Are You a Human Being or A Human Doing?

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.  ~Ovid

Do you yearn to sit outside and read a book and just “be” for one day?

I do. It seems as if I always have too much to do and too little time to do it in.

Will our lives implode if we stop “doing” constantly?

During my morning meditation today I had a few revelations as to why I’ve become a “human doing” and how I lost my connection to just “being.”

I’m overwhelmed from driving myself too hard. I realize that my overwhelm stems from my not having scheduled any leisure time into my jam-packed schedule. I’m the one responsible for putting myself under so much pressure.

I allowed myself to become a “human doing.”

I kept telling myself that as soon as I got everything done on my list I would relax. I’d take some time off and maybe go away for a week when my book was finished.

The problem though is that the list never ends. I keep adding things to it that must be done in conjunction with the projects I’m working on.

We will always have a to-do list

I realized I’ll never be free of my list – ever – and neither will you. The only way to free yourself is to carve out the time and allocate it to just “being.”

Give yourself permission to just “be”

You may need to work on reprogramming the messages received from parents in early childhood. Many children were praised only when they were productive and accomplished something.

Now that you’re an adult it’s time to reexamine those scripts and see if you’re still operating like the student who fears bringing home an A-.

I realized that by putting myself under so much pressure I’d turned on this old “script” again.

Allowing this script to run our lives means we’ve succumbed to the belief that we’re worth only what we produce. This devalues us as a human beings. It also deprives us of accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally – just for being.

Time to check in and see if this script is running your life – if so – chuck it out now.

Schedule time for leisure

Add leisure activities to your to-do list. Add things like: Take the afternoon off, go out for dinner and a movie tonight, take a digital break or, spend the morning at the park. If you’re going to relax you’ll have to become as disciplined about crossing these activities off your list as you are about everything else.

Setting unrealistic goals is a trap

Don’t push yourself so hard. Avoid making long to do lists that you can’t possibly accomplish in one day. Break up all the projects into more manageable chunks with longer time frames for completion of the overall project. Then add only the things that can be accomplished that day to your list.

When I go overboard on a daily to do list it means I have not left any time in the day for fun. I’m constantly working on the whittling down the list. Just seeing the lengthy list makes me more anxious.

Make your daily list “just right”

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Take a lesson from Goldilocks and make your list “just right.” Not so short that you’re not making healthy progress toward accomplishing your goals and not so long that you feel you can’t come up for air.

Pare down on activities that add unnecessary stress

Another insight I had during my meditation was that I was feeling besieged by keeping up with social media. How many networks is enough? I’m on overload with it.

Additionally, I realized I’m getting more email each day than I can handle. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs – so each day my in-box is burgeoning with new posts. The pressure to keep up is tremendous.

I’m going to explore changing over my subscription from email to Google reader subscriptions to reduce the number of emails I get. Seeing so much mail in my box is almost paralyzing at times.

Giving your brain a break

I’ve been lax about meditating twice per day recently. I used to meditate twice per day but as I got busier I scaled back to once per day. The time to meditate is when we’re stressed.

Meditating and focusing on breathing are great ways to reduce stress levels.

Meditating brings us back into the present moment too.

I found I was stressed out by the length of my list because reading it was projecting my thoughts into the future. I wasn’t focused on what I was doing but, on what I had yet to complete.

When we’re too busy and we stop meditating we also don’t hear our intuition as easily. This is another unwelcome side effect of becoming a “human doing.” Racing thoughts will overshadow intuitive flashes each and every time.

My prescription to myself and to  you to become a “human being” again:

1. Meditate – or just “be” by relaxing for 20 minutes or longer each day. Two times a day is even better. Breath deeply and decompress. Put on some soothing music in the background and blow out all the tension in your body with each exhalation.

2. Get away from the computer/email/internet. Turn off your phone and all communication devices including the television and radio. Enjoy the silence and being in the present without all the distractions.

