Human Beings versus Human Doings
John Bradshaw, author of the seminal book Healing the Shame that Binds You, was one of the first people to introduce into modern vernacular the notion that we are Human BE-ings not Human DO-ings. This catchy expression has particular relevance to those of us who get so busy performing activities “out in the world” that we begin to determine our worth through external measures at the expense of pausing, grounding, and having faith in our inherent value as living beings.
The call to pause more often and BE is indeed critical-it helps us center, ground, and take stock of ourselves and our lives. However, we do not want to glibly overlook the fact that we humans naturally DO. In fact, we get special satisfaction when we are able to do-especially when the doing produces feelings of accomplishment and success. This derives not just from a desire for superficial affirmation, but also from a need to exert influence over and to receive feedback from our environment. In other words, doing is a way that we affirm that we exist. Although one could call that “external reward”, it may have as much to do with what psychologists call “agency” as a need for validation. We need to believe and we respond positively to evidence that we have some control over and impact on the world around us.
Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling Upon Happiness, identifies that this need to exercise control over our environment is not only pleasing but critical to our survival “Human beings come into the world with a passion for control…if they lose their ability to control things… they become unhappy, helpfulness, hopeless, and depressed.”
In reality, as we are living out lives moment by moment, these two mandates-to BEand to DO-are both compelling, relevant, and necessary. So at this given time, the end of 2018 and the beginning 2019, we suggest an exercise that addresses both. Take this moment to pause and reflect on the last year by considering all of the things you did. Also take stock of what events had impact on you and ways which you in turn influenced the world around you. This can include negative or challenging events but should also include positive ones. This exercise serves as a way to both acknowledge the impact that you had in your life and the lives of others but also to experience this moment in a different way-reviewing the Doing will impact the experience of Being.
As a parting gift for the year 2018, we share with you a link to the coloring page you see above (click here), an image that we think encapsulates a lovely moment of just Being. Research on the benefits of coloring tells us coloring helps people feel more relaxed, calm, focused, and in the moment-i.e., coloring is an act of Doing that facilitates a pleasant sense of Being.
Wishing for you a happy balance between Being and Doing in the coming year! Warmly, Rebecca and Gioia
List all of the things you did last year, taking stock of what events had impact on you and ways which you in turn influenced the world around you. This can include negative or challenging events but should also include positive ones. Reward yourself by downloading the image above and spending 15-20 minutes quietly coloring it in. Feel free to share it on our FB page. We’d love to see it!