Doing verse Being

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

Our lives are ordered by the things that we do. The activities that we undertake and the results or outcomes that are achieved.

We have developed our learning and development programs for children to reflect this. Kindergarten is a place of play and happiness, being in those moments of play and companionship. This changes as children start the education journey. Tasks, activities, and results start to appear from year one and by the time children enter secondary school education; they are completely focused on the doing tasks of goal achievement, SATs, exams, graduation, etc.

As adults, we are driven by the need to achieve; to get that result; or goal in front of us. Work-related; relationship related; lifestyle or even socially. Everything around us seems to be focused on “Doing” rather than on “Being”.

So what is the difference?

Doing – the act of making something happen through your own action. doings: things that someone does: things that happen

Being – the state or fact of existing or living; existence or life. fundamental or essential nature

There is nothing wrong with “Doing”, after all, we spend most of our lives in “Doing mode”.

However, take a few moments to read the following list and see what it does mean in the context of why it is important to be more aware of “Being mode”?

  • Do you find it difficult to stay focused on what is happening in the present moment? Does your mind wander off? Do you get distracted?
  • Do you tend to walk quickly to get to where you are going without paying attention to what you are experiencing along the way?
  • Do you get to the destination without realising or remembering how you got there? Often, it is when you drive a car and you get to your destination and do not remember the journey.
  • Does it seem as if you are “running on automatic”, without much awareness of what you are doing?
  • Does it seem as if the day has flown past and you can not remember what you have done?
  • Do you rush through activities without being really attentive to them?
  • Do you get so focused on the goal you want to achieve that you lose touch with what you are doing right not to get there?
  • Do you find yourself preoccupied with the future or the past?

So what is the “Being” mode?

The full richness of the mode of “being” is not easily conveyed in words—its is best appreciated directly, experientially and personally. In many ways, it is the opposite of the driven–doing mode and if often unique to each individual. The “Being” mode is not devoted to achieving particular goals. In this mode, there is no need to constantly to monitor and evaluate (“How am I doing in meeting my goals?”).

Instead, the focus of the “Being” mode is “Accepting” and “Allowing” what is, without any immediate pressure to change it.

Simply put, it is trying to live by the adage “living in the flow” or “live moment to moment”, whilst at the same time taking the time to recognise and observe that you are. Imagine as it were you are in an activity – say reading an e:mail. Instead of just reading the e:mail and responding to it; take a moment, just a moment; to reflect on the e:mail, the context of the message and the person who sent it. Chances are you will respond differently to the message than if you just read and responded. This is the “Accepting” element.

“Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal to be reached, and no need to evaluate where you are in trying to achieve the goal. This also means that attention is no longer focused narrowly on only those aspects of the present that are directly related to goal achievement; in “Being” mode, the experience of the moment can be processed in its full depth, width, and richness.

What can help you develop a “Being” mode of thought?

Yoga can help. So too can meditation. For me, I use Mindfulness; being consciously aware and trying to be present. The various practices within Mindfulness are easily adaptable for everyone. Whether it is mindful walking; a body scan; befriending or the simple 3 minute breath exercise; there is a practice there that can help.

Go on give one a try and let me know how you get on. For reference to the various practices you can try, go to the following website for some free examples:

I leave you with the following quote.

“Do not let the memories of your past limit the potential of your future. There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

How do you create a habit that sticks?


“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Rohn

At this time of year, after the festive season, the focus and discussion turn to how to do something different for the New Year. Giving up smoking; going on a diet; starting an exercise regime; getting a new skill; almost anything you can think of.

We all have written that list; be it long or short; of things we want to do differently at the start of the new year. And I can honestly say that we have all failed. It might take a few days or even a couple of weeks, but the change we try to make falls by the wayside. We then get into self-recrimination mode. Which makes the apparent “failure” even worse.

We don’t seem to learn from this and every year without fail, people create “wish lists of change”. What we fail to understand is that you have to start from a different place.

Change your mindset

It is a well know fact that if you want to “give up” something; be it smoking; chocolate; meat or even caffeine; you are setting yourself up for failure straight away with the concept of “giving up”. This is a “loss” mindset. This creates desire. Want. Craving. And like all loss, you crave it more and more.

I know this, having tried to give up smoking on more than one occasion. Having tried to give it up, I managed to last about two weeks, before the craving made me return to cigarettes. The key to me stopping smoking was changing my mindset.  I decided it was my choice to stop smoking. And like all choice, you can choose to start again. January 2006 was when I gave up (A New Year’s resolution). I have not smoked since.

Recognise the habit

Nearly everything we do can create a habit. Eating certain foods like chocolate when you are “unhappy”; smoking a cigarette when you feel “stressed”; opening a bottle of beer at the end of a day’s “work”; almost anything can create a habit that you may find difficult to break.

For me, the habit I had when I smoked was I would get up first thing in the morning; make a cup of tea and open the back door to light my first fag (English slang term) of the day. Part of changing my mindset was recognising the triggers and habits that surrounded them.

So you have got a list of things that you want to do differently; start or stop; what do you do next?

HELPFUL TIP: Remember Mindset, Habit and Reward

Mindset #1: If you are trying to stop something; like smoking or eating something you do not want to eat any more; the starting point is to recognise that you are NOT giving something up. You have choice. Choice to continue or to stop. You are in complete control.

Mindset #2: If you are trying to start something, like a new exercise regime; the starting point is to create space and time for you to be able to exercise. You need to create mental space as well as time and maybe even physical space. When I started Mindfulness, I realised that I had to get up earlier in the morning to be able to practice. As a result, I got up 30 minutes earlier every morning. I also created a physical space to practice in the spare room.

Habit: Any action you follow, be it exercise; eating; diet; whatever, will take time. Some people feel habits can be created quickly. But it does take time. There is a fallacy that it takes only 21 days, less than a month, for a new habit to be formed. However, it can take over two months, or at least 66 days to create a habit that lasts. If you would like further information on why 66 days, check out an article from James Clear –


Finally, reward yourself. When I gave up smoking, I took the £5.00 per day that I spent on smoking and put it in a clear jam jar. Every day I would put in a fiver. For a complete month. At the end of January, I had £155. As a reward, I bought myself an iPod. When I started Mindfulness; I bought myself an exercise mat to use every day, putting it out as a visual reminder to practice.

So, creating that New Year’s change list is only the start. Remember it takes more than just a list to make a change stick.

I leave you with the following quote.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi