Finding Happiness: Is it in the Being or in the Doing?

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” How often did you hear that question growing up?

Well meaning as the questioners may have been, we know that what they really meant was, “What do you want to do?” Our culture places great emphasis on doing and working. Our very identity gets wrapped up in activity and productivity—particularly if our actions translate into buying power. We are not as rewarded, generally speaking, for simply being.

Small wonder then, that as grow, we often lose sight of those things that bring us joy.

As a child, summers seemed like they went on forever. Whatever I felt like doing, I could do. Riding bikes, roller-skating, swimming, and building forts with the neighbors filled many a summer afternoon. Other times, reading alone in my backyard tent or lying on my back staring at the clouds for hours hit the spot. As the mood struck, I went with it—free of judgment, free of accomplishment.

Actually, I now know, I was accomplishing something. Being in the moment, following my passions, and hanging out with friends was necessary and healing. Without knowing it, I was practicing the pillars of a happy life, which are a byproduct of just being, not so much in the doing.

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