Do you think our society and children are lost in technology, endless “to do” activities, and low-road behaviors that limit human potential? Perhaps we have been neglecting our core self that yearns for peace of mind, happiness, harmonious relationships, and inner growth. We may be temporarily lost in “doing” if we don’t have enough time and are stressed out, concerned about our health, experiencing relationship conflicts, feeling bewildered, or wondering about the meaning of life. Practical neuroscience insights and ideas help us navigate a balance between doing and being, thus living a higher quality and purpose driven life.
Differences between Doing and Being
“Doing” involves daily activities like getting to work, working your “to do” lists, following instructions, responding to distractions, solving problems, dealing with relationship dynamics, attaining goals, and staying healthy. Most people can relate to and explain the importance of “doing;” indeed, it is an essential component of practical living. It may be helpful to view “doing” as content, and “being” as context. Where people go astray is by placing their “doing” activities on a high plateau, mistakenly thinking they are the most important aspect of their lives; this condition can be likened to the metaphor, “can’t see the forest for the trees.”
“Being,” on the other hand, is a bit deeper and more philosophical. It has to do with “who you are,” “why you are here” and “how you can best live the life you have been gifted with.” “Being” involves your state of mind (e.g. positive or negative), your values and beliefs, and how you want to treat yourself and others. There is a huge spectrum of choices ranging from “high-road being” (e.g. grateful, kind, caring, loving, empathetic, patient, forgiving, respectful, helpful, cooperative) and “low-road being” (e.g. mean, abusive, dictatorial, judgmental, opinionated, angry, disrespectful, righteous, competitive, narcissistic).
Downside of Doing
The downside of “doing,” in the absence of consciously choosing a state of “being,” includes:
- Getting lost in physicality
- Ignoring your well-being
- Damaging relationships
- Bringing out lower road behaviors
- Regretting, later, that you were capable of being a better person
- Delaying inner growth and peace of mind
Upside of Being
“Being” is a choice. You decide which high-road behaviors you will consistently exhibit on a 24/7 basis. Making a conscious choice of how you want to live your life, and influence others, requires courage.
- Being the best you can be
- Being true to yourself
- Being the captain of your life
- Living a purpose-driven life
- Having a positive impact on yourself and others
- Growing and experiencing the fullness of life
How to Balance Doing and Being
Most people start with the “doing” component; this is a dead-end street. Begin with the foundational and contextual “being” side of life. Decide on one or two central themes for “how you want to be.” Think of what legacy you want to create; imagine what you want people to say about you when you are no longer here. Be realistic and select the highest values and behaviors you can sustain each and every day. Pick those that resonate strongly with you, do no harm, and serve yourself and others. Try them for a week or two, then experiment with new states of being to replace choices that didn’t feel quite right and were difficult to sustain. Let feedback from your inner self and others guide your choices. You will find this process fun and fulfilling.
In summary, “being” defines “who you are,” and not “what you do.” “Being” is the tapestry, territory and landscape in which you live, work, relate, learn and grow. The ideal combination is to be the best person you are capable of being, and superimpose the things (doing) you need to accomplish to navigate life; this provides flow, beauty and elegance to living life to the fullest.