“There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” – Leo Tolstoy
It has been said that today is a present, yet how often do you actually feel present? Being present means fully enjoying the moment you are in. You are calm, clear-headed and more focused on what you want than the distractions around you. When you are in this state, life is more real.
Being present means living in the moment, being aware of your feelings and experiences without harsh reactions or judgment. Being present allows you to slow things down and connect rather than go through the motions without understanding why you are behaving a certain way.
Have you ever been with someone and felt totally alone?
Have you ever been alone and felt totally disconnected? Have you ever been with young people only to find they think being on their devices is more appealing than having a meaningful conversation?
For me, practicing being still is a gift; that’s why it’s called “being present”. There are times I forget this way too easily because my day gets really busy and hectic. When I get tired or overwhelmed or both, being present is the last thing I want to do.
Yet those are the exact times when I need to practice being present the most. You see, being present is about being still and calming what’s happening inside me. It’s about letting go of the things that overwhelm me, putting down the devices, focusing on those around me, loving the ones I care for the most. Yes, being present is a gift I give myself and those I connect with.
Being present is scary for many people because it means you have to be still and look inside.
According to Amy Cuddy, Harvard business school professor and researcher, when you are truly present, you are essentially telling those around you, “I am here; I care about you. I am listening, and what I am telling you to do is not just based on my own personal opinion, but what I am observing and hearing from you.” I have been trying to figure out how to explain being present the past few weeks, and I think that is a pretty powerful statement.
With all that is going on in the world around us, living in the moment – being present – has never been more important to your overall well-being. Research shows that both success and happiness hinge on our ability to remain focused on the here and now – the present. That’s why today is call a present.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
There are two ways to be present; physically and mentally/emotionally connected.
In fact, I’m not sure you can truly be present without both components. Being present requires you to physically show up; that’s the easy part. The harder part is to make an emotional connection in the present by fully listening, being aware of your environment, understanding why you do what you do, and being engaged with those you are with.
Being present is an important part of your self-care journey. When you are present, you are physically, emotionally and mentally present, fully focused on the moment you are experiencing. Distractions are never-ending, but when you begin to be present with yourself for a few minutes each day, you can improve so many aspects of your life including relationships, productivity, creativity, meaningful interactions and experiences, and ultimately your life.
My self-care journey ebbs and flows just as yours does. There are days when I am completely present and days when I struggle. But what if I was to be present every single day? What if I was to focus on what’s happening today rather than worry about what might come tomorrow? What if I were to leave the past where it belongs – in the past – and focus on today?
“You cannot do what’s important now for you if your mind cannot accept what is happening in this present moment.” – John Kuypers
When your mind wanders to the past or the future, you are not being present.
Becoming aware of this state is an important step to being present. It sounds simple, but it is a process that you have to keep working on with consistency; that’s why it’s called a journey. Every day that you do better than the day before is forward progress.
While there are varied practices to help you be present each day, here are a few of my favorite ones:
- Breathe. Clear your mind and simply focus on the way you breathe in and out.
- Focus on what’s right in front of you. Use your senses to listen, see, feel what’s happening in front, around or on you. Do you hear what someone is saying to you? Do you see the colors? Do you feel the sunshine or the rain as it connects with your skin?
- Write a gratitude journal. Gratitude raises your vibration. Gratitude increases your positivity. Gratitude changes your attitude. Be grateful every day.
- Celebrate little joys. When something makes you happy, celebrate it! Whether it’s flowers blooming, running into a friend, working in the yard, sleeping in, or hugging a loved one, celebrate the little things in life just as much as you do milestones and achievements.
- Make mindfulness a daily practice. It doesn’t matter what you do as much as that you do it. The more you practice being present, the more you will be. Mindfulness takes patience, energy and time so be intentional about doing it daily.
- Listen to your body. Your body is a complex machine that is simple to take care of if you just listen.
- Feel your feelings. Your feelings are just that – your feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. Sit with them; feel them and simply observe them instead of trying to change them unless you want to, of course.
- Savor self-care rituals. Little things you do for self-care should be savoured and enjoyed. A soothing cup of tea in the afternoon can bring peace and calm to an otherwise hectic day.
- Find balance. Planning and routines can be important on any given day, but so is being flexible. Don’t be so stuck in your ways as to miss the opportunity to be present.
- Put down the devices. Electronic devices cause distractions and take us away from being present. Put them down and focus on the people you are with. Set “do not disturb” times and honor them.
Yes, being present takes energy, time and dedication. Being present is sometimes difficult yet it can be the most rewarding thing you do for your self-care journey. I’d love to hear how you practice being present in your daily life. Until next time, stay positive and be well…