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You are a human being, not a human doing.

August 14, 2023

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Back in college, a friend shared a phrase her mom liked to say: you are a human being not a human doing.

The impact of hearing that was like getting a brain freeze – stopping me in my thoughts then and now (thankfully unlike a brain freeze does). 

As someone who has always struggled with seeing her worth and identity as based on what she does (or doesn’t do) and my performance, finding identity and rooting my worth in something else has been an uphill battle. Daily.

Seeing myself as loved and worthy because I am a human being, period, is such an oxymoron in my head. What do you mean the things I do don’t increase my value? What do you mean the things I fail at don’t discount me or make me unloved? Don’t the things I do matter?

Nod your head with me if these questions resonate with you.

Rest assured, they do. They are valuable and they can be significant and important. And they are not the end all be all to who you are. They are both and.

Let me explain.

Let’s break down human being vs human doing

human being not a human doing, Paris photoshoot

What makes me me and you you, from the time of our birth to when we pass, isn’t found in the roles or identities we hold and often define ourselves by. Think of identities such as teacher, doctor, student, etc. These kinds of identities shift with time, location and passion. They are not foundational to who we are.

They are identities that while good, are identities of doing. And identities of doing aren’t the things that give us our worth. Because our worth is independent of the doing. What makes us worthy, and me me and you you, is rooted in the core of your being a human being.

How your heart doesn’t just beat, but feels emotion and moves you towards acts of kindness and compassion. How your mind doesn’t just tell your body to function, but thinks deeply and dreams ideas that move you towards advocating for others, creating art that brings joy, and writes thoughtful notes to loved ones. How your mouth isn’t only used to taste delicious food, but also is used to encourage, challenge with truth, and ask thoughtful questions from a place of wanting to learn. 

The being of you defines what you do. Not the other way around.

Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in.

Did you just breathe out a sigh of relief – or maybe of slight overwhelm at this shift of perspective? Yep, me too. 

This thinking is not something that comes naturally to most of us living in this hustle culture and performance society. However, just because it’s not natural does not mean it’s not good. Aka, shifting our perspective and posture towards human being and not human doing, might not feel natural and yet, it is good.

My encouragement to you in pursuing life as a human being not a human doing.

human being not a human doing, distressed women's hat

Maybe you don’t struggle with this, that’s amazing. Maybe you are more like me and this takes some deep untangling and unlearning, I’m with you. 

I hope this post was an encouragement to you to keep untangling and unlearning. An empowering call to begin living more freely from who you are and not what you do (or don’t do).

If you don’t struggle with this, I hope this post would be a call to affirm your friends and family who do struggle with this and be advocates of their internal worth.

How you adapt this thinking will (slowly) change your posture of living.

I firmly believe that as we learn this posture and practice living from it, our heart will experience deeper freedom and more joy. The things we do or don’t do will not have holds over us. We’ll have a greater heart of gratitude and stillness of heart as we know that the hustle and bustle doesn’t define us. We will know we don’t need to move towards doing more or in order to seem more valuable for others. 

I believe that as we learn this posture and practice living from it, we’ll have a deeper appreciation for the mundane and trivial. We won’t only look to the flashy to define us or give us worth, but see the small as valuable. And as we do that, we’ll have a better understanding of our story – our overarching story being written and our every day story too.

I’m with you friend. I’m rooting for you. Struggling with you. 

With joy & gratitude,


human being not a human doing, Paris photoshoot

PS: If you want to see how this posture and practice connects more deeply to your story and understanding your story, see this post here

PPS: Curious for more daily inspiration about you as a human being, not a human doing? Check out our Instagram and Pinterest.

PPPS: Want a cute way to remind yourself and others to live as a human being, not a human doing? Our “be” hats are the perfect option for that.

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