Being Present, Presently

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about being present in the moment.  Like many people in this age of devices and social media, it’s easy to get distracted.  Or, maybe, I want to be distracted.  When facing a challenging task, it’s too easy to pick up the phone to see the latest cute kitty post on Facebook and put off the work.  Many studies are showing that we get “high” on dopamine when we interact on social media.  I think of it like eating a piece of candy – easy to grab, feels good while you are doing it, but it doesn’t give you the fuel that you really need.

I had a sweet visit with my 3 year old granddaughter, Zoë, this week.  She asked me to go into her playroom and play with her, but what she really wanted was for me to sit beside her while she played – just to be present next to her while she was in her own make-believe world with her dolls.  It wasn’t easy to settle in.  I was itching to grab my phone, since she didn’t seem to need my interaction.  But she wanted to feel my presence, focused on her and what she was doing.  So I hunkered down and sat on the floor next to her and was there for her.  The gift of being present.

My husband and I love to entertain.  I also set up events for various groups.  In both of those scenarios, there are the inevitable “no shows” – those who accept the invitation, but neglect to attend.  As the host, I find this frustrating and rude.  A lot of preparation goes into an event.  I am not sure why people do this, but my theory is that something comes up or they just don’t feel like coming at the last minute and they think their presence won’t be missed.  But they are missed.  Their presence was to be a gift – and they have yanked it away.

When I was growing up, we had a family friend we called Aunt Fran, who had the most amazing ability to be present.  When she was around it felt like she had all the time in the world for you.  She wasn’t rushing around to the next task.  She could just  be in the moment – or in the afternoon, or in the day.

Part of my business is coaching – coaching leaders, executives, entrepreneurs.  Coaching is the ultimate “be present” activity.  I cannot be thinking about myself, the time, or my next appointment.  A good coach needs to be totally in the moment with their clients – listening, curious, and asking the right questions.  As a coach, I don’t need to know the solutions to the challenges being discussed.  The client knows the answers.  I just need to ask the right questions, until they realize they knew it all along.

Fred Rogers said: “If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that what’s important.”

Being present in the moment.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get there.  But as I learned from Zoë, Aunt Fran, and Mr. Rogers, I can do it. Presently.