top of page

Be Present

"The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental health.”

Abraham Maslow

There have been a few times recently where my wife and I have “gotten our signals crossed” as we like to refer to miscommunication or misunderstanding. We still have contractors coming to our new house we built and moved into in December and every day we ask each other “who’s coming today?” to make sure we know if there will be any disruptions like having the power turned off for a bit or loud noise we have to contend with. Normally we coordinate our schedules quite well but a few times recently I’ve not realized there was something planned when my wife has insisted she communicated this to me.

Ordinarily I would doubt that I made a scheduling mistake but when I ask my wife a question and she replies “I just told you that already” I find it truly mind boggling that I could have missed something she said to me only five minutes before. It’s at those times that I realize I’ve failed to be present which is something that our modern world makes ever more challenging for each of us to do.

Being present also reminds me of a funny thing that happened years ago when my son Kevin was only about ten years old. He came home from school and asked me if I ever have had someone talking to me and then realized I didn’t hear what they had been saying. He said there was a girl who had started sitting beside him at lunch time in the school cafeteria and he said “she talks for a REALLY long time and sometimes after she’s talked and talked and talked and then she asks me a question, I get nervous because I realize I didn’t hear anything she was saying.” I laughed and told him that might be a challenge he will face in the future if he’s not careful to really listen, especially when it seems like girls can have much more to say than guys.

I realize that likely sounds like sexist advice I gave my son but there are studies which have proven that men and women really do talk quite differently where men are more cognitive in discussion while women are more emotional. We literally speak from different parts of our brains quite often and just like how sometimes our own brains don’t always connect on things well between the cognitive and emotional hemispheres, sometimes men and women miss what each other are saying in the same way, like the proverbial “two ships passing in the night.”

Being present is a state of mind where you focus your attention on the present moment, without worrying about the past or the future. It is a mindfulness practice that has numerous psychological benefits. In today's fast-paced world, people are always in a hurry to get things done, and this leaves them stressed, anxious, and unhappy. However, by learning how to be present, people can reduce stress, improve their mental health, and live happier lives.

One of the primary psychological benefits of being present is that it helps to reduce stress. When people are present, they are not worried about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Instead, they focus on what is happening at the moment. This helps to reduce the stress that comes with worrying about the unknown or the uncontrollable. Being present helps people to live in the present moment and take control of their lives, which can be very empowering.

Being present also helps to improve mental health. When people are present, they are more aware of their thoughts and emotions. They are better able to manage their negative thoughts and emotions, which can be a major contributor to mental health problems. Being present allows people to be more in tune with their bodies and minds, and they can recognize when something is wrong and take action to fix it.

Being present helps people to build stronger relationships. When people are present, they are better able to connect with others. They listen more attentively, understand their feelings and thoughts, and respond more effectively. Being present helps people to build stronger relationships with their family, friends, and colleagues, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

Research has demonstrated that being present can help people to live happier lives. By focusing on the present moment, people can appreciate the small things in life and find joy in everyday activities. They are not constantly looking for the next big thing or worrying about what they do not have. Being present allows people to live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest.

Someone who I believe gave the best example of being present was the late Fred Rogers of children’s television fame. Fred said that he always gave his complete and undivided attention to anyone he was faced with. He considered a true joy to get to meet someone for the first time or to get to speak with someone he had met before. Fred realized how those moments of human connection are truly special in life and they only happen a finite number of times as we live our lives in a busy world. A wonderful article about his view on attention can be read here.

So my challenge to you this week is to work on being truly present with anyone you interact with. Don’t look at your phone while you’re engaged with others, don’t multi-task at work if you’re supposed to be paying attention to someone, stop and truly listen to your spouse, a coworker, or a friend, partner, or family member when you see them – especially if it is the first or last time of the day you’re encountering them.

9 views0 comments
bottom of page