Human beings are consumed with doing. From the moment humans awake, till the time humans go to sleep, the mind constantly directs us to do things. Taking out the trash, balancing the check book, checking our email, watching television, talking to our friends or family members, completing endless tasks at work, and taking our kids to their activities, are just a few of the infinite possible tasks on our daily schedules. For some, the thought stream is very logical and orderly. For others, the mind chatter is like a pinball bouncing randomly all over the place. What is true for all human beings, however, is that the compelling thoughts to constantly keep doing things are incessant. I have patients tell me all that they are unable to sleep because they cannot seem to turn off the mind chatter. For the younger generation, it is even worse. They multitask! It is no longer good enough to focus on one thing at a time. Now this generation is attmpting to focus on as many things as possible simultaneously. They listen to music, text their friends, complete their homework assignments, look at their Facebook posts and messages, and Instagram their friends all at the same time. If they are unable to multitask, they believe they are inferior to their peers and consider themselves to be failures.
Is this healthy? A recent scientific study revealed that multitasking lowered a patient’s IQ more than marijuana or alcohol. This incessant compulsion to do as much as possible, both in our personal and professional lives, is leading to more harm than good. Burnout at work is increasing. Job satisfaction is declining. Face to face communication is decreasing at an alarming rate resulting in the lost of direct human contact. With the advent of smart phones, I have witnessed families sitting at a table in a restaurant where each member is on their respective phones and not one word of conversation takes place throughout the entire meal. Do you believe this can be healthy? Doing has become an addiction. Is there an alternative?
Being is focusing your awareness on the present moment. Focusing on the here and now. This focus can take place in many ways. For example, you can be aware of the taste of your food, the speed at which you walk, the rate at which you are breathing, the state of your current emotions, the sounds that surround you, the words someone is speaking to you, and the sensations which are occurring in your body. The state of being is a state of acceptance. It is a state of accepting what is happening in the current moment. It is a state in which things are neither labeled “good” or “bad”. Things just are. When we are present in the moment, fear and anxiety cannot exist. How can one move from a state of doing to a state of being? A simple way to learn how to live in a state of being is to perform mindfulness exercises each and every day. The more time spent in exercising mindfulness, the easier it will be to live in a state of being. The paradox is that if you live in a state of being then the quality of the things you DO each day will be transformed.