You’ve probably heard this distinction before: human being versus human doing. We’re all human beings, but we’re also super busy, always doing something. So call us human doings.

Yet the busyness gets overwhelming and makes you want to stop and just be.

It’s worth noting that ‘being’ and ‘doing’ are both verb forms and relate to action. When you’re doing, you’re active. But being is like a passive activity. When you just be, what exactly are you being?

Maybe you are being still. Maybe you are being quiet. You’re being inactive instead of active.

Some people are uncomfortable saying that they’re doing nothing. It feels unnerving. Or it sounds immoral; you’re being idle. But what’s wrong with being idle? That answer depends on other distinctions, such as lazy versus busy, or resting versus working.


Here’s a real world situation I experienced that made me think about this doing vs being thing.

For my day job working in an office cubicle, I get a one-hour lunch break. And I often thought about what things I could do during that one hour window besides inhale some calories. How much could I get done!? If I planned well, I could have a very productive lunch break running errands.

It got exhausting!

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This “productivity” habit made me stay busy and feel hectic. It was not a lunch break because I was not taking a break from work. Sure, I paused my day-job tasks. But I myself did not pause. I kept on working on personal tasks. My mind kept racing to do the next thing on the to-do list. I kept doing things. I was a human doing.

Now my default for lunch break is to actually take a break! I break my work flow. Instead of doing something for lunch, I prioritize doing nothing. I just be.

I am intentional about letting my mind and body get some rest. So I’m doing nothing in order to do something: rest. And of course I do eat some food. That’s part of rest in the form of replenishment. And better rest helps you do better work later!


What do you do to relax?

Notice that question is asking about doing something. But that something is a relaxing/calm thing instead of a working/busy thing. The opposite of being busy is taking it easy, which is not the same as being lazy.

Some people listen to music. Maybe you read a book. Vege out watching a movie. Play sports. Go for a walk. Put, “Do nothing” on your to-do list.

How do you go from hectic-frantic, crazy-busy, to just quiet-calm? What helps you unwind or decompress? Wine and a good book? Binge watch some Netflix? Is it an attitude or an action – or both? Feel free to leave a comment!

-Jason