Being and Doing

24 Mar 2015

Are you chronically busy? Or are you sometimes content to just sit, enjoy the moment, and be?

The Western world has pretty much made an idol of busyness.

Work is good; it makes the world go round, allows us to eat, and helps us implement new ideas. The Protestant work ethnic is a valuable asset. Indeed, it allows a society to prosper economically and materially.

Once there were monastics who hid away from society and were content to live a contemplative life. There aren’t many of them left.

But there are many cultures that still value being. They have less need to perform, impress, or even extend themselves.

As I’ve lived, worked and traveled in more than 60 countries on six continents, I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of both systems: being and doing.

Doing cultures get things done. They have relative prosperity, enjoy reliable services, and lead the world in solving problems like disease. People live in various degrees of ease, but often work too hard, sacrificing relationships to climb the corporate ladders; sometimes they don’t stop to smell the roses.

They feel the constant need to go, go go and do, do, do. It seems never to be enough.

Many being cultures exist in societies where few things work. Electricity is on sometimes; food is seasonable, and resources are tight. But being-oriented folks enjoy a freedom to enjoy family and friends, knowing how to nurture the most valuable asset in life—relationships.

Being cultures are not driven to perform. They don’t see the need to work 60 or 70 hours a week. In fact, they don’t understand why people would ever be so darn task oriented.

Oh how I wish we could learn from each other.

Balance seems to elude many humans. Westerners, especially Americans, can be addicted to constant noise and activity.

How about you? Are you a workaholic, or are you content to just be? Can you just sit and listen to the birds, hold a loved one or otherwise enjoy the moment? Or do you feel compelled to always be doing something?

I have enjoyed many precious moments just being with friends in some amazing places. Some of my favorite memories are from times when I got to spend a lot of time with colleagues or friends, and maybe even stopped to read by candlelight because there was no electricity to power electronics. I tell you it reduces stress!

But then I would always come back to America and get plugged in again, get back on the treadmill, and engage in the rat race.

It seems a good idea to give pause to our busy lives and consider what changes we can make to be more balanced. We need to give ourselves permission to STOP, breathe, and just BE.


Royalty-free image by Carin Araujo of Puerto Rico; retrieved from:



Enter your email address below to subscribe to new posts. Every time there is a new article or podcast, you will get it delivered to your email inbox.