Being not doing – the art of being more human

Being more yourself is the key to a happy and fulfilling life. However, society expects us to be busy, always doing things and being completely action orientated.

So life is packed with action: at school we have lessons, then after school clubs and busy weekend activities, this continues at University with vacation work, worthwhile gap years and endless socialising. When we are not at work, when we could be relaxing and at leisure we fill the space with computer games, films and mobile phones. The internet just seems to add all the choices!

Though don’t get me wrong, it is a great time to live – with more opportunity than ever – rich and diverse – but we also risk losing the very thing that we’re trying to seek, which is very humanity.

Human beings not human doings

We are, as they say, human beings and not human doings. What does this mean?

One key element is, I think, being in touch with the ‘still small voice within’. The constant input from our hectic lives means that we crowd out that still small voice, it means that we cease hearing our very soul. The less in touch we are with ourselves the less likely we are to have a happy and fulfilling life. Ultimately without listening to ourselves, we cannot truly be ourselves. Without stopping to listen we cannot process the changes that are inevitably going on within us all the time. If we do not know how we are changing, how can we know who we are? If we do not know who we are, how can we have a happy and fulfilling life?

If we do not have some peace and quiet in our everyday lives then we cannot effectively reflect on the past and so we cannot see how we’ve changed. Now I’m not advocating that we all meditate every day – although evidence suggests that this is beneficial – but I am advocating that we occasionally take stock and listen to ourselves. This inevitably means carving out some time from our busy diaries and in the peace and quiet listening to the rumblings of our mind.

A lesson from business

Now maybe this sounds ‘airy fairy’ to some – however I do not think that it is. Consider a company or a large corporation: it is often pausing, stopping and reviewing the past and making decisions about the future. In management jargon they call this strategic planning – or maybe ‘blue sky thinking’. For example most companies will have at least monthly accounts to look at and at the least annual reports to publish to their stakeholders.

Most companies will have a vast array of other performance management information and they will use this in regular decision-making meetings and also in away days. These are chunks of time set aside for senior managers to consider the future based on the evidence of the past and their intelligence of the present. So if the macho bosses of large corporations know that they need to take to take time out to think and plan and make decisions, then why do we think that we can be different in our personal lives? Surely we are more invested in our own life than in any company that we might work for or invest in?

Take charge of your life

Nobody is likely to tell you to do this of course. It is not really seen as the western thing to do, but if you do not take charge of your own life, take stock and spend some more time being and a bit less time doing, how will you know that you are going in the right direction?

If you never take stock how will you know who you are? If you never reflect on where you’ve been, how do you know that you are going in the right direction that will ultimately bring you what you want: happiness and fulfilment? Consider why you are doing all the things that you are doing as I am sure you will agree that it is because you want to be happy and fulfilled – even thought you might be travelling there via wealth, success or personal relationships. However has it occurred to you that in spending more time being you may become more happy and fulfilled anyway simply by being connected to yourself more deeply and more often?

So at some point over the next week why don’t you treat yourself to a bit more being and a bit less doing? Set aside some time to be quite somewhere, maybe sitting outside looking at a wonderful view with a paper and pen for any thoughts and feelings that rise. Or maybe looking at a lighted candle will be your inspiration. A silent place is probably best so that you can hear the still small voice within – because that is how we tend to hear it, as a conversation in our minds.

The more time you give it and the more attentive you are to listening, the closer you will get to hearing some authentic messages from your soul. Do not worry if to start with all what happens is that you have a running commentary on all things that need to be done, you’ve been programmed for so long to do that. So expect it to take some while before you can get through all that chatter to the being.

This is where the paper and pen will help. Write down all the things that come to mind that need to be ‘done’. Tell your unconscious mind not to worry about them because you’ve now written them down and captured them, so you do not need to worry about remembering them. So you may write down an awful lot of things, as an awful lot of things may come up – things to do, things you’ve got to remember, people to speak to, children to worry about… Write it all down and notice how you are feeling – and write that down too.

When the ‘to do’ list has been written down and the chatter has started to calm down, be attentive to what bubbles up from the still small voice. Repeating this over a period of time will help you to build up a picture of the common messages that are bubbling up from your subconscious mind. In doing this you will start to get a steer from your very core, from the authentic you, who is calling you towards a life of happiness and fulfilment.