Human beings versus human doings

Human beings versus human doings

Some of the fundamental questions that we all face at some point in our lives are: What is my purpose?  Why am I here?  What should I be doing with my life?

In different stages of life we may revisit these questions, such as when the children have grown up and left the family, or when we retire from work, or after a significant life event such as a serious accident or chronic illness that leaves us in a reduced physical capacity.   It may be that everything we held dear and valued about ourselves has been taken away, such as the ability to work, or the regular involvement with friends and community, or even perhaps the ability to take care of ourselves.  What now is the purpose of our lives when the previous value that we gave ourselves is no longer valid?

It is essential to remember that first and foremost we are human beings, as opposed to human doings, and that by just being here in the world, we have inherent value whether we feel it or not.  When we have been so accustomed to measuring self-value by our activity levels, it is a difficult adjustment to see value in ourselves by simply being – here in the world, here in this place.

We are forever changed by our major life experiences.  Circumstances beyond our control may force changes in our lives which we don’t like and may diminish our ability for engagement in many ways, but our intrinsic value as a human being remains nonetheless.  We understand that when one door closes another door opens, but I may never see the doors that open to me in a new phase of my life if I place my self-worth in my ability to do or to function.  Instead I may remain fixed on being the person I used to be, with all of the things I was able to do before life changed irreversibly, setting myself up for ongoing disappointment when I don’t return to my former self.  Over time, ongoing disappointment progresses to disillusionment, depression and despair.

If I honour myself primarily as a human being rather than a human doing, I maintain my inherent self-worth and can better face the reality of my changed circumstances.  Valuing my human being-ness is more likely to lead me to acceptance and patience in my new condition where I can be open to opportunities that will allow me to grow into the person that I am now able to become.

About Margaret Lambert

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  1. Thanks for your article Marg.
    Who was it that said ‘90% of life is just showing up’?

  2. Quite right Lynn, sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other, even if it slips occasionally, is the most courageous thing to do.

    • Rosalinda Isorena says

      Hi Marg. I find your article reflective of cogito ergo sum. Isnt’ this adage interrelated with emotional intelligence? Thinking you found meaning and positivity in life.

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