3. Take frequent breaks and if at all possible take them outside in the garden. Spending time in lush green surroundings is restorative to the soul. Green is the color of the heart chakra – so if the heart chakra is love – than all of nature’s greenery is vibrating to that same energy of love too. Soak up some love outdoors in nature!

4. Make shorter more realistic lists. Don’t add to the stress in your life with long lists.

5. Schedule time for rest, relaxation, socializing, fun and vacations. Put these things on your list and make it a point to cross them off as you do them. You’ll feel great afterward.

Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” 

Welcome back human beings.

Do you measure your life by what you’ve accomplished? Have you lost touch with just ‘being?’ Could you see yourself “being” more by doing less?

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P.S. – please subscribe to my newsletter and get your  free copy of, “The Intuition Primer.”


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  1. I had so much to do. You keep me on track too~!
    Elena Harding recently posted…Acne TipsMy Profile

    • Hi Elena,
      I’m glad you this post is keeping you on track!
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  2. Excellent list, and such an important message. I take several half hour breaks each day just to get outside with my dog, maybe read a chapter in a book … and each time when I return to work I feel energized. In fact I just wrote about the idea of creating our own holidays … we could all celebrate more!
    marquita herald recently posted…Feel Like You Could Really Use a Holiday? Why Wait?!My Profile

    • Marquita,
      Taking frequent breaks is a great idea. I like the notion of creating your own holidays too! I find that I have every intention of taking breaks and then I don’t so, for me I need to get off the computer and leave the house for a few days. If I don’t do that I will turn on the computer and start working again. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  3. Hi Angela,

    I will admit it I do not make a to do list and I love it that way. Hey, i make a list for the store and i always forget to take it with me. Life is to be lived, and not with a list. If you can’t remember what you need to do today, there is always tomorrow. Just joking.

    I do know I am not in the in crowd when I admit this, but it is me and my reason for not making list, is so my mind gets the exercise it needs when it comes to remembering. Use the mind as much as possible, even for those small things, so you keep the muscle in good shape.

    As for taking time for myself when I need it, my mind tells me when it needs a rest and when my body does.

    I do like your tips for people that make and use lists, you can’t let them run your life.
    Blessing to you,

    • Hi Debbie,
      I understand your need to exercise your mind. I also need but not for the same reasons. When you use your intuition like I do – you need to have a really good memory and a clear mind to capture intuitive flashes when they rip through and lightening speed.
      I agree though you can’t let lists run your life. I’d been doing that and it felt lousy.

  4. Hi Angela,
    Lately I have been Human Doing instead of Human Being. What stuck out to me was what you said about “healthy progress.” I have really been focusing on doing the things that work and stopping doing the things that don’t–the sort of things that make you look like you are gaining headway, when all you are really doing is wasting time.

    Sometimes I think that I procrastinate because what I should be doing is hard, but the truth is that the procrastinating is hard. Not only does it waste time, but it is energy vampire.
    Lisa H. recently posted…Are You Listening to Me? 7 Tips to Becoming a Good ListenerMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa,
      What great insights you’ve shared with us.
      I procrastinate sometimes too.
      The idea of healthy progress came to me because I pushed myself to hard to do too much in one day.
      Today I made a list with only 5 things on it. 3 of them can be done in less then 15 minutes the other two may take more than an hour or two a piece. I feel okay with that.
      I understand about thinking what you should be doing is hard too.
      Blogging isn’t “hard.” It’s time consuming and requires a lot of reflection and rumination to gather your insights in order to write something of value – but it’s not like doing “physical labor.” I think we’re conditioned to thinking work should be “hard” like a job with lots of stresses and meeting of your bosses expectations. The thing is – I’m harder on myself than any boss I’ve ever had!

  5. great post Angela
    i like posts that are organized in points
    keep it up :)

    • Hi Farouk,
      It’s such a pleasure having you visit PbI.
      I’m glad you enjoyed one of my more “organized” posts. LOL.
      I’m not sure how I managed to do it though….my mind is racing at about 100 MPH>
      Thank you for commenting.

