“You may be surprised that happiness lurks in the moment, not in your mind.”
On Being Present
This was originally written for my Substack. I wrote this piece with love and care for all of us. Because all of us lapse in our presence.
Of the many takeaways from my podcasts, is the human need to be seen and heard. It is fundamental to our well being. I’d recommend the Nick Adkins’ podcast for a remarkable story about being truly present and the changes it can make in all our lives. You don’t have to start a global movement (as Nick inadvertently did). You just have to show the discipline to be present in your everyday life.
Here is the piece from my Substack.
The Value of Simple (Or Not So Simple) Presence
How often are we truly present? Do we even try?
It was December and the heater in my house decided to die. Getting a repair man and fixing the issue (a faulty control board) was going to take days.
That evening I met two “friends” at a sushi restaurant for dinner. I might have preferred a hot meal, but there was always miso soup.
At the start of the dinner, I shared my dilemma with my heating system. I explained I was a little nervous about just leaving the gas fireplace on in my absence, but it was my only source of heat on a cold winter’s eve. I mentioned the difficulty of getting anyone to come and service the heater.
Without being tedious, I went into the story in enough detail that they had to be aware of my predicament. Neither offered me a place to sleep or shower. I was stunned, to say the least.
Fast forward, and I alluded to my saga of not having heat to one of the “friends” at the dinner that night. She said she didn’t hear me.
She didn’t hear me.
She doesn’t even see the implications of her own words. She doesn’t hear because she isn’t present. She’s so caught up in her mind that the world goes by without her noticing.
This is a good person. She’s not evil or terribly self centered. She’s extremely religious and would define herself by her strong Christian values. She simply isn’t present.
Not to cast any aspirations on any religion, but what good are these principals one claims to live by if you don’t practice what you preach? Practice implies presence. Yoohoo! Is anyone home?
How different our world might be if we simply showed up for ourselves, and for each other? Could we all just practice a bit of presence?
I just interviewed Thane Lawrie, author of The Buddhist CEO. Great conversation! Among many other things, we talked about the intense awareness that his practice brings to many tasks. Awareness of a simple carrot being peeled for dinner, its journey from seed to table and back. Awareness of breath. Awareness of lack of awareness.
This made me take a look at my own presence in my own life. I think I’m fairly good, one on one, connecting with people. With being there. I make a conscious effort most of the time.
And in that vein, my goal is to put more effort into conscious presence, today and everyday. Emptying the dishwasher; pecking at the keyboard; the incredible bliss of simply walking. Yes, I do get waylaid by thought. But I try to bring myself back. I know that I only have this moment, and the next, and in that stream I have the opportunity to create my life and relationships. And I want to LIVE not just exist. That means showing up, being present.
Give it a go this week. Make it a point to be present. You may be surprised that happiness lurks in the moment, not in your mind.
Is being present the key to happiness?