Do Nothing, Have Nothing, Be Nothing – Part 3

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll already have learned the perils of “doing something” and “having something” in parts 1 and 2.

You’ll also know that I’m not a big fan of how our culture tries to force people to follow an agenda that only causes stress and unhappiness.

Now, let’s take a look at the concept of “Be Someone” and why you’ll be a lot happier if you aim to “Be Nothing”.

Huh? What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Nigel?

Ok, let me explain before you start thinking I’m a bit bonkers.

You’re Not Special Unless…You Match This List of 234 Requirements

People are restless. We’re an agitated, unhealthy bunch. Mentally, we’re all over the place. Scattered, directionless.

One of the reasons  we’re like this is because we’re expected to become “special”, to achieve something big, expected to acquire (and show the world, dammit!).

Society has an endless list of demands for you and you’ll never be able to keep up with that ever-increasing list of 234…no, wait. 238…no…245 requirements. Ok, let’s call it 312 requirements, just to be on the safe side.

And the requirements are changing all the time too.

There is subtle pressure for us to constantly have to prove ourselves. We try to show that we’re wealthy, successful and like we can attract on-demand attention from the opposite sex.

We’re a nation of “try-hards”. Always striving, always with an agenda in every interaction. Be someone. Get somewhere in life. Get recognized.

All Identities Are False

Hippie. Skater. Doctor. Sports addict. An amazing chef. The best lover. Broken. Witty and charming. A depressed, unemployed loser.

These are all cultural identities. Just concepts in the mind. We cling to them. They create “us” vs “them” positions and “I’m better than you”.

“Be Someone” is Baked Right Into Our Language

Even our language is structured to propagate these lies. For example, “I am depressed”. Notice that we use the verb “to be” to talk about a feeling, state or condition.

I am. This is who I am. This is my identity. A depressed person. A loser. A sad, pathetic joke. I am this.

Check out this healthier (and more accurate) mindset and usage of language:

“I am depressed” vs “I’m currently experiencing transient feelings of low energy, shame and hopelessness.” (Subject to change. Impermanent. Not who I am. Not my identity.)

When we try to “be someone”, we are trying to prove our superiority, our specialness and our importance.

“Being someone” causes division, makes us act in unfriendly, antagonistic ways and reduces our compassion. “I’m a high-earning achiever who gets what they want in life”. (and you’re unsuccessful, in comparison to me. That’s ok though. I need people like you to make me look good.)

Attachment to “being someone” causes immense suffering for us. Think of the pro tennis player who used to dominate his matches while competing internationally, until he blew out his knee and can no longer play. Then he became depressed, started over-eating and began to be an angry and difficult person to be around.

People often come apart at the seams when they’re no longer “being” the role that feeds their ego.

Here’s another example: How about the investor who loses a large portion of their money on a bad investment and turns to drugs or alcohol to cope with their downgraded status in life? This is another of the many examples of how “being someone” will get you into trouble.

Throw Society’s To-Do List in the Garbage

Be Nothing

In simplicity, there is elegance. In being nothing, we can be everything.

The solution to all this madness is to be nothing.

In “being nothing”, you have unlimited potential and open possibility. You’re not locked in to one type of persona, one modality.

You’re accepting yourself, you’re not striving to become something different. If you never become rich, outwardly successful, or famous, you’re completely ok with that.

How to Be Nothing

Recognize that you can enjoy different roles in life and you don’t have to be locked into just one. You can be a musician, a business person, a parent, a mentor.

And you’re also none of those things.

Sometimes you’re chill, other times you hustle. But you’re not a slacker nor a go-getter. You temporarily use those roles only as required by a situation.

You pick up the spoon and when you’re finished using it, you put it down again. And so it is with your roles and personas.

Be a Simple Being

If you really want to “be someone”, try being a simple being: giving, flexible and content with little.

Or just be nothing. So that you can be everything.


This concludes our series. These articles are a bit unusual for this site but they contain big-impact mindsets and are definitely worth considering.

How does “Do Nothing, Have Nothing and Be Nothing” fit in with reaching our goals? Aren’t I going against the whole purpose of this site? Not exactly.

We can still go for our goals. We can still have to-do lists, plans and projects. But we should do it in a skilful way that promotes our physical and mental health. The philosophy of “Do Nothing, Have Nothing and Be Nothing” does exactly that.

How has the pressure of “being someone” affected you? In what ways do you try to assert your specialness, importance or superiority? Leave a comment below or email me and I’ll reply to you personally.

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Photo: Dasha Herman

About the Author

I'm Nigel and I'm the accountability guru and productivity mastermind.   I offer online accountability coaching to help my clients reach their goals faster and support them every step of the way.   Check out the Online Coaching page to find out how this accountability system will help you reach your business, career, financial, health and personal goals.

  • Anndraya Blayer says:

    Great blog Nigel! VERY INSPIRING WORDS.

    The thing to do is exist and let this existence take care of you.
    I say “I” thinking it is my name when really it is Self’s name.
    I say “I” and point to my heart, but it is really the Heart of Self.
    HELL, I’M IT!
    It is just be-ing, without anything added to it.

    • Nigel Cook says:

      Thanks Anndraya…nice to hear your thoughts and I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I think you summed things up nicely. “Be-ing” without anything extra added. That’s what causes problems for us. Thanks for taking the time to write a comment and hope to see you around on this blog again. : )

  • Matthew Pearl says:

    Yeah, and think about the possibilities for the world if people simply put their energy towards truly attaining to happiness without the condition of a limited self to get in the way.

    • Nigel Cook says:

      For sure, Matt. The self certainly gets in the way of a lot of things. Yes, without the self, there would be limitless possibility and we’d be a whole lot happier.

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