Big Little Things

Doing, being, outlook, and outcome

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine brought up the distinction between a human being and a human doing. I’ve been fascinated with it since.

For my part, I can say that I mostly live my life as a human doing: I’ve structured my life around my efforts, which I’ve structured around goals. I feel that what I do with my moments, minutes, and months are decisions that need to be made actively. This means that I’m in my head a lot of the time, planning errands, projects, lifetime accomplishments and managing my energy so I can get the most done. My point is this: even when I’m my head, I am never not doing anything.

But I also know that sometimes (always?) the best way to make good things happen isn’t a matter of doing so much as being. An obvious example: If you want to be liked, it’s better not to try too hard, and instead just be comfortable in your skin. Another way to say this is that outlook shapes outcome. Being happy is the most effective thing you can DO to be happy.

Obviously, if you’ve got vision and goals, shaping outcome is very important, and thus outlook is too. Now here’s my question for you: Is it possible to take a goal-oriented approach to one’s outlook and way of being? What would a to-be list look like?

5 Responses to “Doing, being, outlook, and outcome”

  1. Bob Says:

    Axel, you are bringing some deep stuff today.

    I do believe it is possible to be a human-doing, but at the same time a human-being. Working at your goals and taking your plan but at the same time “being in the moment” is very difficult. It takes a lot of time and understanding to develop mindfulness that connects with your overall plan.

    To me; my to-do list would look something like;

    * Run errands – turn off the radio, actually listen to the birds chirping, feel the banana in your hand at the store.

    * Exercise – How does my body move and can I pay enough attention to develop some consistent feelings.

    An old Zen saying goes to the effect of “If you are going to wash the dishes, then wash the dishes. Don’t wash the dishes simply to move on to drinking your tea.” The belief being that if you are always rushing to get to the next item you will never truly cherish the current.

    I hope any of this makes sense.

  2. Audrey Says:

    my to-be list:

    1. don’t check email or voicemail until I’ve been up for 2+ hours. 2. make my do-to list, then do the one I think would be the most fun first. (trying to find flow)
    3. every fifteen minutes, take 10 seconds to pause and notice what is happening in my body & my mind (I might have to get a vibrating timer & set it to go off every 15 minutes to remember)
    4. stretch out my body for 10-15 minutes when I get up and before I go to sleep (your body will anchor your mind – don’t forget we are ‘incarnated’ which means ‘in meat’)

    You might like to check out Susan Susanka’s “The Not So Big Life,” Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul”and/ or Maria Nemeth’s The Energy of Money” for other ideas

  3. ABC Says:

    Rad and true. I have spent so much of my life being a Human Doing that my recent shift in lifestyle to: corporate job, no relationship, and a general lowering of the expectations of others and myself, has plopped me down in some strange peace. If I can escape the guilt of not doing, I find that this time to reflect has been joyous.

    The path of least resistance can be lonely at times, but fuck, it is nice to take a mental break.

  4. josh kamler Says:

    Ah, the guilt of not doing: very American condition to be afflicted with. I felt a bit of that myself, this very weekend.

  5. BryanG Says:

    I am finding the difference between the two is not stressing over any specific outcome, hence, be happy versus’ it’s my goal to be liked.

    It’s important to have goals and a vision but you have to be flexible in the outcomes. Often things lead you to unexpected places and you have to be ready for that.

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