Being vs. Doing

An excerpt from an article called “Life’s Work” by Rich Fernandez.

When I was a young child I spent several years living with my extended family in the Philippines, where I learned to speak Tagalog. The language contains a beautiful expression for work – hanap buhay. When literally translated this term for work means “the search for life.” I have always liked this way of thinking about work – that it is an inward journey towards discovery where the things that make you feel most alive become your life’s work.

During childhood there is often a certain moment when a well-meaning adult asks you the big question, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” What I like about this question is that it embraces the idea that work is an expression of who you are as well as who you want to be. Yet that familiar question takes an odd turn when you actually become an adult. “What do you do for a living?” becomes the question we typically ask each other. Gone is the inquiry about what you aspire to “be.” This shift in emphasis from “being” to “doing” focuses you solely on the external activities and behaviors that you perform for your work, rather than on your intrinsic values, strengths and motivations.

“Most of us think too much about what we should do and not enough about what we should be,” said the fourteenth-century mystic Meister Eckhart. “If we would pay more attention to what we should be, our work would shine forth brightly.”

Link to the entire article here.

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