Three Insights on Being PresentAug 09, 2022
It doesn't come as a surprise that the most downloaded episode of my podcast is entitled: “The Importance of Being Present.” Episode #6 from September, 2020.
I’m not sure how we, as a society, have gotten so far away from being able to actually BE present, but I’m sure it has something to do with all the instant connectedness we find in the internet, social media and cellular technology. What’s interesting to me, though, is that I start that episode off with the revelation that one year prior (so, September of 2019), I wrote a blog post entitled “Why it’s taken me so long to be present, and how you can do it TODAY.” How presumptuous!
Now, two years down the road (and 99 podcast episodes later) I'm still shaking my head.
Personal Growth y’all - it’s a very revealing process!
Don’t get me wrong, Episode 6 is a great overview of the second tenet of Intentional Optimism, Present… but it’s just that. It’s theoretical, almost - which is, quite frankly, where I still was back then.
August is one of the months I focus on the tenet Present. You see, there are Six Tenets in Intentional Optimism, which lends itself quite well, to focusing one a month, rotating through them twice a year. (Yes, I love a good system.) I realized a few months ago that I have a few new tips that are helping me better assimilate this concept, principle and practice into my daily life.
Of course, a year from now, you should probably expect yet ANOTHER iteration, right?! Patterns, folks, they’re everywhere!
Before I dive in - if you do want a good, theoretical overview of the tenet of Present, check out Episode #6 and give that a listen - that was September 2020 - it’s only 17 minutes long. That episode and the blog post will give you some good tips and a fairly decent idea of what I think it means to Be Present.
Ok… so two years later... Now what?
I have three, simple yet slightly provocative observations from the last 3 years of working on this particular tenet - both for myself and in the world around me.
First - Everyone’s PRESENT is unique.
Now, you may think - well, duh… but it's true! You can’t just toss out a “one-size-fits-all-how-to" on being present and expect it to work for everyone.
Of course, there are general, overarching principles, but the more I learn about myself, and others, especially through DISC and the Enneagram… the more I realize that what being present looks like, is truly unique to the individual. Which falls right in line with the way I view each person.
For instance, for an extrovert it’s going to look quite different from that of an introvert. It’s very different for me, in my life stage, family circumstance, job situation, enneagram 6 world than my friends who are 8’s and 9’s with very different life and career, or my family in very different life stages from me.
Second - Without CURIOSITY, you’ll never get “there.”
I think this is one of the biggest GAPs I’ve noticed in the American psyche over the last 3 years. A complete and utter lack of curiosity.
Here’s a statement straight out of that first blog post:
“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.”
And I was/am totally right.
However, we’re so saturated with change, and few have the capacity to ask who, what, when, where, and why any longer. But curiosity is literally what makes us celebrate puppies, kittens, otters and small children. To think that so many of us have landed in a place where all the answers have been gathered, and you’re either IN or you’re OUT saddens me.
You cannot be truly present - in an understanding, calming or enlightening way - if you don’t want to know anything new. It’s like climbing into a tornado shelter and not coming out. The food in there will only last so long.
Third - If being “present” doesn’t produce KINDNESS in you, then you’re doing it wrong.
When you truly experience Presence - the kind that helps you take a good, deep breath, close your eyes and relax your shoulders… or the kind that allows you to open your eyes and unexpectedly see the calm amidst the storm… or the kind that quiets your anxious heart and mind while questions hang over your head… so that you can BE in the moment. You become totally available to the people, in the circumstances and for yourself.
THAT kind of presence will inevitably create an open space that you cannot help but invite others INTO. Who wouldn’t want to feel that kind of peace, calm, quiet. Even in the midst of some really hard stuff - like we’ve ALL experienced over the last three years.
Openness is a stance that prohibits being in either the offensive or defensive posture. It’s welcoming and warm. It’s kind.
I’m not saying that people tell me they are being present, and yet are still being unkind… what I’m getting at is there may not be an awareness that being Present is what is necessary to get to a place where you CAN be kind - in any circumstance.
