A Human Doing vs Human Being
You’ve heard it, right?
We come into the world as a human being, but then once we grow up, we turn into a human doing.
There’s truth to that. We feel the truth of it because we’re living it. Seeing it. You don’t have to look very far. Maybe no further than the mirror.
Our work world easily mutates until it becomes outsized. And we risk losing touch with our human nature. We get busy. Really busy. In fact, insanely busy. Running from one thing to the next. Creating long lists of things that must be done…if only we could find the stinking list again! And while we’re at it, we’d like to find the missing Costco card and mailbox key (both currently lost in our house).
Frankly, who would debate this? The tyranny of busyness is a real, debilitating 1st world problem. I’ve railed against the business of busyness in several blogs, as well as my books. It is true: we’re too busy. The results are everywhere. That we suffer from diseases that were uncommon to earlier generations is bad enough. That these diseases are now common, “chronic” and “epidemic” should be a clue that we have a real problem. Think diabetes, obesity, migraines, heart disease, insomnia, compulsive behaviors and anxiety, for starters.
But, often, these terrible outcomes don’t come as a direct result of being busy. They come from poor choices made along the way. So, staring through a tinted lens to view a complex problem doesn’t help us. Like saying that we should remember “we are human beings, not human doings” doesn’t help us.
Life isn’t that simple.
Yes, we’re human beings. True. Dead stop.
…And we’re human doings. We do stuff. Lots of stuff. Because we find purpose and meaning from it (OK, from some of it). We get into trouble trying to determine our value by what we do. It messes with our hearts, confuses our thinking and misdirects our actions.
We can do things that make us more human. Or less. What we’re doing makes the difference.
6 Reasons You Must Be A Human Doing
1. Human Doing Overcomes Inertia
Isaac Newton declared that a body at rest stays at rest. There are a lot of human beings at rest. For many weeks into every new year, lots of those human beings commit to start moving, exercising, getting fit…and losing as much evidence as they can that the prior year included way too much rest.
But there’s a more important goal than losing weight or even getting fit. It’s not just your body that needs to move. Our minds need to be in motion, too. Without seeing the world differently, without expanding our experiences, without doing new things, we drift back to thinking the way we used to. If our thinking doesn’t change, we’ll end up where we were: resting. And wishing our lives were different.
2. Human Doing Feels Fantastic
There are countless stories of people who chose not to rest. They recount how challenging it was to apply the force necessary to move. Overcoming inertia requires effort. It won’t “just happen.” One such person, with a profoundly motivational and moving story, was Louis Zamperini. For several years I’ve subscribed to Success Magazine. A huge bonus is an audio CD included in each issue. In the August 2011 issue, the CD included a 30-minute interview with Louis. It’s impossible for me to listen to Louis (which I have done many times since) and believe that a human being in the pursuit of human doing doesn’t result in a human feeling fantastic. If you don’t know Louis’s story, get the book or see the movie about him (both titled Unbroken).
3. Human Doing Changes Behaviors
Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit (on my Shelfari bookshelf), pulls away the curtain concealing why we do what we do…and what it takes to change. If you want to get serious about implementing changes in your life, you’d be nuts not to read his book. At the least, you’ll make it that much harder on yourself.
One thing he makes clear early on is that to make any lasting change in your behaviors, you can’t “be” your way to the goal. You must act. You must do. Over and over again. Human doing is the only path to becoming the human being you want to be, changing those unwanted behaviors or beginning better ones.
4. Human Doing Makes You Smarter
“Same old same old!” I really couldn’t wait to exit Bothell High School. Graduating from there was, for me, the beginning of a whole new world. There was nothing especially wrong with BHS. Some of my friends loved it. But I didn’t. As a mediocre student, I hated having my report cards confirm my status. So it came as a shock when I did well in college. Really well. How did that happen? Wasn’t I the same guy? Well, yes and no. I am unaware of receiving a Vulcan mind-meld the summer I graduated from high school. But I am aware that being able to learn something that mattered to me—which you largely get to do in college—really amped up my interest in the stuff I was learning.
After high school, I finished college, got a Master’s degree, sought out careers that required a lot of learning, conducted hundreds of training sessions, spoke to thousands and have published several books. None of that would have happened if I’d accepted the philosophy of “same old same old.” Pushing past the inertia was hard, but it brought new patterns, lots of knowledge and was absolutely worth it.
Doing new things makes you smarter. Another benefit is that you are more interesting to be around, too. Bonus!
5. Human Doing Grows Your Humanity
At the end of 2014, as a family, we engaged in charitable giving. This is something we’ve done as long as I can remember. Some years were extremely lean. Others were more flush. But every year our goal has been to give until it bothers us. Compared to most of the citizens of our world, we’re ridiculously blessed. We’re not wealthy “as seen on TV” but we don’t suffer food insecurity, for example.
We often hear that we need to be compassionate. OK. No argument. But it’s better to actually do compassionate. Giving until its uncomfortable forces us to recognize how much we have compared to how little others have. Since giving money can provide a welcome barrier between us and the reality of others, we also “do” hands-on compassion (volunteering within our community). But we can always do more. Our focus continues to be on doing compassion.
6. Human Doing Fulfills Your Purpose
What could be better than living a life that mattered? Recently we attended a life celebration for a friend who passed away at age 48. Mark fought cancer on his terms,with a particularly whimsical approach. He posted goofy selfies from the hospital, often dressed in an action hero t-shirt while receiving his treatment. Mark did cancer his way. Yet he did so much more. At his service, people shared story after story about how deeply Mark had touched them, especially at low points in their lives. His compassion was central to his interactions with others. Mark truly lived his purpose. He used everything in his being in the daily doing of his life, integrating his passion for art, movies, and music into a tapestry of warmth, humor, and faith. When cancer invaded his life, it didn’t seem to change how he engaged in living. It focused him even more.
Aligning our human doing with what truly matters to us actually helps us grow into better versions of ourselves. Our human doing enhances our human being.
What do you think? How are you doing human differently now than in your past? Engage here.
Prepare for rain. #prepareforrain