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July 6, 2015

More Being, Less Doing


Welcome back after what was hopefully a relaxing holiday weekend? I’d like to say that mine was, what with all of the porch parties, good friends and good food, but instead I came to the unnerving conclusion that I am terrible at relaxing. It actually makes me miserable except when I’m sick or stranded on an island and have no other choice. I’m not sure exactly when this happened but I’m finally ready to examine the very thing that may be holding me back from living more fully. The irony that I haven’t had the time or energy for my Monday personal posts isn’t lost on me either. A business coach once told me that we always make time for the things that matter to us most. If that’s true, and I know it is from testing this theory, then my career matters to me most. I spend as much of my human resources as possible trying to get ahead. Be “successful.” Secure my future. Deliver results. Plan my next move. Make myself proud. Impress my clients/boss/readers/followers. I can boil this all down to Doing. If I’m not being productive, checking a box, or getting shit done, I don’t find much value in the activity. Sure, I know how to have fun and set aside plenty of time for family and friends. But in the back of my mind, I’m always worried about what I should be DOING, lest I fall behind. Fall behind on what? That is the million dollar question that I’m tired of paying for. What is the point of all of this doing, going, and getting if we aren’t enjoying the BEING? Just what do I plan to do when I get there? And where is there? And don’t I know by now that I will never get there if I’m not happy with here?

I grew up in a household that valued activity. We didn’t sit and watch TV. We were always doing homework, chores, music, volunteer work or sports. If you were bored, well then go do something. Success was also very much defined by good grades, test scores and what one did for a living. I don’t think my family was unique and I certainly don’t think my parents are to blame for my obsession with doing. They live incredibly well-balanced lives full of be-ing. In fact, no one appreciates the simple things in life more than Pat and Greg. No, somehow over the past thirtysome years I have singlehandedly managed to whittle away at my soul so that she is a mere whisper, drowned out by a very stealthy workaholic who masquerades as a perfectly healthy, productive member of society. The doer wins every time. She is louder and stronger and clearer about what she wants and what she can accomplish, whereas her soulsister seeks things that have no quantifiable value: joy, inner peace, and self-discovery. The soul wants me to read, rest, go to the farmers market, make out on the couch. She wants me to stop working 80 hours a week and take long walks with the dog instead. She wants me to put down my sword and my shield and surrender to the universe even if there is no guarantee how the story will end. But more than anything, my soul wants me to just be. Still and quiet or singing in the car at the top of my lungs. No agenda, no to-do list, no rationale other than this is life, it’s happening right now. If you don’t feel good about it, if you can’t open your eyes in the morning and greet the day with a sense of wonder, what was it all for? I don’t quite know how to tackle this one. It’s a biggie. And it’s incredibly unnatural for me to live differently after all of these years. For example: When I found myself NOT working over the weekend it sent me into a panic. I felt guilty and scared and even a little depressed because I was slacking off. Why? Because I don’t feel in control of my life unless I’m doing. What if it all falls apart when I have my feet up? Then again, what if it doesn’t? I’m taking a chance that there are beautiful discoveries to be made in the being, starting with this blog post. Whether anyone reads it isn’t the point. Writing it is.


  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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