  6. Hi Angela!
    I can relate to this: “I kept telling myself that as soon as I got everything done on my list I would relax.”
    Yikes! I have recently decided to take a “digital break”, or to use an old-fashioned term, a Day of Rest, on Sundays. It feels good to do that! :-)
    I love your suggestion to spend time in a garden. (check!) and to meditate. I’ve finally found a way to meditate that works for me!
    You keep me on track Angela!
    Lori Gosselin recently posted…How Does Your Friendship Grow?My Profile

    • Lori,
      It’s such a pleasure to see you. I’m glad you’re taking a day of rest. 6 months ago I vowed to take weekends off and I did for about 2 months but slowly it all crept back in. I’m going to follow you now. Maybe start with Sundays……
      You keep me on track too~!

  7. Very helpful tips, Angela. I bought an iPhone in February, my first smartphone, and I am really struggling with having it not take over my life. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true! At times I find myself constantly checking my e-mail or bringing up Facebook. I need to begin turning my phone off at specific times just to give my brain and body a break. I enjoyed all of your other tips as well. It’s good to be reminded sometimes.
    Anne recently posted…Book Review – MESSAGES; Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11My Profile

    • Hi Anne,
      I have resisted getting a smartphone for that very reason. I still have a flip phone.
      I know. FB is so engaging. It sucks up time better than the most expensive vacuum cleaner on the planet!
      I’m glad you enjoyed this post.
      It’s such a pleasure meeting you and having you comment.

  8. One of the best things about you Angela, is that when you gain personal insight you share it. I can relate to this post and so can my husband and I’m guessing millions of us. Even in my small step path the desire to get more accomplished grows and I push a bit more – the danger is we can push too far and go into what you call “Human Doing” and not being.

    Your insights and tips in this post are brilliant & oh so necessary!
    Aileen recently posted…How One Small Shift Can Change Your ExperienceMy Profile

    • Hi Aileen,
      Thank you so much. We all want to accomplish things in our lives – which is fine but, there seems to be no balance anymore.
      We work from home – so we never stop working.
      We have internet capability wherever we are so we’re always checking email and texting.
      Where does it end? When can we just be. I can see you’re experiencing the same thing.
      I want to go somewhere and not take my cell phone – or at least not answer it once in a while.

  9. Great blog! A timely reminder of what’s important :-)

    • Hi Jo,
      I’m glad you enjoyed this post.
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.
      It’s a pleasure to meet you.

  10. Love this Angela. I am all about becoming a human being and I loved everything you said here :) You are so right that if we aren’t careful, the whirlwind of life can just suck us in. I thought the distinction you made between a human doing and human being was amazingly insightful. Thanks for another great article.
    Sibyl recently posted…39 Things You May Want to Do Even If Other People Tell You They Are WrongMy Profile

    • Hi Sibyl,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. You put that so well: The whirlwind of life can just suck us in.
      I find the faster I try to go the faster my life goes by. Time to slow down and smell the roses, right?
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  11. A human doing–that’s great! I thought when I retired that I would just naturally have plenty of being time. However, I find that I have to deliberately choose to make room for that just like I did when I was working. My brain definitely needs a break from time to time! Great post.
    Galen Pearl recently posted…God Bless That Ol’ @#&!My Profile

    • Hi Galen,
      I can understand that. It makes sense to think you’d have more time after retiring.
      I think we all need to plan for our down time. There’s so many more distractions now.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  12. Hello Angela,

    You know what? I know this, I really do and yet, lately, I have allowed myself to become so busy with so many things that I have definitely been a Human Doing. I suppose, like you, I had fallen back upon previous habits/programming and I am grateful to you for nudging me back to awareness.

