Doing vs. Being

If you are busy every minute of your day, it may be time for a closer look at how you are spending your days and examine what you are really getting done. As a society, we have become addicted to doing or action addiction. Addicted to doing is a human condition caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Dopamine is the culprit. As you may know, dopamine is highly addictive and a naturally produced reward-drug that, when released in the brain, provides us with a short-term of excitement, relaxation, and indulgence. So what those this have to do with doing vs. being?


Every time we are doing things such as checking our Facebook page, filling up our calendars with events or ordering things online, dopamine gets released. It makes us feel good for a moment, leaving the brain craving for more. Overtime, we wind up caught up in a vicious circle of action (doing) and reward to get our dopamine fix.


Action addition or doing mode has been called an advance sort of laziness. I know this sounds bad but stay with me. From a mindfulness perspective, the busier we keep ourselves, the more we avoid being upset with questions of life. As we keep ourselves busy with tasks, significant or not, we escape facing life. With all our actions we think we get closer to something greater. We might not know what it is, but we keep working at it. To put this into perspective, I like to use the example of climbing a ladder.


Let's say you need to get to the rooftop of your house; you see a ladder, you climb it as fast as you can, hoping to get to the top fast. Once you reached the top of the ladder, you realize that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall and you have to walk across the roof to get to your desired destination. Doing mode is not a negative action or something we should eliminate from our lives. As humans, we need both doing and being mode. These two modes are necessary to accomplish certain things in life. We just need to be mindful and cognizant of when we activate one or the other. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two modes.



  • Goal oriented

  • Our brain is constantly closing the gap between how things are and how things should be

  • Limited focus

  • Constantly thinking about the past and future

  • Our brain is in constant evaluation mode (judging)

  • We crave action

  • We only focus on short-term wins



  • Our thinking is open and curious

  • We have no specific focus, we see and accept things as they come

  • We are present moment by moment

  • Our brain is in observation mode

  • We become strategic and do better with long-term visioning


Activities are important, as we all need to cook, work, clean, socialize and do things that are required of us. The message here is to simply become aware of when to choose to create some space into our endless to-do list and the busyness of our lives.



Next time you get to your office or workplace, just as you are to get in action mode, sit down or stand up, look out the window or focus on something on the wall. Don’t act, don’t talk, don’t do anything. Just be still. Do nothing for three minutes If you are challenged by the inactivity and get restless and experience an urge to be busy, then you are experiencing some degree of action addiction.


Practice: Slow down. Get more done!

Implement awareness breaks by setting your alarm to go off every hour. When you get the notification, if you can, stop what you are doing, let go of thoughts and direct your attention to your breath or to the physical sensation of standing up. You will only do this for 45-second every hour.


This break will function as a reset button to help you reset your mind.

By doing this practice, you will get out of the wheel spinning, increase your focus, and allow your calm nervous system to activate.


Try it!

Alarm goes off: Stop...

Focus your attention on: breath or physical sensations of standing up.

At the first breath cycle, relax your body and mind.

At the second breath cycle, focus your attention on your breath or physical sensations of standing up.

At the third breath cycle, ask your self, “What am I doing right now: Chasing mice or going after the bigger prey?”