Being Instead of Doing
The idea of being instead of doing isn’t a popular concept. In fact, most people see it as being “unproductive” or “lazy”. Taking an afternoon off work or not studying for six hours are seen as bad. Especially, in high school, there is a lot of stress put on always achieving things physically or academically, yet no one addressing the importance of allowing time for yourself to just relax: time to just be.
When I was first introduced to the idea that in order to keep balance in our lives and, quite honesty, be mentally stable, we need to take time to just be. Just be alone in a quiet space and allow ourselves some decompression time. Just be in our thoughts, rechecking and realigning ourselves to the intentions we set and people we want to be
One of the most important things just being allows you to do is just slow down. Eddie Cantor, a 1920’s entertainer says, “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast-you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
Unfortunately, the stress of always doing something and condemning just relaxing, has led people to develop feelings of guilt during down times, making them believe that “they don’t deserve it,” as if they always need to be productive.
I was right there with that group of doers, always trying beyond my very best, and being so hard on myself when I didn’t meet the impossible expectations I put on myself. On the weekends when I had homework, I couldn’t have fun without feeling guilty until all my homework was complete. Even when I did finish my homework, my mind was still plagued with thoughts of tasks I needed to do. I never let myself just be, and I only ever felt “so-so” about my accomplishments.
A sense of fulfillment is something lost when constantly doing things. Satisfaction across all levels of life can’t possibly be reached when one never takes the time to simply be. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” If we always focus on doing, on always what we have done in the past and will do in the future, we lose sight of what’s really important: being in the present moment.
Ever have that feeling of being lost? Going through life, always running can sometimes skew your vision, but take a moment to stop and all of the sudden your surroundings become very clear.
Amongst having upwards of six classes, sports activities, clubs, and a social life, it can be extremely easy to lose your values and ambitions in life. Allowing yourself to just be, gives you that opportunity to reassess your own intentions.
Louis C.K. once said while being interviewed on the Conan O’Brien show” “You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something.” Just being, however ironic it sounds, isn’t the most intuitive thing, especially if you are out of the practice. Nevertheless, it is life changing.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this “just being” look like?” It looks different to everybody.
Most basically, it is sitting or standing, just watching where your mind wanders to. Sitting in a field, taking a walk in a park, laying in bed, are all ways to practice just being. Have your phone far away or on silent and simply enjoy the moment. Notice the birds chirping or cars rushing past, the way the colors bounce of the leaves or the imaginary animals that you find in the crevices of your ceiling.
Interestingly enough, uncensored mindful wandering thoughts create a guide for us. Giving yourself the opportunity to think of anything imaginable and ruminate on it, creates dreams and an inner direction. These dreams and inner directions make up the personal and unique guide in your life. If we, as a human race, never sat down and thought and questioned the legitimacy of a preconceived notion, such as the earth being flat or that leeching was an appropriate way to cure the sick, there is a chance we could still believe or behave the same way we did centuries ago.
If you find yourself questioning the way society views the world, or simply have an interesting thought, writing them down is a helpful way to keep track of them, ultimately being able to act on them.
Coincidentally, the more you allow yourself to rest and recharge, the easier and more fulfilling doing becomes. There is new found appreciation and energy for busy and challenging times in life because when we allow ourselves to take breaks, we allow ourselves to see challenges as fun and explorative, instead of energy-sucking and a waste of time.
Being instead of doing also doesn’t have to be an intellectual feat. Watching TV or movies or listening to music, for example, are ways to just zone out, and effectively allow one to just be. These are all ways to reconnect with yourself and take moments to experience life, not just do life.
Deepak Chopra says, ““The Universe contains three things that cannot be destroyed; Being, Awareness and Love.”
Be empowered by the idea that being is one of the only things that can never be taken from you. With learning how to be, we learn how to be aware and accepting, and ultimately experience love on the highest level. Being brings you in contact with your highest self and brings fulfillment in every aspect of your life.
Push through it! In the beginning it is difficult and our minds love to remind us of everything we are doing “wrong”. Create and affirmation for yourself–perhaps: “I recognize my uncomfortable feelings but persevere through them to allow myself to just be, which will ultimately lead be to feelings of fulfillment and overall satisfaction.”
In the end, it is the individual’s choice whether or not they choose to listen and implement being instead of doing in their life. But where I am standing, I can see that the best version of myself is over the hills and far away, and I will get lost on the way there if I don’t stop and enjoy the scenery.