I previously shared this important concept from Naked Idealism as part of a discussion on wealth, where it generated a few interesting responses.
Several decades ago, Shakti Gawain outlined a simple but powerful model in her popular book Creative Visualization. She holds that much of our existence is based upon three interrelated aspects that support each other: being, doing and having.
- Being is “the basic experience of being alive…the experience of being totally complete and at rest within ourselves.”
- Doing is “movement and activity. It stems from natural creative energy.”
- Having is “the state of being in relationship with other people and things in the universe…the ability to allow and accept things and people into our lives; to comfortably occupy the same space with them.”
The above definition of having is likely very different from what the word generally brings to mind for you. We usually equate having with possessing something, but it goes well beyond that.
For example, each of us may possess a car, but we may relate to that object very differently. I may use my car once a week, never taking the time to wash it; and the role it plays in my life is one of pure utility. On the other hand, you may depend much more heavily upon your car, utilizing it three times a day and spending two hours each weekend seeing that it sparkles and shines. Unlike me, you may view the condition of the car you drive as an important reflection of your identity.
Neither of these two people is “right” or “wrong,” but having a car is very different for both people. It really depends upon each of our sets of values and priorities, and what we each want out of life.
Gawain explains that we often “live life backwards,” first striving to have more resources (e.g., money) so that we can do what’s important to us, which will then finally enable us to be happier. This leads, for example, to individuals working extra hard their whole lives at “just good enough” jobs to save for retirement, only to discover that they’ve never really found fulfillment.
A key to lasting happiness appears to be the exact opposite – if we make efforts to discover and be who we truly are, we’ll develop the foundation to do what’s truly important to us, which will then enable us to have more of what we want in life.
In other words, we often engage in this pattern:
having –> doing –> being
When this would make us much more fulfilled:
being –> doing –> having
You may already be familiar with alternate versions of this framework, as a Google search on “being doing having” yields thousands of pages. The phrase has been popularized by speakers and writers including Zig Ziglar and Dave Ellis.
The concept also aligns with a key assumption of a popular counseling model, Reality Therapy/Choice Theory, that may be applied to life coaching: we often attempt to fulfill our most fundamental needs in roundabout and ineffective ways.
The more we’re aligned, the more directly we can pursue what’s most important to us. That’s pretty exciting stuff.
If you’re interested in developing strategies and tools specifically related to having, also check out More Than a Sidewalk to Sleep On (gratitude and wealth) and The Snuggle Party Guidebook (conscious relating and connection). These take some of the concepts covered in Naked Idealism to a deeper level, based upon some life-changing experiences.