By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager
Think back to your first day of school every year. The teacher would call your name and you would raise your hand and say, “here.” You waited impatiently to hear your name called. Hand ready to shoot up. You were on that special list. Being “here” was comforting. You belonged. Our whole life is based on being “here.” So I ask you this…is being “here” the same as being present? It’s something to think about as you go through your day.
Let me explain… let’s go back to that classroom. The teacher calls your name- you say you are “here” and that’s it. All twenty kids are here. Mission accomplished. However, did you notice that not all of those kids were present. Not everyone was prepared to learn, work hard and behave. Being “here” is not the same as being present. Being present brings on a responsibility to do the most you can with the time spent. Trust me I know this because I was that kid that was “here” but not present in high school, especially in my senior year. I was “here” but not present in most everything I did as I navigated the fine line of thinking I was a rebel, while not completely messing up my life. So what snapped me out of my self-destructive path? The threat of expulsion followed by the punishment of being put into a junior homeroom until I could prove I was prepared to learn, work hard and behave! I was forced to be present if I wanted to graduate with my peers. It was a life lesson. And yes, I did graduate.
How do you spend your time at work? Are you present and doing the most you can with the time spent or are you wishing the clock would speed up and the end of the day would magically appear? I’m here to tell you it won’t. Being present and prepared makes the day go by a whole lot faster and there is nothing more rewarding than an accomplished task! Making a list is a great way to stay present.
Being present is so much more powerful than just showing up. I see people rushing into the gym or the fitness center. “I made it.” Then they proceed to talk and complain and get multiple drinks of water at the fountain to avoid what they rushed in to do. I have a friend who wanted to start a weekly walking goal. Day one she shows up in flip-flops. Are you kidding me? I already know our walk downtown is about to turn into a window shopping-let’s grab a coffee-event and not the exercise she supposedly was seeking. But she’s “here” – “she made it.” She was completely unprepared and not ready to work. I can assure you her goal will not be met! Being present reaps rewards; showing up does not always.
Being present during conversation can be difficult. We sometimes daydream or form our response without fully listening. Have you ever spent a few minutes explaining something to someone and they are okaying and yessing you to death only to have them ask two days later how to do the same task you just showed them? If you have children, you are familiar with this one. People can easily disengage and still be “here.” Being present means being engaged. Listening is being present.
Last, but not least, are you present when you are eating. This is one area that I struggle with. My oldest son can take up to 20 minutes to make a darn sandwich. He lays out the roll, the meat, the lettuce and tomato and the condiments. It’s like he’s on a date with this sandwich. I used to roll my eyes as I slapped my own sandwich together and ate it before he had the top bun in place. He is truly present in every step of the process. He totally enjoys his creation. He eats slowly while I eat like a cave woman. I know he’s right. I know I need to learn to stay present when I am eating. It’s far healthier and shows gratitude for the earth’s bounty! I’m working on it!
Just for fun, pick one area of your life and try staying present and see if you find there are tangible rewards. If you do – raise your hand and let me know! I’ll mark you present!