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Having Vs. Doing Vs. Being
Old 06-12-2008, 04:32 PM   #1
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Having Vs. Doing Vs. Being

I think the threads on Contentment and What Do You Want got me thinking about this at 2 a.m. after being woken up my cat having some GI problems of both varieties. After cleaning up, I had trouble falling back to sleep but was just a little groggy, so bear with me if this doesn't make a lot of sense....

Very few people on this board are into having/acquiring/owning things. However, this is a small, select group. I think many people in real life are way too hung up on Having.

I may be wrong, but I do think many people here as well as IRL are very much into Doing. Possibly it's due in part to a movie like The Bucket List where two old guys try to do stuff (as I understand it, mostly thrill-seeking, physical, daredevil type stuff like sky jumping) before they kick the bucket. Even young people now are compiling and trying to fulfill their bucket lists. And many vacations are just about Doing---sightseeing or physical challenges.

I can't think of that much that I want to do. I'm more into Being. This doesn't mean that I never do anything or that I just sit in a trance or meditative state, but it seems like I don't seek out unique/challenging experiences. I just do what feels comfortable and satisfying to me, which can be as mundane as reading, listening to music, relaxing, being with animals, etc. My not seeking out "special experiences" may save time/money/gas/hassles/broken bones, but I can't help but wonder if the emphasis on Being is a cop-out (when's the last time you heard THAT word?). Is an emphasis on Doing a guarantee of a fuller life?
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:47 PM   #2
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Is an emphasis on Doing a guarantee of a fuller life?
Yes, fuller than emphasizing 'having' stuff. Stuff can really be an energy drain.

And it matters what you do, there are creative pursuits, charitable pursuits and physical activities. If you are 'doing' what you want you are probably 'being' what you want. Its a bit hard to address being directly although I have found meditation to be an excellent thing 'to do'.
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:54 PM   #3
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I assume that humans do what they do because of genetic programming and rational thought acts as a justification for actions after the fact. Further, we seek out pleasure and seem to be predisposed to not being content with what we have. (Would be willing to track down studies on the above two statements).

So, Having / Doing / Being come down to alternate paths to that end. We're all born with a void... some of us fill it with stuff, some of us fill it with actions, some of us fill it with food, and some of us fill it with introspection. Usually we all do all of those to some degree.

I'll be going to Marquette over the 4th of July. It'll mostly be sitting around and looking at the water, which I could do here, but it's a lot more fun to do it there. I'm just as bad as everyone else.
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Old 06-12-2008, 06:24 PM   #4
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I can't think of that much that I want to do. I'm more into Being. This doesn't mean that I never do anything or that I just sat in a trance or meditative state, but it seems like I don't seek out unique/challenging experiences. I just do what feels comfortable and satisfying to me, which can be as mundane as reading, listening to music, relaxing, being with animals, etc. My not seeking out "special experiences" may save time/money/gas/hassles/broken bones, but I can't help but wonder if the emphasis on Being is a cop-out (when's the last time you heard THAT word?). Is an emphasis on Doing a guarantee of a fuller life?
The answer to your question is an individual one. But it you can get an idea if you are on the right track. Here is how. Would you be happy if at your funeral your husband said:

"She didn't think of that much about what she wanted to do. She was more into Being. This doesn't mean that she never did anything or that she just sit in a trance or meditative state, but it seems like she didn't seek out unique/challenging experiences. She just did what felt comfortable and satisfying to her, which was as mundane as reading, listening to music, relaxing, being with animals, etc. She did not seek out "special experiences" that might save time/money/gas/hassles/broken bones.
If you are happy with that - go for it.

If that is not how you care to be remembered - how would you write it?

