What Does It Mean to Be Human?

I’m only human.

  • I need shelter when I’m cold.
  • I get hungry every few hours.
  • I need to rest unconsciously every single night.

I’m just human.

  • I misspell words.
  • I say things wrong.
  • I leak anger instead of grace when I’m upset.

I am human.

  • I create art.
  • I cry with a friend.
  • I overflow with awe in the presence of Love.

What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be human?

To even ask the question is a sign of humanity. To think of answers, to communicate those answers, and to imagine answers yet unknown are also parts of being human.

Understanding what it means to be human is more than an intellectual pursuit. It is a also a physical practice. And it is a spiritual discipline.

Living human is a remarkable achievement.

This year I choose to explore what it means to be HUMAN, my One Word for 2023. To accept its limitations and its liberations. To appreciate its complications and its comforts.

In body and mind and soul.

I’ll alternate monthly practices for body, mind, and soul through each of the four seasons. I’m creating a list of 23 concrete things I want to accomplish in 2023 around being HUMAN.

There are certain things only humans can do. Making this plan and writing these thoughts and reading this post are some of them.

As my fellow human being, I thank you for your presence alongside me on this journey in space and time. We are human together.

Community is critical as we learn to live wisely and to love well as humans.

To be human—in this year, on this planet, in this skin—is a rare gift.

I don’t want to waste it.


For January, my focus is on the human body. I am committing to connecting with my body through “Yoga with Adriene.” Each January, Adriene leads a 30-day practice on Youtube to build strength and live more grounded in our bodies. Her theme this year is Center.

Have you chosen one word or made any resolutions for 2023? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Sign up here to get a monthly email reminder to practice your own One Word.

Sign up for One Word 2023

22 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Be Human?

  1. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Lisa, congratulations on finding your word, and admittedly, it was a surprise to hear it! Human beings do love surprises! 🙂 I think what comes to mind for me is knowing we are not animals, that we are created by our Maker in His image, and therefore, we humans, while certainly NOT divine, do possess God’s attributes–we emote, we feel, we think, we discern. These are all some of His attributes. And we have Jesus, truly God, truly man, as our model. And yes, we are limited. That is a really good thing to know. AND that He empathizes with our humanity, our frailty, our weakness. BUT being the perfect Human, He gives us a model that by His grace we can emulate. I’m not being clear here, but I really love your word, and can’t wait to see where God takes you w/ it.

    I’m still feeling led to FINISH. it is discouraging frankly, but God is the God of second (and million!) chances.

    Happy New Year, dear friend.
    xo
    Lynn

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I think you ARE being clear here, Lynn. I appreciate all you said. You get me. 🙂 I’m thankful that we are humans in this same time and space.

      I hope the discouragement will fade away as you continue with Finish. I think it’s a very brave choice on your part and I admire you for it! Happy New Year to you, too, and I pray that 2023 will bring you answers and recovery from your health issues, friend.

      1. Lynn D. Morrrissey

        Thank you so much for this encouragement, and I’m glad that I was *humanly* making sense! 🙂 Also, as I read your encouragement over my health, admittedly, it is hard to accept that our (my) human bodies break down (and not knowing why–humans, including doctors, don’t know everything about human bodies). I think of Ps. 139 and how mysteriously and wonderfully human beings are made by their Creator. It helps to know we humans have been created and by One who does understand us and promises to help. Another thought I just had is when you mentioned there are certain things only humans can do. A line of your contemplation might be to consider all we lose when machines replace humans (which of course humans in their intelligence design). I think of telephone operators, receptionists, even from my childhood elevator operators, just to name a few. When we replace humans with machines, humans lose jobs, and their customers lose interaction. AND which of us humans want to be dumped into electronic oblivion?! I am soooo frustrated to be confronted w/ myriad (and endless) phone options only to be met by more when I finally press an option (often the wrong option) and have to start all over. OR my option of concern is not even listed. Whatever happened to a real human just answering the phone and also your question or connecting you to the right source?! Ah, food, for thought by your lovely human brain, Lisa.
        xo
        Lynn

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          Thanks for the additional ideas for my word, Lynn! You win the most helpful award in our One Word group. I see you often encouraging people and offering suggestions. We appreciate you!

          And you just triggered a thought for me about another blog post I can write on being human. I spent HOURS the past few weeks trying to talk to a human at the cable company. It was so frustrating. I’ll make myself a note about putting the story together…

  2. David

    Excellent! 🚀 My WotY is CELEBRATE and I certainly celebrate your choice! 🍿

    Rambling and deleting so I’ll stop here. ❤️❤️

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ah, our words are combining already. 🙂 I love how that happens. As I was working up my plan this weekend for Human, Celebrate actually did come up a few times. I’ll look forward to how our words play out as the year goes on.

  3. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    So beautiful Lisa, I will enjoy following your journey this year! I didn’t choose a word, but my resolution is to stay more in touch with my actual feelings and not instantly cover them up with thoughts or wishes that are not real. I want to be more in touch with my humanity, too.

  4. Stacey Pardoe

    I love this word, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your heart here! Instead of picking a word this year, I’m picking a Name of God as my word. I’m going with “My Strength.” He is our strength in our humanness 🙂 Blessings to you this new year, sweet friend!

  5. Jean Wise

    I love this as your word for the year. very powerful yet open to new insights. May it bless you all year through. Hows the yoga going? I signed up for this too but haven’t really started it yet.

  6. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, I love your new word and can’t wait to see where it takes you this year. The 30-day yoga practice sounds intriguing … I might need to find something like that to help me build upper body strength. Also still need to make time to write about my new word … that’s on the agenda for tomorrow. 🙂

  7. Lynn D. Morrrissey

    Lisa, I don’t recall earlier seeing the image you used here, which reminds me of how some humans hate other humans, simply because they have different features or skin tones or dress differently. So part of being human is to realize there are many humans who make up the globe. When we remember *their* HUMANITY, and the human experiences we all share (happiness & suffering, etc), then we behave as compassionate human beings. It’s our ability to DEHUMANIZE others w/ vicious labels which allows us to violate them (like human children in the womb, human immigrants seeking asylum, human beings from Asia (where they are attacked and blamed for coronavirus outbreaks), human beings who are gunned down (and where other human beings will not try to curb their “rights”) etc.– more food for thought for your human consumption. 🙂
    xo
    L

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Natasha, our words are very connected! Kindness is the grace that keeps humans connected to each other. I’ll look forward to the points of intersection of our words as the year goes on.

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