Alright… In light of these three insights, what do we DO?
Well, I do NOT presume to have all the answers - too curious for that! But this is what I’m learning and discovering about being present.
Since Everyone’s Present is Unique - Don't Assume - Anything:
While we should, and do, want to help each other better experience being present, a prescriptive “you need to do A,” or “perhaps a little less B,” might not be helpful. I don’t mean to be preachy here, but there are literally millions of ways presence can be expressed or experienced, and allowing for each individual to find what works for them is important.
That said - you need to do some of your own work to figure out what it will look like for you.
Don’t hold yourself to the standard that your favorite guru has put out there. If you’re willing to cut yourself some slack, exercise a little grace - you can glean what works from various resources, and land in a place where you, too, can “find center.” That place in the middle that feels like home.
When you do, you’ll know it. I think the most important thing to remember, though… is that it’s a practice.
It’s not something you sit down on the floor or in a comfy chair and just “do.” It’s part of personal growth - learning and understanding who you are, what makes you tick, and where you are in your life circumstances will give you some really good clues. The better you know yourself - the more self-aware you are - the more likely you are to find that present peace.
Awrite, everybody’s PRESENT is unique, including yours - so don’t assume a one-size-fits-all approach.
Curiosity - is a total necessity:
As soon as you stop asking questions, it’s time to go.
Yep, I really do believe it’s THAT important.
As far as I’m concerned, Curiosity is proof of life. Being curious about anything you don’t like or understand (either inside you or outside of you), removes emotion from the equation and allows for real and reasonable investigation.
Is that too high level? How about when you come up against something you don’t like, simply ask yourself “WHY?” and wait for the answer.
When you close yourself off from good old fashioned investigation… you might as well be done. It’s a big deal in my book. Of course, there’s a TON out there that I think we all need to be a whole lot more curious about, and if we were, I think the temperature of our social and political spheres would go down considerably.
However I’m gonna stick with personal growth, and remind you that no matter how long you’ve been on this planet, there’s always something new to learn about the “amazing YOU.”
When you’re worried about what’s coming down the pike - ask why.
When you’re angry over things you KNOW are small potatoes - go looking for what’s really bothering you.
Get curious about YOU. What makes YOU tick.
- Where did you get those ideas, beliefs, values?
- Why do you hold onto them?
- Do you need to change your mind on certain things (I know, GASP, clasp the pearls!).
But seriously - YOU are the most fascinating creature on this planet, and you should darn well want to understand how to BE in a way that gives you peace, quiet and calm.
Get CURIOUS about YOU.
Look for Kindness:
Just like breathing produces CO2, kindness is a byproduct of presence.
When you are practicing being present - however it looks for you - you will be more open and expansive. You will no longer have your fists clenched by your side, or across your chest, and will have your hands available for service. Even if it’s in service of your own care.
When you are practicing presence, your anxiety will be lower, allowing you to lower your shields and listen to others - who have their own worries, and cares.
When you are practicing presence, you’ll have less need to fiercely protect your space because you’ll be ready to welcome others into that open, calm and quiet place. When we find something amazing, we always want to share… presence is no different.
Here’s the bottom line for me:
The more I am Present, the more ME I am.
The more ME I am, the more Present I can be for everyone else.
Gosh, that sounds a bit like Winnie the Pooh, but it’s true.
Personal growth is a journey that requires change - it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re willing, it’s the most rewarding trek you’ll ever take.
I’ve been at it for years, and feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. The more I learn, the more excited I get for the adventure.
If you’re interested, we can walk it together. No need to buck the status quo on your own.
Nothing you discover will make you bad or good… it’s what you do with that information that matters.
My books are open, I have group and 1:1 spots available.
Let’s get curious about our own unique beauty together.
Until next time!
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To listen to the podcast episode that inspired this article: Three Insights On Being Present
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