We Are Human Beings, Not Human Doings

We Are Human Beings, Not Human Doings

I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t.., you aren’t. – Wayne Dyer.

What does it mean to simply be?
In this busy and stressful environment that we live in today, we’re so absorbed in our everyday mundane routine life, that we forget to enjoy everything that is happening around us. We’re too busy doing things; doing work, doing chores, doing activities etc. that we get stressed, anxious, that we forget to enjoy life as it is. Wouldn’t life be more fun and exciting if we just simply be?

To be, means to simply be present, to appreciate what we have, to accept what is happening around us, without judgement, without preference. For instance, when we get woken up suddenly by loud screeching birds in our backyard, some people react with anger and annoyance. “These birds are so loud and annoying!” some people say indignantly. This is judgement. This is preference. This is what you say when you judge the screeching birds as bad. In reality, the sound of screeching birds is neither good nor bad. It simply happened and that’s it. It’s the judgement that the screeching sound is ‘bad’, the preference that we prefer not to get woken up by screeching birds that causes us suffering. When you can accept the flow of life, experience these screeching sounds as it is, without judgement, without preference, then, and only then, are you being fully present in the moment. Here, you are simply being.

What is a human doing?
In this outcome-orientated society that we live in today, we tend to celebrate people’s doing, rather than their being. We glorify the concept of ‘busy’. We rush through life. We focus too much on the tasks, that we forget to be; to connect with other people.

Doing refers to all the things we do to accomplish external achievement. What’s an external achievement? At school, it is to achieve a high mark on an assignment or test. At work, it is to achieve the most sales, to complete a project, to earn bonuses or awards. In sport, it is to win and beat the other team.

We’re too busy doing these things, too busy celebrating people’s external achievements that we forget to acknowledge people’s being, their inner quality of what truly defines them. What defines you, is not the certificate or reward you hang in your office or home, it’s not your job title or how much you earn in your annual salary. You are not what you do. What really defines you, is the quality or trait that you have within you. The quality of courage, patience, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, leadership, influence, compassionate understanding etc.

The reason why people suffer is because they forget what their being is. They attach their identity to their doing, their title or label, or external achievements, that when a prestigious job title is stripped from them, they become depressed. For instance, you might be disabled, no longer able to play your favourite sport for whatever reason, or even lose your job title – whatever it is that you might lose – but what you still have are the qualities within you. I knew of a boy who played soccer as his career. He loved soccer, it was his passion. One day, he injured his leg while playing soccer. The doctor said the injury was irreparable and that he would no longer be able to play soccer ever again. Of course, he was terrified and sad. But he knew what his being was; he was influential and had great leadership skills in soccer. He would carry this quality with him to another career. This is the power of acknowledging your being. He didn’t lose his identity, because soccer did not define him. His influence and great leadership skills defined him. He had awareness of his being – that is why he didn’t fall into depression. He moved with the flow of life.

How can I be?
You can practice mindfulness or meditation. Meditation is how we connect with our ability to be. Meditation is actively listening to your inner thoughts.

You can also acknowledge someone else’s being. To acknowledge someone’s being, is to recognise the qualities of the person for who they are. To acknowledge someone’s doing, is to recognise what they have accomplished or done, such as the job title they behold, which is their doing.

When acknowledging someone’s qualities, or being, it is important to be authentic, and not just compliment them for the sake of it. You might find yourself complimenting someone’s actions, or focussing on their doing. Let’s acknowledge their qualities instead. As Nicki Keohohou has said, “A compliment is what you see and an acknowledgement is who you be.”

To recognise someone’s doing is to congratulate a staff member for hitting targets or for making the most sales. Perhaps next time, acknowledge their being, congratulate them for their innovative creativity, their courage in overcoming obstacles, or their charisma and teamwork skills, in supporting and motivating everyone to work together to achieve the company’s goals. This sort of observation and recognition is what touches the hearts and souls of people.

Rather than acknowledging a student’s doing of achieving a high score in a test, perhaps you can acknowledge their being, by recognising their diligence and persistence in solving difficult problems, their patience and hard work in putting the time and effort into studying.

In essence, just remember, you are a human being, not human doing.

By | 2017-04-21T10:00:35+10:00 March 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments


  1. Lina April 21, 2017 at 2:52 am - Reply

    I love this blog! You’ve defined human beings and human doings so well. Thanks for providing this clarity and distinction between the two. It’s so important to know this and remember to not get distracted by all the superficial external stuff happening around us.

  2. tala_08039 March 1, 2019 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Quite right! It is excellent idea. I support you.

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