It seems to me that those people who are most productive and creative are those who practise being rather than doing and that we live in a life with too much strain and too little satisfaction. Our culture is in crisis due to the gap between external success and internal satisfaction. So, is success a measure of what you do or who you are? Being or Doing?
Definition of Doing
When we define ourselves by what we do, our focus is on achieving external goals. We assume that by achieving these goals we will find an internal contentment. If we become successful and gain recognition we will feel an internal state of happiness, confidence and self-esteem.
Definition of Being
An internal state that is desirable by defining who we are, focusing on inner qualities, such as, serenity, strength, balance, passion and insight. Inner reality is the most important thing, external success ‘doing’ comes as a result of this.
Many successful doers are ravaged by feelings of insecurity and failure, success does not mean happiness, for example, take Marilyn Monroe and John Belushi. So, the question becomes how do we lessen our grip on doing and focus on being?
Just Being as a way of living
These people seem to be more balanced, peaceful, courageous, strong and not afraid to take risks. They blend authority with gentleness, patience with dynamism, the capacity for joy and laughter with an ability to experience deep recesses of personal pain.
They integrate a passion for self-expression with the ability to listen intently, they are leaders who can follow. They are their own person, uninfluenced by public opinion, yet capable of deep partnership and companionship. They are profoundly committed to inspiring causes and able to evoke a sense of commitment in others. They are mentally sharp, emotionally vibrant and vitally alive. They make every moment count and they contribute in a big way because they care deeply. They can give and receive love, softness and strength – they are comfortable in their own skin.
The Buddha paradox
Each of us has the power to use our own mind to transform our internal states and create a life that is healthy and emotionally rewarding. However, we can’t create this life unless we place our priorities where they belong. With being rather than doing.
In the frenzy of our life and activities what we are actually seeking is not an external achievement, but an internal feeling.
A drug addict takes drugs to change his internal state, he relies on the drug for feeling good, but this does not meet his real needs. An opposite might be a monk who meditates to get a feeling of peace and tranquillity, both are working on getting control of how they feel on the inside, however, the monk is doing it in a very different way. He changes from the inside to satisfy his needs, as opposed to the addict looking externally.
Stress and disease
When we focus on being rather than doing, we explore and strengthen our minds. Our minds are the greatest resource that we have. If you focus on doing, in reality, you achieve less. Rushing, stressing, poor priorities, poor relationships, modifying behaviours and desires to keep other happy etc.
Type A personalities seem to have a kind of ‘hurry sickness’ and Doctors report that 70% of their visits are stress related. There is a huge correlation between emotions and physical illness. We all have the fight or flight response happening to us, pumping us full of chemicals that subsequently have nowhere to go, so tend to live within us as aches pains and stresses.
In some, these raised levels just go from one experience to the next, so an elevated blood pressure or stress level becomes normal to them. Tight muscles create friction in our joints and add to the physical discomfort, yet we can release these. By being we can avoid these.
Many of the chronic diseases of our culture are a direct result of physiological imbalances created by emotional stress, back problems and arthritis are common examples of this – if we get ‘tight’ often enough, we stay tight, and we do not breath deep enough to fully oxygenate our tissues leading to disease.
Effective people make time their ally, time is less important when you are ‘in the flow’ an internal state of being that effects good doing. The opposite is someone rushing around and getting things wrong, making mistakes and getting stressed.
Characteristics of too much Doing
- Over-focus on goals and neglect mastering how we feel inside.
- Act from a place of anxiety and tension.
- Project tension outside of ourselves in the form of demands.
- Assume getting the job done is linked with tension, so we accept tension as the norm.
Characteristics of Being – Performance
- Focus more on feelings than on results.
- Keep attention on remaining calm and not giving way to anxiety.
- Refuse to lose composure in the face of external pressure, instead, use those external pressures to strengthen inner balance.
- Assume that performance is intimately connected to pleasure, so keep attention on finding enjoyment in activities.
Hurry sickness and compulsive performing are addictive behaviours, we persist in the hope that it will get us what we need, despite such compelling evidence to the contrary.
Are we addicted to fear?
The primary addiction underlying all other addictions is the addiction to non-living and powerlessness – and if we go deeper, there is the addiction to fear. We are attached to fear and we are afraid to take the steps that will take us out of fear.
We are afraid to take responsibility for ourselves, to fully define ourselves in our own terms. So we give the responsibility of defining who we are to somebody else and then struggle to live up to those demands. Most of all we are afraid of our emotions and feeling our feelings.
“Because if we acknowledged our feelings and took full responsibility for them, we would have to leave the treadmill of our lives behind and take full responsibility for creating something more meaningful.”
Owning and transforming our fear is the most important step we can take to develop independence and strength. When we do this we stop seeing the cause of fear outside ourselves. We see it from within. So now we can change it.
For more information about emotional well-being, a wonderful resource is The Art of Effortless Living by Ingrid Bacci.