Being Present — The Daily Practice of SEEING the People in Your Life
The world’s greatest resource is not its gold, silver, coffee or chocolate, despite what some people say. The world’s, or rather, OUR greatest resource is people. The people we’re joined to by family and romantic relationships. The ones we rub shoulders with at work. The people we meet from across the globe online. Even the countless people we don’t see, because we’re not being present, as we run daily errands.
Nothing has made this more apparent than the 6-foot-distancing COVID-19 mandate. Close contact means so much to us. Raise your hand if you’re missing hugs from friends and family or coffee dates with colleagues. I am! Without it, we’ve become stressed and depressed. Sadly some have even ended their lives in suicide, because they couldn’t handle it. Clearly, being self-aware of our need for social contact is only half of the equation to being happy.
The future of our planet requires a commitment to being present and truly seeing the people who cross our paths. Whether in business or social settings, the well-being of each person contributes to a sustainable and enjoyable life journey.
Through life’s turbulent storms, being present can help us form better decisions as we stay centered and grounded. We become more resilient and energized, as we react less and consciously respond more.
Of course, we can’t be present All. The. Time. However, we can learn to be more present and see others more clearly with our eyes and our hearts. To me, being present has two meanings:
- Being aware of feelings and sensations as things happen around me.
- Knowing how to face/lean in/act from a mindful and conscious way.
Being present requires a practice. Keeping our intention to be present in all circumstances slows down our knee-jerk reactions of fight, flight or freeze. Closely associated with being present is achieving flow. Flow, being in the zone, is the mental state of being immersed in an energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of an activity. It’s the ability to stay present during difficult situations and it requires conscious and consistent practice.
How to practice being present at work and in life…
- Learn about mindfulness. You will develop a higher level of awareness of self and others, when you hone your ability to observe and note everything, without judgment.
- Fine-tune your values and ethics so relationships are more important than things. You can change the culture of your home, community and workplace, by leading others with a clear mandate that people matter. Make being present a cultural value. Notice what’s being done or said and verbalize it back to people in a non-judgmental way. “I notice…it makes me feel…it makes Sue feel…it had this effect on the project…” You, in effect, become a mirror from which others can more clearly see how their actions affect others. By being fully present, you’re shining the light on the positive and the negative, so positive behavior can be encouraged until it becomes the standard.
- Kindly require that all people disengage from electronics, while present.. So many distractions are vying for our attention. Each human being deserves the respect of being seen and heard. Whether you’re running a board meeting or talking with your teen, being present means you all agree to dedicate your full attention to each other.
- Avoid damaging the well-being of people for the sake of expediency. When we’re in a hurry, it’s easy to be rude and thoughtless. If you start each communication with the intent of making the other person feel good, you’ll slow down and think about the words you type or say. Even more so, when someone speaks, we won’t quickly cut them off, because our own thoughts are uncontrollably bubbling out of our mouths. While keeping goals and tasks in mind, remember the individual who’s performing them. If they feel good about themselves, their product/service will positively reflect that confidence you express in them.
- Collect and share mindfulness resources. On my website, I recommend a number of books, teachers, and leaders that will help you increase your mindfulness muscle. My newsletter is another invaluable resource, because it always has tips on applying mindfulness in various aspects of life. For example, my April 2021 newsletter focused on how we can learn what our impulses are telling us.
- Keep your commitment to being present and mindful. Every-day challenges will make this a struggle, especially at first. Yet the more you practice it, the more it becomes your practice. I encourage you to journal about your mindfulness journey, because we tend to forget the thousands of little steps that have taken us forward.
In each sphere of activity, we all lead in some way. By being present whenever possible, we can be instrumental in shaping the future of our world. Don’t be afraid to lead yourself into being fully present and then leading others to that same life-changing place. As Stephen Levine points out…
“Clearly, all fear has an element of resistance and a leaning away from the moment. Its dynamic is not unlike that of strong desire except that fear leans backward into the last safe moment while desire leans forward toward the next possibility of satisfaction. Each lacks presence.”
It won’t matter what anyone else says, when you see how being present grounds you and engages an inner strength to withstand pressures in life. And more importantly, it clears your heart’s vision to see others and give them the dignity they deserve. If you’d like to explore how mindfulness is essential to embodying the life you envision, please, download my free report, 10 Steps to an Embodied Practice. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a coach, the principles can be applied to both your life and your business.