Sunday, September 12, 2010

Being Present

We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it. ~John Newton

In an age where multi-tasking is admired and encouraged, few people even know how to live in the moment. It takes no rocket scientist to determine that this is probably the reason most are so wigged out.

We’ve all heard the quote from John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I could take it a step further and say, “Life is what happens while you are doing other things.”

We consider it to be more productive to be “doing” all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with doing. But in order to be truly effective, “doing” needs to be balanced out with “being.”

How often do we enter a conversation with our friends or family, and not recall what they said, because we are busy planning our next move? It is impossible to truly spend quality time with people if your mind is not engaged. This most definitely affects our relationships.

The Zen Habits website list some benefits of being in the moment:

• Increased enjoyment. I find that I enjoy life more if I’m present rather than having my mind elsewhere. Food tastes better, I have more fun with my family, even work becomes more enjoyable.

• Reduced stress. Worrying about the past and future gives you stress. But being present is almost like meditation. There are no worries. There is just experiencing.

• Better relationships. When you really commit yourself to being with someone, to listening to them, you are being a better father, husband, friend, daughter, girlfriend. You have better conversations. You bond.

• Get things done. I find that focusing on what I’m doing, rather than trying to multitask or multithink a million different things at once, I actually complete what I’m doing, do a better job on it, and get it done faster. I don’t necessarily do more, but I get things done. Focus tends to get things done, in my experience, and when your focus is split among a lot of things, it is less powerful.

I’ve never been a good multi-tasker. I hear others say that it is the same for them. But we do it anyway to try to get things done. I know for me, if I can focus on doing individual tasks correctly and thoroughly, it will improve my overall performance, as well as enjoyment with the tasks.

Being present is a win/win situation for everyone involved.



  1. thanks, adam. i actually learned a lot about being present from you. you spoke of it often in yoga class....b