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Old 06-12-2008, 06:30 PM   #5
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And it matters what you do, there are creative pursuits, charitable pursuits and physical activities. If you are 'doing' what you want you are probably 'being' what you want. Its a bit hard to address being directly although I have found meditation to be an excellent thing 'to do'.
Well said. My parents are less into 'doing' my high energy things, and I drove them nuts with my stuff, but they are amazingly satisfied with their interests, and I believe that attitude has been (eventually!) passed on to me. It is the individual's satisfaction with their actions that are meaningful.
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:44 PM   #6
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We are all strongly driven at a fundamental level by curiosity. There are classic psychology studies that show just that. I would say that the experiences of doing things, better satisfy that curiosity drive than, say, introspection. Doing, in this sense, doesn't necessarily mean climbing Everest; even a very modest endeavor can be entertaining and a source of pleasant memories.
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:34 PM   #7
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I can only answer your question in this indirect way. I started my life list of experiences when I was 30, obviously before I ever heard of a 'bucket list.' I have reviewed and added to it, and always will, and I have completed about 35 experiences that are significant to me - averaging 1-2 a year. Most are things most people never attempt, my list is all Doing. For me at least, the most challenging things on my list, have always been the times that I feel most alive. A feeling unlike any everyday experience (Being?) to me. The best of them were daunting even frightening (but not dangerous thanks to preparation) going in, but in the moment when I realized I was going to survive, the feeling is electric. Everyday life is great, but those electric moments are the ones that I will never forget and I always look forward to the next one...
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
I think the threads on Contentment and What Do You Want got me thinking about this at 2 a.m. after being woken up my cat having some GI problems of both varieties. After cleaning up, I had trouble falling back to sleep but was just a little groggy, so bear with me if this doesn't make a lot of sense....

Very few people on this board are into having/acquiring/owning things. However, this is a small, select group. I think many people in real life are way too hung up on Having.

I may be wrong, but I do think many people here as well as IRL are very much into Doing. Possibly it's due in part to a movie like The Bucket List where two old guys try to do stuff (as I understand it, mostly thrill-seeking, physical, daredevil type stuff like sky jumping) before they kick the bucket. Even young people now are compiling and trying to fulfill their bucket lists. And many vacations are just about Doing---sightseeing or physical challenges.

I can't think of that much that I want to do. I'm more into Being. This doesn't mean that I never do anything or that I just sit in a trance or meditative state, but it seems like I don't seek out unique/challenging experiences. I just do what feels comfortable and satisfying to me, which can be as mundane as reading, listening to music, relaxing, being with animals, etc. My not seeking out "special experiences" may save time/money/gas/hassles/broken bones, but I can't help but wonder if the emphasis on Being is a cop-out (when's the last time you heard THAT word?). Is an emphasis on Doing a guarantee of a fuller life?
I have learned to not feel guilty about not wanting to do stuff.

Occasionally I feel something crawl out of the reptile brain, but I have learned to recognize it and backhand it.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:00 PM   #9
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Yes, fuller than emphasizing 'having' stuff. Stuff can really be an energy drain.

And it matters what you do, there are creative pursuits, charitable pursuits and physical activities. If you are 'doing' what you want you are probably 'being' what you want. Its a bit hard to address being directly although I have found meditation to be an excellent thing 'to do'.
I can think of one state of being: reading this forum while being slightly toasty.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:06 PM   #10
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I can only answer your question in this indirect way. I started my life list of experiences when I was 30, obviously before I ever heard of a 'bucket list.' I have reviewed and added to it, and always will, and I have completed about 35 experiences that are significant to me - averaging 1-2 a year. Most are things most people never attempt, my list is all Doing. For me at least, the most challenging things on my list, have always been the times that I feel most alive. A feeling unlike any everyday experience (Being?) to me. The best of them were daunting even frightening (but not dangerous thanks to preparation) going in, but in the moment when I realized I was going to survive, the feeling is electric. Everyday life is great, but those electric moments are the ones that I will never forget and I always look forward to the next one...
I'm the same way, but my experiences usually involve some monumental test of mental and physical endurance. Can you be a bit more specific about your experiences? I can think of quite a number of things such as Running of the Bulls, but is that in the ballpark?
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:17 PM   #11
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Tangomonster,

I understand. I still have plenty of things I would like to do but the being part - (appreciating the ones you love, the quiet times, new ideas) seems to be more important these days. I guess some of my ADD is starting to wear off. Maybe that's why so many in this forum have a lower BS threshold and want to reach FIRE.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:47 PM   #12
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I vote for "Doing" - "Doing" is "Being" for me -

I tried just "Being" for awhile, but found I always get bored & eventually start "Doing". Now I figure there's plenty of time for "Being" in during & in-between the "Doing"

I'm not really into "Having" anymore - I finally learned that all that "stuff" you "Have" has all gotta be maintained, cleaned, protected, or taken care of in some other way - & then it depreciates anyway.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:09 PM   #13
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as entertaining & instructive as they might be, both having and doing are ephemeral in nature. the greatest adventure of life is introspection, self-exploration. it is unending. it can not be taken away. having and doing are nothing more than tools for being. if you think that you can climb a higher mountain than you can delve deeper into yourself, then you have failed to even scratch the surface of knowing your own being.

