These days, it seems like it's becoming harder and harder to be a human being rather than a human doing. "Action" is the buzzword of the day (every day).
In an article I read recently, the author was discussing the oft-asked question, "What are you willing to do to be successful?" The answer, she wrote, (as often expected from those of us serious about obtaining life success) was, "Whatever it takes." She challenged this answer by adding, "…as long as you still love your life."
I would like to take her challenge even further.
First of all, let's look at the question itself. It asks, "What you are willing to do," not what (or who) are you willing to be, in order to be successful in life. Society places an intense focus on external achievement as a measure of success (money, recognition, status, etc.). Along with that is the push for us to constantly market ourselves, our business, our website, our blog, etc. It's not hard to see that it becomes all too easy to lose sight of how to be rather than how to do. We all know there is surely no lack of things to do.
I would propose to you that learning how to be is equally, if not more, important than learning how to do.
It's important to know when to stop, when enough is enough, when getting, achieving, conquering, no longer has a place on the priority list. We can all learn to recognize success in life as being comfortable within one's skin, with the journey one has taken, and with the friendships one has made and sustained.
Defining success as a human being rather than a human doing requires the ability to tune out the constant barrage of external demands on time, talent and resources. It requires the ability to turn inward, to reflect, and to determine with one's own internal set of values and standards what is worthwhile and what is a waste of the precious resource of time. It means defining a life of success based on quality rather than quantity.
Recently my wife's 99-year-old aunt passed away and left a lesson for us all. She was a dear, sweet and loving woman who had truly mastered "being." Her wish for her friends and family, as quoted from her memoirs was, "That we become content with just being. It is not a matter of trying to fulfill a social role; it is a matter of becoming wisdom itself."
So where do we begin? How do you learn to slow down and just take it all in? Try this exercise. For the next five minutes:
* Stop. Breathe. Listen. Rest.
* Reflect on who you are in this moment.
* Identify three internal measures of success for yourself.
* Listen to your inner values and where they're guiding you.
When you take the time to live right now, in this very moment, you allow yourself to reconnect to your true self and gain the wisdom to let go of the things that, in the end, really don't matter, and to cherish those things that you take for granted.
About the Author:
Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 27 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He's the co-founder of Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents. Visit www.vrft.com for more information.