Such a simple request yet it seems it often proves challenging to us amid a constant flow of distractions. Our attention often wanes immediately as we hear a chirp from our inbox, or our pockets vibrate as our phones go off. We are in a constant state of disruption and attention scarcity. While I’ve never been tested, I would not be surprised if I, and many millennials alike, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. How could I not be with all the stimuli around me? A colleague walking into my office to discuss the latest and greatest project may have been able to hold my attention for a few minutes at most before my mindset shifted to something else going on. Maybe it was the new email I’d just received. Maybe it was the new missed call or text message that I’ve yet to return. As humans living in a society where advances in technology have never been greater, we’ve become addicted to distraction and our ability to keep our focus in the present moment wanes more and more each day. As a result, our ability to make deep, meaningful connections suffers. In my case, I had no one to blame but myself.
Making a distinct commitment to focusing on “Presence Awareness” has personally helped me improve where I was once lacking. So has meditating. I start each morning off by meditating with an app on my phone called Headspace. It’s awesome. I meditate for a minimum of 5 minutes, but often do it for 15 minutes immediately after waking up. It sets the tone for the rest of my day. While I still consider myself a rookie when it comes to meditating, I can definitely say I am already seeing the benefits that it’s having on my mind. I’m more focused, less stressed and I can zone in on when my mind starts to wonder and whip it back to where it needs to be. I find that through consistency and practice I’m able to be present in the mind. I’m able to slow down, sometimes even quiet, the speed of my thoughts. I can often eliminate distraction. My instructor on the app, Andy, constantly reminds me that it’s OK for my mind to wander. What’s important is that I realize when it does so and bring my attention to the present when I notice it.
Andy’s mild reminders help me to let go of what is out of my control and put distractions away so that I can get the most out of my time in the present. I leave my sessions feeling focused. Being present.
Through my travels around the world and working with many organizations, I’ve found that regardless of culture, being present is a sign of respect and validation. It is one of the most important traits to develop long lasting relationships. If you want success in business or on a personal level, you have to be present. A great way to practice being present is to make an effort to do so next time you’re with friends or family during holidays or larger gatherings. There are so many benefits in the moments and memories we create during these times if you’re actually able to receive them.
There’s nothing wrong when arriving at inflection points to stress over what has already happened which leads us to obsess over the future. But believe me when I say that it’s better to be present.
Learn from your past. Make plans for the future. Live in the moments. You are here. You are present.