Human beings

At the weekend someone said something simple yet profound to me: ‘we are human beings not human doings’.

Yet we continue to measure ourselves according to our ‘doings’ (or lack of) rather than our moments of ‘beings’. Where does this resistance to just being come from? Undoubtedly our cultural philosophy of living bigger, faster and better, striving to keep up with the mythical Jones’ (don’t blame them!) is at least partially to blame. And yet we have a choice not to step onto this particular treadmill, or if we already have, we can choose to step off it at any point in time. But often we don’t appreciate that this possibility even exists. That choice is always for other people, not for people like us. The blinkers are on and all we are able to see ahead is more of the same – but bigger, faster and better (natch).

Spending so much of our time ‘doing’ distracts us from parts of our lives that may be uncomfortable to face, but more fundamentally it also distracts us from who we really are. We are human beings. Our existence is not meant to be about a constant struggle for more, more, more – which for many people is frequently about more stress and not actually more of whatever it was they were hoping to get. The future life of ‘I’ll do or enjoy X when I retire/have enough money/when I’m on holiday next year’ is so often a never-never promise by which we cheat ourselves from the very moment of life we’re living right now.

This isn’t a call to arms against achievements, financial or otherwise – wanting these things isn’t inherently a bad desire – but rather it is a call to mindfulness. Being mindful of our habits, our points of focus in the day, and the way we choose to spend our time. [The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Henry David Thoreau.]

What space is there in your life for just being? Quiet time in meditation or contemplation, writing out your stream of consciousness, walking with awareness in nature, lazing on the grass just cloud watching, enjoying the sunrise or sunset (or better, both), watching the horizon or the waves crashing onto or maybe gently lapping the shore, taking a leisurely bath, building sandcastles, doing your favourite exercise with no goals in sight, or simply really noticing the next breath that you take in and then exhale. Your moments of being could be any one of these or something quite different; even cleaning the house can bring immense joy when we see it as an act of service, giving thanks in gratitude for all that we have been blessed with in our lives.

Imagine if you gave yourself just 10 minutes of ‘being’ today, what would you choose to do? What is stopping you just ‘being’ right now?

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