Being or Doing?

“I want to learn how to “be” at times, to relax, to share quality time with my friends.  Yet I love to “do” and get things done at work and at home!”  my client exclaimed.

“Well, it sounds like you think it has to be one or the other:  a guru sitting alone in a cave or a human machine in constant action!  A balanced life is actually a combination of “being” and “doing”.  No one is ever 100% either one.   With employers increasingly expecting employees to do more with less, it’s no wonder that we think we have to always be “doing”.  If people are working in fast paced or competitive environments, it takes a toll.  People are often sleep deprived and exhausted and unable to give their best.”

Increasingly research shows that people who don’t take time for lunches, vacations, or don’t give themselves occasional down time, are burning out and having more physical and emotional problems.  It is very important to somehow carve out even small amounts of time and to find ways to “be”.

I often hear from friends and clients that they’ve learned from their parents and other adults that they have to stay busy, that it’s a terrible waste of time to be idle. Reading for pleasure rather than for work is often difficult for people who think they have to always be “doing”.  They feel guilty if they’re not involved in productive activities.

I mentioned that there are two key ways in which “being” can be done.  One is to learn how to consistently use tools including but not limited to meditating, doing T’ai Chi and/or yoga, journaling, listening to relaxing music, creating art and gardening for enjoyment. Taking time in the evening to write down three things you’re grateful for that occurred earlier in the day is another way to “be”.

A second way is to learn how to “be” while “doing”!  This means that when you’re in a team meeting to be focused and fully present with each person as they’re speaking rather than thinking ahead to what you’ll do after the meeting ends.  You can begin to practice being mindful when a colleague or direct report stops by your office. While you may be in the middle of a project, you can stop what you’re doing for a moment and really listen to what they’re saying.  On the weekend when you’re mowing the lawn, instead of mentally rehashing an argument you had with a friend, you can be mindful of the beautiful sunshine and the cool breeze and fully savor the moment.

The main thing to remember is that it’s not an either/or situation.  We need to be able to “do” AND “be” to function well in life.  “Whew!” my client said with relief, “I’m glad you said that.  I was thinking it had to be one or the other.”

Do you lean too heavily toward the “doing” side?  Do you feel out of kilter?  Or do you have a good balance of “doing” and “being”?

Think about it!


Lorrie’s Learnings is a monthly e-article which shares my awarenesses, learnings, contemplations and anything else that comes to the mind of this life coach! Let me know the articles that give you new perspectives/thoughts/feelings, confirm what you’ve been thinking or move you into action. To receive Lorrie’s Learnings straight to your email inbox, click here!