Doing freelyThere’s a place for a task-oriented focus; it feels good to get things done. But sometimes “doing” can become driven, stressful, anxious, or irritated. Like I have been feeling this week with my theme preparation. So, I am taking Rick Hanson’s advice of approaching my daily tasks, large and small, with a sense of ease, choice, and freedom: doing freely.

What are you doing? Do it freely. Why?

Most of us spend most minutes of our days doing one thing after another. Driving to work, making dinner, brushing one’s teeth, or putting the kids to bed. For most people, the answer to how you are, is busy. Doing is a huge part of life, yet we don’t usually bring much awareness to it.

Sometimes doing feels good. There could be a sense of flow in everyday activities, pleasure in your own skillfulness or competence, or fulfillment in helping others.

But often doing feels numb, or worse: grinding through repetitive tasks, zipping from one email to another, worried about performance, pressured and driven. The relentless pace of stressful doing gradually wears down mental and physical health and fuels conflicts with others. It’s a big problem, with many costs.

How does your own doing generally feel for you?

Can we do a little less and spend more time just being rather than doing. Even though we still have a lot to do, much of it toward wholesome ends, from providing for oneself to helping with homework, to expressing our abilities and helping the world be a better place. How can we do what we do without getting stressed and driven about it? We should strive to feel at ease in the experience of doing, not trapped by or in it. Some suggestions given by Rick Hanson are:

Focus on the high priority things – like taking care of your health, making room in your heart for others, or protecting time for the important-but-not-urgent tasks at work – and let the little ones go. As the saying goes: If you’re filling a bucket, put the big rocks in first.

Be mindful of the sense of pressure – a sign that you’re getting caught up in doing. When you notice this, exhale slowly. See if you can keep on doing – even quickly – while also feeling more relaxed and at ease.

Do one thing at a time. Bring mindfulness – sustained moment-to-moment awareness – into the doing. We can develop this steadiness of mind, through activities like meditation, yoga, making art or music or even math problems (for some!).

Feel the completion as you finish each thing you do. For instance, take a second to notice that you have placed a plate in the dishwasher before moving onto the next dish; after arriving at work, let it land that this part of your day is now behind you; after talking with a friend, let the experience reverberate in your mind for a breath. Try to experience doing as living.

All you can do is the best you can do: you can tend to the causes, but the results are out of your hands. For example, all you can do is say what is in your heart as sincerely and skillfully as you can, but what others do with that in their own minds is up to them, not you.


Doctor: I am not exactly sure of the cause; I think it could be due to alcohol.

Patient: That’s ok.  I will come back when you are sober!