If only it were that simple. It sounds so easy, just being “present” yet our minds don’t seem to want to cooperate. Our thoughts will create disturbances or cravings that keep us from peace. Often these are in direct contrast to what our goal or vision is for our life. Most of us have difficulty listening without thinking and are always trying to figure out the past or the future. We love to hypothesize. However, if we want to feel energized and joyful, learning how to be more conscious, more present, must be a priority.
So what does being present mean? If you have read Power of Now by Eckardt Toole you probably have an idealistic understanding that can be difficult to achieve. Being present to him is being without thought. Although I love his teachings my brain won’t empty completely especially when I am alone. I also have a hard time being an active listener because I am a born strategist.
I define being present as listening intentionally, enjoying quiet time where we don’t think about the past or future, and praying or getting lost in something you love. It is when time flies and stands still all at the same time. It also can mean just “being” rather than “doing.” Even with this definition it doesn’t happen often. We are so productive and impatient we don’t take a moment to just breathe and allow things to unfold. We think we need to always be doing something to achieve happiness or success.
In Spite Of…
Our minds produce between 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day. Thought production is completely out of our control. We don’t even know where half of these thoughts come from and many of them are confusing. There are times we call on our brains to think critically about something but the majority of the time it is doing its own thing. If you think back to all you thought about yesterday you will see that so many of our thoughts were just plain random. So then how can we learn to be more present?
We must choose an “in spite of” mindset and say “in spite of” the endless chatter my brain creates I will remain at peace. “In spite of” the overwhelming tasks or goals I have I will schedule time in solitude. I also suggest just “being” wherever you are. If you are with your family don’t think about work, if you are at work don’t think about problems at home. Learn to prepare yourself more and be intentional when you enter into a situation. Silence your phone and commit to only being in that place or with that person. Being present for people we love is the best gift we can give them. They know it when we aren’t and will feel the distance. If things are too overwhelming, I will actually tell people I am not as present as I would like to be so they know I am struggling.
Leaders are Present
With the technology advancements and fast paced world we live in being present is so rare. It is never recognized as an amazing attribute. You never describe a fearless leader or successful person as present. They are given props for being driven, successful, financially stable, disciplined, or motivated. Yet if you really got to the heart of why most people choose or admire leaders it is their attentiveness when they are with others. It is how they make people feel. Sure, there are companies or countries littered with egotistical and not present leaders but the ones that truly have a positive impact are present.
Being present must be a top driving value for us, especially if we are achievers. If we can’t enjoy the present moment than what are we working so hard for? Once you choose to add this to your growth plan and start researching it you will find a ton of books, retreats or ideas to become more present. Yoga has worked best for me but I also find when I walk in nature my brain naturally quiets down. I do schedule my hour of solitude every morning to ensure that no matter what happens I have some moments of peace and clarity. This also allows me to be filled with positivity and remind myself how worrying will only steal my joy. If you are facing uncertainty with your career, relationship, or anything else make a conscious effort to accept life happens for you instead of to you. You have to get to a place that you are 100% trusting that even difficult times will create long term opportunities for you.
As you focus on becoming more present, you will find what works best for you but for now just remind yourself to be wherever you are. Once you make a decision to prioritize this in your life, you will notice more signs that this is the right path for you. Your overthinking won’t go away but at least you will be more in tune with trying to be present. You will become aware of your Little Voice and all its distractions. Your Big Voice will continuously learn how to overpower anything that pulls you away from your goals and purpose. Enjoy your presence today!