The Joy of Being vs. Doing
I need to keep busy and often. If I have too much time on my hands, then I feel like something is wrong and my day feels wasted. For many of us, what we don’t realize is that we’re filled with distractions, ones that can mostly be blamed on ourselves. We usually create distractions for ourselves because often times it’s better than facing what the silence might reveal to us.
For a very long time I needed to keep so busy that working 65-75 hours a week was not only tolerable, but eventually became the norm and the only thing that made me feel satisfied. Once you set a really high bar for yourself and you’re able to somewhat clear it, then nothing below this extraordinarily high standard computes to success. Why is it wrong to have out-of-this-world, ridiculous standards for yourself? Because it not only affects you, it becomes the standard you place on everyone else. It’s not always obvious that you are actually projecting your impossible standards on others because you’re doing so subconsciously. If you’re reflective enough you might catch yourself doing it, or if your fortunate enough a good friend will pull you aside to explain what you can’t see.
The hours you choose to work, the way you might expect perfection from your partner or love interest, the products you buy, the services you receive, how co-workers or those you manage perform, and especially what you demand out of yourself — all of these have one thing in common: Absurdly unrealistic expectations. If you boast of your perfectionists ways, your competitive edge and your need for high standards in all areas of life then be careful when calling these qualities “good” or even “healthy.” It’s not about swinging to the extreme only to welcome slothful behavior, lazy work and personal habits. You don’t have to lower your standards to the point of dating the first woman or man who comes along willing to give you an ounce of attention.
It’s striking that balance we can all benefit from, regardless of how harmonious of a life you might think you already live. If you think you’ve already learned everything there is to know then wake up! You obviously aren’t being honest with yourself and you may need to come to terms with the fact that your ego is getting in the way of a real growth opportunity for you. Some people don’t wish to grow because they truly think they know everything. But, in reality everyone, regardless if they are a genius or a billionaire, has room left for learning and growth. And if your things define you then you need to do some real soul-searching because you are not your things. We are not our assets and how much or little we have in our bank accounts does not define us. The true nature of a man isn’t quantified by what he has gained. Otherwise, you’re left with a never-ending pit, a black hole in the soul that can’t be filled because no amount that you possess can give you that feeling of contentment.
The Bottom Line
If you find joy in doing, then you’ll always have to be doing something. You’ll always have to find yourself in the middle of the action because the opposite, in your mind, will be that you’re not truly living. Once you pull away from your high standards and expectations, you’ll notice that there is a lot of space to simply be. And there’s a lot of people out there, myself included, who feel it’s frivolous to be because I’d rather be doing. Being feels like you’re not doing enough, but you’ll be surprised at how much you are truly achieving in the simple act of being.
It’s much better to be and find joy in giving, rather than the hundreds and thousands of hours worked to earn and gain. You can try to convince yourself that having high standards makes you successful, but it’s an illusion. No one can constantly measure up to those standards. One day, you fall short or someone else will, and all you’ll be is disappointed as your reason for living and your level of happiness comes crumbling. It’s best not to rely on high expectations when you can find satisfaction, contentment and joy in just being.
5 thoughts on “The Joy of Being vs. Doing”
January 13, 2015 at 9:23 AM
This is a great post! Seems like a mental mirror image of myself. I too ALWAYS needed to be doing something. I’d work a full work week + overtime, manage my household, start a new business at least twice a year, and also got into real estate investing, currently having 6 properties to manage. As of recently I’ve put the brakes on. I am simplifying EVERYTHING. I know that I have a lot to learn about myself, and like you mentioned I am trying to figure out a balance of still accomplishing things and not feeling like a piece of shit when I’m not. I’m learning how to just “be.” It’s a hard transition for me, but i know making a conscious effort will benefit me greatly. You really summed it up well, thanks for the post!
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January 13, 2015 at 2:58 PM
I also agree with you and can relate. I was doing way too much and sometimes life or circumstances fall into place where things have to be put on hold or you are forced to slow down. Life happens and then you can sometimes go from going a million miles a minute to having everything sort of put on pause. It’s a strange feeling, it’s almost “out of body.” I am not used to slowing down and not being really, really busy. I learned I didn’t like sitting still. I didn’t like just “being.” And recently, I started to come to terms with the fact that everything does tend to happen for a reason. You find yourself at a transition in life where you’re now being taught a big lesson and it’s not in all the things you have done or want to do. But, it’s in the silence and being still. It’s uncomfortable for some of us to sit still and just be and figure out what balance looks like to us. How can we accomplish and also make time to be? I am still trying to figure it out. 🙂
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January 13, 2015 at 9:32 AM
Reblogged this on Redefining "The Good Life" and commented:
I enjoyed this post thoroughly. The art of “being” and not just “doing” is my personal work in progress, and I think staying mindful of that can benefit everyone!
January 13, 2015 at 4:59 PM
So funny, I found this RIGHT AFTER posting on the same topic. It is so refreshing to read such wonderfully stated articles. “Just Be” is my new mantra. 🙂 Look forward to following!
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January 13, 2015 at 7:08 PM
Sarah, I just saw your post and read it after your comment. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts too. I know it’s tough I think especially for women because we have to juggle work and motherhood and career. Some of us really try to do it all and some of us have to stop to decide between career or family. Especially if circumstances places you in a situation where your heart and gut wants to be home with the kids. But, women tend to have to sacrifice. Then we realize that it isn’t really a sacrifice, but a choice based upon the larger picture. 🙂