AM I A HUMAN BEING OR A HUMAN DOING?
Growing up or living in today’s world means being bombarded by messages telling us that we must “do” things (really well!) to be valued in our society (and to value ourselves). We live in a driven culture that worships at the altar of accomplishment. However it’s measured, whether with grades, sports victories, admission into the best schools, accumulation of wealth, status, or power, it can become the basis for our self worth.
And whilst it's great to 'get things done', to feel a sense of accomplishment, I wonder if in the thrust of it all, we've lost what it means to be human?!
I enjoy planning out my day, writing lists and ticking off completed tasks, but has the motivation to produce results become the driver?
In a great article by Psychology Today they state: "Human beings believe that their self-worth is defined not by their accomplishments, but rather by their values, attitudes, and beliefs; their determination and effort; and how they treat people (all much kinder and gentler bases for self-evaluation). They are able to resist the tsunami of unhealthy messages from our achievement culture and make deliberate choices based on who they are and what is important to them. Human beings gain satisfaction and validation from being honest, considerate, and responsible, among other things. They also have control over what primarily affirms their self-esteem, so the vicissitudes of achievement (i.e., the inevitable failures that are a natural part of the human condition) don’t have an outsized impact on how they feel about themselves.
Because human beings don’t feel an unrelenting pressure to do, they are capable of just being. They can feel peace, calm, and contentment, even when they are surrounded by the whirling-dervish of a doing world. Human beings can also enjoy aspects of life that have no purpose beyond the immediate experience, such as reading, cooking, walking, being with friends, all without regard to the outcomes of those experiences.
Unfortunately, human doings don’t usually respect human beings because the former don’t perceive the latter as being driven or accomplished enough. In other words, human beings don’t, in human doings’ eyes, do enough. But being a human being doesn’t mean that they don’t accomplish anything. To the contrary, human beings can be very successful, but unlike human doings, they can experience meaning, satisfaction, and joy in their achievements because they aren’t driven by need, but rather by their values and life priorities. In other words, human beings’ achievement efforts are an affirming expression of who they are. So, not only can human beings be successful, but just as importantly, they can be happy.
Part of being a human being is accepting your basic humanity, which includes the perception that no one is perfect. We all have flaws and that is what makes us human. Since we are flawed then failure is an inevitable part of life. If failure is inevitable then it becomes acceptable, part of the lived experience. From this perspective, failure loses its power to harm your self-esteem. With being, there is no threat to self-esteem because there is no fear of failure, and there is no fear of losing your self-love. You cannot fail at being!"*
So how can I align my life with more being than doing?
The first step in creating a being life, the experts tell me, is finding balance. By creating many areas of life that are rewarding, there will be less investment in any one area and less pressure on that area to meet your self-esteem needs.
Human beings create a flexible life with only enough structure to meet their most basic needs. This minimal structure gives sufficient order to the lives of human beings without it limiting their options. Human beings are open to and comfortable with acting on spur-of-the-moment opportunities and see such experiences as healthy breaks from their otherwise orderly lives.
Human doings are generally very serious people. They have things to do, people to see, and places to go. “Don’t bother me I’m getting things done,” is their attitude. This seriousness comes from living in a state of hypervigilance to any threat to their self-esteem.
In contrast, human beings understand that life can get pretty dull if things get too serious. So, they have learned how to lighten up. They are serious about serious things, but don’t need the melodrama of making the mundane more serious to make their life interesting and worth living. They know that laughter and humour bring happiness and joy to a world that often takes itself too seriously.*
Along with our clients who are looking for ways to harmonise all areas of their life, we are actively learning and processing our own outlook and hoping to do life with more poise, grace and equilibrium!
How is your 'being-ness' going? Have you got any great tips to share??
* Excerpt from Psychology Today.