Smithpractice | Applewood | Woodyates Road |London SE12 9JL | Tel: 07970 443892
David Smith
Counsellor and Psychotherapist
“Helping People Help Themselves”
Doing or Being -11th May 2020 So, how do you live, are a doing or a being person? As a generalisation for the topic here, in the western approach there is the focus on doing, on achieving, on making things happen. Then the eastern philosophy of just being, the concept of mindfulness, just being in the moment and allowing life to occur, encouraging peacefulness. Here in this article I want to reflect on how much of each of these aspects is in our lives and how they might live alongside each other in different degrees for each person. Then for you to decide where you are and if you want to change your approach. Let us consider firstly doing. Here the western approach of setting goals, this occurring throughout our lives, education from school to university, professional and trade qualifications. Ongoing work training, skill development, professional development. Vocational interests, art, sports. Personal life, family, home, holidays. All of these aspects partly driven by the “must have or “want to have”. Maybe enjoying them, but to do so measuring our progress to do even better. An internal measuring stick at a potentially unconscious level driving us to monitor our progress. So that we can see that we are doing……. Then let us consider being. Initially the concept of mindfulness is a good place to start, this developing from eastern influences. Being in the moment, enjoying the present, not allowing desires for the future or reflections on the past to detract from the here and now. The future is influenced by so many external aspects over which we have no control, the past has gone and is unchangeable. So, in theory it can classed as futile to approach life in any other way than just enjoying the moment, to be free from the stresses of achievement and reflection on the unchangeable past. Live in the moment and life is potentially peaceful…… Maybe neither of these approaches are useful when practised by us all as a singular fashion. If there was no achievement, we would not have made the medical or the industrial advances that possibly keep us in some form of security and safety. If we just lived in the moment all the time, we would be just allowing life to impact upon us, only reacting to danger when it occurred and maybe not seeing the consequences or our own or others actions. So how can we integrate these two approaches to maximum advantage. Some people have to achieve a lot, some not so much. That is a personal choice and I suspect is easily identifiable for each person. What might be more challenging is the being, particularly if raised in a western culture, this useful to eliminate the “must haves” in us. So maybe consider if a doing person wants to be more being and considers mindfulness as an option and strives to incorporate this into their lives, how the striving as a core might eliminate any potential for change. How can we strive to be mindful; it this not a contradiction? So maybe reflect on are we possibly “being” already? For even the greatest achiever there actually is much being. For instance, getting up in the morning and preparing for the day is just being, just doing it……. it does not to have been achieved. As an exercise develop this, just look back and consider things that may have just been “done”, not “have to do”. Early school, friends, first job, hobbies, nights out, relationships, laughter, happiness, anger, holidays, travelling to work, eating a meal. I suspect we all have massive and different lists. But whatever the personal list is, “just doing” can be the start of being. Doing does not have to be achieving, it is all a question of approach and interpretation.