Denver, CO

Denver’s ‘doing culture’ wears some people out

David Heitz
Marten Bjork/Unsplash

People who post on online message boards such as Reddit and Quora sometimes say Denver has a “doing culture.” Other cities have a “being culture.”

Some say Denver’s doing culture is exhausting. But what are doing cultures and being cultures?

It all revolves around the goals we set for ourselves. “The basic strategy to achieve such goals involves something we call the ‘discrepancy monitor’: a process that continually monitors and evaluates our current situation against a model or standard—an idea of what is desired, required, expected, or feared,” according to

“Once this discrepancy monitor is switched on, it will find mismatches between how things are and how we think they should be. That is its job. Registering these mismatches motivates further attempts to reduce these discrepancies.

“But, crucially, dwelling on how things are not as we want them to be can, naturally enough, create further negative mood. In this way, our attempts to solve a ‘problem’ by endlessly thinking about it can keep us locked into the state of mind from which we are doing our best to escape.”

Denver’s population young, driven

Denver is an incredibly young town. Its median age is 34.5, according to census data.

Denver also is a wealthy town. Young professionals driven by their careers power Denver’s economic machine. Indeed, subscribers to doing cultures tend to be hard workers. Some may say they are workaholics.

Doing culture puts importance on work

“Doing culture emphasizes production, work, activity,” according to a post on a Sabanci University message board about doing and being cultures. “However, being culture emphasizes relationships, taking time out to talk and inquire about other people. Unlike being culture, time is very important for doing culture. Being culture people often are more relaxed and are not so concerned with solving problems.” also reports that being mode is not devoted to achieving goals. “In this mode, there is no need to emphasize discrepancy-based processing or constantly to monitor and evaluate (‘How am I doing in meeting my goals?’). Instead, the focus of the being mode is ‘accepting’ and ‘allowing’ what is, without any immediate pressure to change it.

“In being mode, there is a sense of freedom and freshness as experience unfolds in new ways. We can be responsive to the richness and complexity of the unique patterns that each moment presents.”

Southerners subscribe to being culture

In one post in a Denver chat room, a Denver transplant from the South said the differences between how people view things here versus there are striking. People in the South are genuinely concerned with how friends and acquaintances are doing. They don’t mind talking about their feelings.

But many people go into doing mode to avoid dealing with emotions that may surface in being mode. “When, in the driven–doing mode, the goal is to be rid of certain emotional states, these habits can backfire and lead to perpetuation rather than cessation of unwanted mind states,” reports.

In other words, some say Denver needs to loosen up and enjoy the moment. It’s quite a departure from stereotypes that paint Denver as a kick-back stoner town with legal marijuana.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

Denver, CO

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