"outward circumstances are no substitute for inner experience."~~c.g. jung
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Old 06-13-2008, 12:28 AM   #14
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I tend to be a "being" kinda of person. I can find comfort and happiness in what most people would find boring everyday routine. I don't crave "doing" (as defined by the OP) that much, though some time to time it's nice to "do" something out of the ordinary. I have no concept of bucket list. Outside of financial planning, I tend not to plan my life very far in advance at all, I usually live one day at a time.
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Old 06-13-2008, 01:06 AM   #15
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My not seeking out "special experiences" may save time/money/gas/hassles/broken bones, but I can't help but wonder if the emphasis on Being is a cop-out (when's the last time you heard THAT word?). Is an emphasis on Doing a guarantee of a fuller life?
It is not a cop out, if indeed cop outs exist. Pretty mnuch the whole of Eastern Thought is about just being.

Ha
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Old 06-13-2008, 05:07 AM   #16
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When getting close to my last gasps of life, would I say: I wish I was.... xyz, or wish I did.....xyz. Definitely in my case glad I did all the stuff I did. It (they?) made me who and what I am today. And I like who I am. At this point there are very few things (doing) I have not done. I matters not weather or not I'll get to them.

Speaking of doing. It is daybreak, the horizon is slowly emerging, the next "doing" is load kayak on top of suburban, and get on the lake before the fog fully lifts and check out the daily miracle of sunrise, and just drift along...............
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:59 AM   #17
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This is really a nice way of looking at things.

DW and I are both "being" people. Many times we've asked ourselves if we were "boring" people -- we never seemed to do much and don't often have the desire to do things. It's not like we sit around striving for satori, we just go about doing the things that make us content.

Truthfully, though, I do want to add some additional "doing" to the list. Even if the actual process of "doing" is something we have to force ourselves to do, the unique memories add to our "being".

"Having" is something I'd like to put less emphasis on. Nice house, BMW, Steinway grand piano are things I have that I really don't want to give up. I wouldn't be surprised if other items get added to that list as I age.


Hrm. Seems like a married couple that have two different types would have a much tougher go of it than two people who both have the same type, regardless of which of the three types that is.
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:10 AM   #18
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Hrm. Seems like a married couple that have two different types would have a much tougher go of it than two people who both have the same type, regardless of which of the three types that is.
I think you're right! This is a highly disregarded aspect of compatibility, and it is related to intrinsic values. IMHO, those who are focused on "doing" and "having" value material things and also the status that comes from "doing" and the related goal of "achieving."

Those focused on "being" value human relationships, self-knowledge, and inner peace. Mothers, for example, who enjoy parenting are highly focused upon "being".

But, in reality, I think that most people have a mix of values that include being, doing, and having.

I always thought that at the end of life I would be happy if I could look back and value my relationships with children, family, and friends but also feel that I had focused my life on knowing who I was and developing my creative inclinations.

I thought that I wouldn't care what I had "done" or "achieved" but I've begun to revise those assumptions lately. I think that I would add "expensive international travel" to my list of "doing" values because I know that I will always value the insights and knowledge gained from traveling to other countries. Also, some of my work is of great value to me and I know that I will still value the time and energy I spent "doing" that.
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Old 06-13-2008, 11:04 AM   #19
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Hi tango - most of what you list as "being" is really "doing" - listening to music, reading, playing with your cats/dogs/whatever. That is "doing" stuff, even if it is not in an exotic local or doesn't have any risk of bodily harm!

I love my down time, which also includes reading and playing with my cats, as much as I love traveling (Alaska trip coming up in a month!). Down time to me is an enjoyable part of life, but I still consider myself doing something.

Now, if you were just sitting on the couch staring into space all day...well...that's a different question.
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Old 06-13-2008, 11:14 AM   #20
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I have what I call the " epitaph" test. What one line, short epitaph on your tombstone would best summarize your life? If it's something that you wouldn't feel proud of, change your life.

I live in a suburb of Seattle that has an interesting policy. Anybody can buy a bench to memorialize somebody. The benches are placed in parks or at a location with a nice view. Each bench has a plaque describing the person memorialized. The plaques typically read something like this:

Joe Blow (date born - date died)
Loving son, husband, father, and friend
-- His wife, children, grandchildren, and friends

I'm a retired Boeing engineer. There are lots of retired Boeing people in the area. I Have never seen a bench that says:

Joe Blow (date born - date died)
Former Boeing engineer
...

If I were memorialized like that, I would take it to mean that I have totally failed as a person.

When all is said and done, nobody cares what you did for a living (or what you did in your spare time). What is important is what kind of a person you were.
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