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Why it's taken me so long to "be present," and how you can do it TODAY

Sep 16, 2019

I've lived near Charlottesville, VA for 8 plus years, and haven't visited any of the major attractions - historical sites abound (3 President’s homes), natural wonders are a quick drive away (Blue Ridge Parkway), and I’ve done none of it. I live here, but I’ve not LIVED here. There’s always been something temporary about my circumstances, and I haven't committed to just being here.  My mom always said “bloom where you’re planted,” but that didn’t always sit well with me. There have been plenty of “pots and flower beds” I haven’t cared for!  

However, if we live in the past (full of regret or shame), or live in the future (constantly thinking things will be better after the next raise, the next 5 pounds, the next project completion or the next election), we aren’t living now. Today. 

That was me. Bouncing back and forth between the past and the future. 

I was consumed with either what should have been or what could be, and I’ve missed out on riches right in front of me - friends, family, colleagues - and I felt isolated. Isolation limits our vision, and hope goes out the window.

But - when we’re experiencing each moment as it happens, we set the stage for being captivated by the wonder all around us. Things like people, beauty, kindness, thoughtfulness of a friend - all the blessings otherwise taken for granted.

How do you fix that? 

Well, as I continue to learn how to live in “today,” here are some things I’m working on. Some are easy, and some really get me out of my comfort zone… 

  1. Embrace Wonder -  Let yourself be captivated by the everyday miracles right in front of you. The petals of a flower, the smile of a child, the way musical notes work together to make a lovely melody.
  2. Celebrate Beauty -  We find what we look for.  Look for the beauty in nature, people, and each situation. You will find you see everything just a little differently.
  3. Tap into your “Inner Child” - Be willing to see things fresh and new, like you did as a child - before you were jaded or cynical.  The movie “Elf” comes to mind here…
  4. Get Curious - Curiosity is an indicator that we want to grow.  Start asking the “five W’s.” What makes others tick? How do things work? This will get you invested immediately.
  5. Cultivate Generosity -  Adopting an abundance mindset prevents us from thinking resources are limited, and we don’t protect or horde. This is how we are meant to live - abundantly. 
  6. Hold Resources Loosely -  We learned it in Kindergarten - share. Live below your means, freeing up funds to provide for the needs of others or worthy causes that move your soul.  Make space in your schedule for interruptions that provide opportunities to help others. 
  7. Deepen Relationships -  People are more important than things - always. Embrace new relationships, nurture seasoned ones, and facilitate connection with others.
  8. Give Away Your Expertise -  Skills, wisdom and life experience are not protected commodities.You may have earned them, but they are yours to use in service of others.Take stock of what you have and figure out where you can contribute.   
  9. Practice Kindness - This is simple - put others’ needs ahead of your own.  When we decide to show kindness to others - just stop and consider their situation, their perspective - we are reminded how alike we are, and we are able to be more open. Sometimes it really is better to be kind than right.
  10. Feel all the Feels -  Our emotions tell us what’s happening, in real time. Don’t run from them.  Use the information to better relate to those around you, understand your circumstances and yourself.  This is the ultimate expression of being present.
  11. Put the Kibosh on Judging - Every person is created in the image of God, worthy of kindness, grace and respect. As Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  A little humility goes a long way, here. 
  12. Reach out to the Disenfranchised - Open your heart and your hands to those on the fringes. Meeting people where they are, allowing them to be seen, builds them up and encourages community.

Being present allows us to live and celebrate today for all it’s worth, generously sharing our gifts with others, creating a kind and open community where we can all grow - that’s Intentionally Optimistic.

Which ones push you out of your comfort zone?  

Comment below, or head over to my Facebook page and let me know. 

Together, we can laugh at the days to come!!

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