You’re busy juggling email, meetings and trying to get on top of things. There’s little downtime to think things through and make decisions. You want to be present in every conversation – you know it’s important – but sometimes you know you’re not present and know you should be.
I was ticketed for $67 for jaywalking on George St in Sydney recently. Yep, jaywalking. I was “not happy Jan” but I could see the funny side, because I’d just come out of a client session focusing on ‘being present’. I was reflecting on the session, looking down (completely in my head), seeing no cars coming my way, crossed the road knowing two people crossed ahead of me, all of us clearly not seeing the two policemen waiting to ticket each of us as we crossed. Talk about not being present. Later on that day, I made a joke out of it to someone, who was not present as I was sharing it, and which simply added to the question I then asked – “What would our world be like if we were consistently present to each other and what’s around us?” What would our relationships be like?
6 reasons to become more present
1. Be more productive: Focus on the matter at hand, apply your best thinking and what is there to learn. You’ll achieve more over time and make better decisions. And if it’s a meeting or conversation that’s wasting your time – learn to say no in the first place.
2. Be authentic: You can only be connected to others, have fun, and enjoy the moment if you’re present in it. In doing so, you’ll bring your authentic and whole self. .
3. Show people you care: People know when you’re not present and as a result, they’ll make up their own meanings about it (eg: I’m not important and I’m not worth your time). When you listen actively, people feel valued and will repay the gift tenfold.
4. Increase your social skills: Only when you’re present, can you notice someone’s body language, tone, pitch, facial expressions, and the social cues that are non-verbal.
Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, says in a face-to-face interaction with just one person you can exchange up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than one minute.
By picking up on these social cues, you’ll read what’s between the lines and have greater impact and influence.
5. Less stress: When you’re present to others, you’re more likely to be calm and centred. When you’re more present to you, you’ll be able to recharge, relax, and get ready for what’s ahead.
6. Less overthinking and overanalysing: The more time you spend in your head, chances are the more time you’ll spend thinking about things unproductively. 85% of what we worry about never happens, and the 15% we manage surprisingly well. Overthinking is a habit you can break by being more present.
How to become present
The easiest way to become present is to firstly notice when you’re not, and ask yourself to focus on what’s around you through your senses – what you’re hearing, seeing and feeling right now (in your order of preference). Then take a deep breath and start to actively listen.
By recognising when you’re not present, and holding yourself to a higher standard, you’ll learn to become more present and reap the benefits of connecting in to you and others. After all, we only have one life – how much of it do you want to spend in your head?