Author Eckhart Tolle once pointed out something quite profound — that we are not just humans; we are human beings.
But most of us forget this. We focus solely on our human side — on being a human doing. We’re taught that we must study, get a stable job, work hard, have a family, buy a house, travel twice a year, and tick off a suitable number of acceptable human accomplishments before we can conclude we are enough and our life is worthwhile.
When we run into old friends or family members and they ask how we’re doing, by default we talk about what’s going on in our external world — our travel plans, work projects or renovations. We may even feel awkward or a little embarrassed if we’ve not been ‘doing’ enough to keep busy and have no new concrete ‘activity’ to report.
Of course we have to be human doings at times, we live in the tangible real world where these things are often required of us.
However, it’s so important to also give ourselves space and permission to be human beings — to focus on our inner spirit, our soul, our internal world and experiences.
To connect with our inner spirit through meditation, spending time in nature, journaling, giving to others, creativity or getting lost in the flow of things we love. To spend time in stillness doing nothing at all except experiencing the wonder of being alive. To create a quiet space to listen to our inner voice for answers and guidance.
Most of us have jam-packed to-do lists, but they don’t include self-growth work, inner spirit time, soul-nourishing activities or time to just be alone with ourselves.
This leaves us feeling run down, spiritually empty and disconnected from who we really are. When we’re disconnected from who we really are, we don’t have access to the infinite storehouse of guidance, courage, power, creativity, ideas, love, generosity, security and strength of our inner spirit or Higher Self.
This makes life feel hard, because we’re trying to do everything as our smaller self, cut off from our true strength.
And it makes us feel frightened and alone, because we’re forgetting that we’re fundamentally one with everyone and the Universe is here to support us.
And it makes us confused about our true identity. We start to believe that we are our roles, titles and labels, like teacher or employee, writer or runner, parent or sister, married or single. We start to believe that they somehow encompass our worth and value, and without them we are nothing.
The last time I moved apartments I did a big de-clutter, and I threw out my law degree from University. People were shocked. ‘How could you do that?’ they asked.
It was easy! A degree or title doesn’t make me who I am. When I am standing naked, breathing in and out, without so much as a name I am perfectly complete, valuable, beautiful, worthy, enough, love-filled and all that I ever will be. My inner spirit is the only real part of me. It’s the only part that really matters.
Of course external goals, dreams and achievements are worthwhile and can bring you a huge sense of satisfaction! Set your sights on your dream career, house, travel, lifestyle, abundance, luxury, dining, beauty and all the rest. That’s part of the fun of experiencing life to the fullest — getting to experience earthly pleasures.
But they shouldn’t be the only goals you set. Because your external achievements are only ever a transient presence in your life — looks fade, houses crumble, travel ends, money flows in and out, careers come to a close — but you are you forever.
So have internal goals and dreams as well. Start to seek out self-growth, happiness, inner peace, a closer connection with your intuition, and ultimately, expanding into the highest version of you — blossoming into your best self; all that you can be.
Similarly, of course taking action, creating, moving and being a human doing is worthwhile and an essential part of life — but remember to balance this out with periods of inaction, stillness and listening.
This message was captured beautifully thousands of years ago in this poem from the Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching:
There is a time for being ahead, and a time for being behind
A time for being in motion, and a time for being at rest
A time for being vigorous, and a time for being exhausted
A time for being in certainty, and a time for being in uncertainty
So balance your human side with your being side, and see if it helps you to feel more whole and complete.