    :-) Thank You
    Keith recently posted…Live . . .My Profile

    • Hi Keith,
      I know. I know it too, yet I let myself get scattered and all worked up into a frenzy.
      I’m glad I was able to nudge you.
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

  13. Doing is all the rage it seems. Somewhere along the way, relaxing became a dirty word, and heart attack became a common occurrence.
    Joe Bill recently posted…The Parable Of the IceMy Profile

    • Hi Joe,
      I think “doing” has been all the rage for a long time. Life has been speeding up faster and faster during the growth of the information age.
      We get so caught up in everything we don’t give ourselves time to relax and just “be.”
      I think you’re right the Monday Morning heart attack is definitely a symptom of doing, doing, doing.
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. It’s nice to meet you.

  14. Hi Angela,

    Excellent reminders!! We can so easily get carried away, especially when we have created a project of our own. It can easily take over our lives. I know when I am on overload when I tell myself I don’t have time to meditate. I realize that should be the first priority. Thanks for the great reminder!
    Cathy recently posted…Are You Ready to Let Go of Codependency and Take Care of Yourself?My Profile

    • Hi Cathy,
      I’ve done the same thing with meditation and it didn’t turn out so well – as you can see from this article.
      I’m back on track now and feeling less stressed out.
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting Cathy.

  15. Less is actually more. I make it a point to schedule me-time or downtime every week. I have found that I need to do this for sanity. There was a period when I didn’t and I realized how out-of-alignment I became.

    Yes, it’s easy to cut back on meditation time because it seems so unproductive to be just sitting there and not do a thing. However, I have come to realize that meditation is an investment for my clarity. I accomplish much more during the day, if I meditate. It’s not time-wasting, for sure.

    • Evelyn,
      Ever the voice of reason. Yes, I became scattered and out of alignment recently.
      Pushing to make my deadline on the book nearly had me flat on my back.
      I’m back to my 2x per day meditation and it feels better already.
      Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us.

  16. Hi Angela,

    I’ve also found myself slacking on my meditation. When I was taking time each day I had many more spiritual experiences. Guess I need to find some time for myself.
    Todd recently posted…Give It LoveMy Profile

    • Hi Todd,
      Great to see you.
      It’s so silly isn’t it? When we most need to meditate we decide we can’t spare the time.
      Please give yourself some time – I’ve gone back to my twice a day routine.

  17. Very helpful advice you have shared here Angela. In my case, I just spend time to the people that brings joy to me. Not only am I relieved of my stress but it relieves me of my burning routine. :-)

    • Walter,
      A great response. Just do what brings you joy.
      Terrific. Why didn’t I think of that before I became so stressed?
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  18. I realized that when I was working full time, I used to always wish I could pull over on my way to an appointment and just go to the beach. And yet, when I had nothing but time for over a year, I never went! So I’ve been doing my morning workout there a couple of days a week. Sometimes I just multi-task on “calm” by meditating while I am on the elliptical – it’s different, but it works.

    It’s OK to miss blog posts (Google Reader is the only way to live). It’s OK to miss your regular posting. No one says “you must” except you, right? I would go 24/7 mentally if I didn’t self impose my physical and emotional breaks.
    Julie recently posted…What To Do When You Don’t Know What To DoMy Profile

    • Hi Justin,
      You’re so wise. Yes, being is who we really are. I thought the quote I used in the beginning of the post said it very well too.
      All this perpetual doing does wear us down doesn’t it?
      Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and retweeting. I truly appreciate your support.

  19. Hi Angela,
    You have covered this very well. The overwhelm of Life can take our “being” away without our realising it. We need to make time to “be”.
    I am not against the “doing” side of things, there’s stuff that has to be done. The challenge, I believe is to do things that are in sync with our ‘being’. The real challenge is to morph the ‘doing’ & ‘being’so that both become blissful “being”…..does that make sense?
    be good to yourself
    David Stevens recently posted…How is your Motivation?…..Is it time to turn up the “Volume” in your LifeMy Profile

    • David,
      I love your comment. You’ve included so much useful advice for us.
      I think the idea of “morphing” doing and being so that they become blissful being is a great one.
      Thank you!

