Mindlessness and the Human Doing

Mindfulness in Action:

The Path from “Human Doing” to “Human Being”

In a world where multitasking is often celebrated as a skill, the art of mindfulness invites us to engage differently with our tasks and ourselves. Mindfulness, a term that has roots in ancient practices and has been crystallized in modern therapeutic contexts, offers a profound shift from being a “human doing” to a “human being.” This distinction is not merely linguistic; it is a fundamental reorientation of how we interact with our world.

The Paradigm of “Human Doing”

Are you a human doing?

Let’s explore the concept of “human doing,” a state many of us find ourselves in — often unconsciously. It is characterized by an incessant drive to go-go-go, do it, grind, hustle, perform, contribute, and produce. In this mode, our identity and self-worth are frequently tied to our productivity and achievements. The “human doing” is caught in a cycle of perpetual motion, rarely pausing to reflect or savor the moment.

The “human doing” is also synonymous with multitasking—a common practice in our fast-paced society. Multitasking, while sometimes necessary, often leads to divided attention, where tasks may be completed, but rarely with full awareness or optimal quality. This scattered approach can generate stress, reduce efficiency, and even impede our cognitive functions.

Embracing “Human Being” through Mindfulness

Are you a human being?

Embracing our “human being” entails slowing down and paying attention. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged with whatever we are doing at the moment without judgment and with an open heart. It is a commitment to experiencing the present rather than “doing” our way through it.

When we apply mindfulness to task completion, we give our full attention to one task at a time. This focused attention is not a passive state; it is an active process of observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise, acknowledging them, and returning to the task at hand. This single-tasking approach has numerous benefits, including:

  • Enhanced Performance: By concentrating on one task, we bring a higher quality of awareness and precision to our work.
  • Reduced Stress: Mindful task completion allows for a more relaxed state of working, as opposed to the frenetic energy of multitasking.
  • Increased Enjoyment: Immersion in the present task can transform mundane activities into more pleasurable experiences.

Integration of “What” and “How” Skills in Mindfulness

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a therapeutic approach that incorporates mindfulness as a core component, the “what” and “how” skills offer a framework for practicing mindfulness in daily activities. The “what” skills involve observing, describing, and participating, while the “how” skills focus on doing these things non-judgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively.

  • Observing: Noticing the internal and external experiences without reacting or judging them.
  • Describing: Putting words to the observed experiences without over-identifying with them.
  • Participating: Engaging fully with the current activity, letting go of self-consciousness.

These skills, when applied to tasks, enhance our ability to perform with presence and awareness, aligning with the single-tasking principle of mindfulness.

The Concept of “Wise Mind” in DBT

The “wise mind” is a DBT concept that represents a synthesis of reasonable thought and emotional experience. It is the deep inner knowledge that emerges when we are mindful and in tune with both our logical and emotional selves. In the context of task completion, the “wise mind” allows us to approach our work with a balance of focus and intuition, leading to decisions and actions that feel inherently right.

In practice, accessing our “wise mind” can mean taking a brief pause before beginning a task to center ourselves, or it can involve stepping back when we notice our mind wandering to gently guide our attention back without self-criticism.


The transition from “human doing” to “human being” is not about doing less; it’s about being more—more present, more engaged, and more connected with each moment and task. By incorporating mindfulness into our task completion, using the “what” and “how” skills of DBT, and tapping into our “wise mind,” we open ourselves to a more fulfilling and balanced way of living and working.

Mindfulness, therefore, is not just a therapeutic tool; it’s a way of life. It’s about finding depth in our daily activities and transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. As we journey from doing to being, we discover that each moment holds infinite potential for awareness, growth, and peace.