  20. Great, great, great advice. Something else…we simply “do” better when we give ourselves recooperation time. I used to think that working ont he weekend was a must. I had so much to do. Funny, I started taking weekends off and I still get the work done that’s needed. And I do it better.

    • Hi Rosemarie,
      It’s so true. We need to recharge our batteries once in a while or we won’t be operating at the same level.
      I feel that now. I feel worn down. I need a vacation big time.
      Weekends off sound good to me! I’m glad you’re getting more rest.
      You’re a very hard worker, I know.

  21. I love Google Reader too! It’s so organizey! I only get a very small handful of important blogs via email (including yours, of course).

    I think it’s best not to try to do more than one or two major things per day – whatever seems most pressing or that will deliver the most value or pleasure. I think if we do that, the less critical things will just fall by the wayside, and life will keep moving along. Usually these important tasks will spring right to mind, even without a list. That’s how you know they’re important!

    My mom and I went on vacation a few weeks ago for the first time in a long time, and even though we were in a major resort and shopping area, we spent a lot of time just sitting around the hotel room reading and whatnot. It was just nice not to HAVE to do anything. I recommend it!

    Thanks for another great article and reminder to chill out, Angela!
    Anna Barlowe recently posted…Squirrel TaleMy Profile

    • Hi Anna,
      It’s so nice seeing you!
      Your vacation sounds fantastic.
      Doing nothing sounds fantastic too.
      I’m sure your right about only doing two things per day that are really important too.

  22. Hi Angela, powerful tips. Indeed, we all need to be jolted back to our ‘beingness’ from time to time… I certainly do. As a driven, goal oriented person who loves aspiring to new aims and aspirations it is essential for me to come back to my sense of self. I schedule meditative walks at least twice per day, a time to be “off the grid” not only reminds us of our Authentic Nature but makes us more focused and intentional when tackling our list of daily duties.
    rob white recently posted…Love is a Spontaneous ReactionMy Profile

    • Hi Rob,
      Yes, it’s so true. We need to return to just being more often. That’s the only way to get a true read of our selves.
      All the activity is not only distracting but gives us a false sense of self too.
      I love the idea of being off the grid walking in nature.

  23. Angela,

    A wonderful reminder to take-in life rather than just living life. Too often I confuse activity with living. Rather than facing each day with a full agenda, I’ve found I’m happier when I do less and enjoy more.

    Here’s to the little things!


    • Hi Alex,
      That’s it! We “confuse activity with living.”
      What a great way to put it.
      I agree. I think I’m going to be happier now that I’ve caught myself being a human doing rather than a human being also.

  24. Hi Angela,

    You are so right. We often only praise kids for being productive, and worse yet, we often scold them as “lazy” if they didn’t “do” anything that day. I think that comes from parents who feel they are trapped in a job they don’t love being a little resentful that their kids just get to sit around all day… instead of asking “what did you do today?”, perhaps we should be asking “how did you feel today?” :)

    I switched over to Google reader a while back and all I can say is: it’s a Godsend. Do it and do it now. It becomes your choice when to read other blogs, and really cleans up your inbox. You should schedule time to read and answer your mails (don’t do it all day) and schedule a different block of time to read and comment on blogs. Preferably when you really want to. If you mix the two, you’ll end up getting overwhelmed. It’s made a huge difference for me.

    Thanks for the insights!
    Melody recently posted…Take This Job and Love ItMy Profile

    • Melody,
      Thanks for your very helpful tips. I really appreciate your sharing them here on PbI.
      I’m sure I’m not the only one who could use this advice.
      I like your idea of asking your kids, “How did you feel today” rather than “what did you do today?
      Excellent idea too!
      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding so much to the conversation here.



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