Being present is a gift that you give to yourself and others. It helps you engage fully in your life, your opportunities, and your sphere of influence. Yet, there are moments when we are not fully present which can lead to feelings of regret, disappointment, and disillusionment.
To be fully present is to engage mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually in a given moment. I have seen many examples of people who were present physically but not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. They were there – but not really there – forcing people to question: Where are you?
What does not being present look like?
- Not giving our best effort in a practice or game
- Living under the cloud of a bad moment from the past that kills our purpose, steals our joy, and destroys our focus in current and future moments
- Not engaging emotionally with a family member who needs you to listen and empathize with them
- Not engaging our strengths and bringing our best talents to accomplish our goals
- Not recognizing and seizing opportunities
- Always looking to the future with envy and never being content in the present with gratefulness
- Not appreciating the roles we have been given in life and making the most of them thereby missing opportunities to influence, lead, and impact others
If you have ever experienced a feeling of not being present, it has probably led to feelings of regret, disappointment, and a debilitating sense of fear and pressure. You are aware that you are not being present but feel trapped by something in your past that is keeping you from moving forward. In my work with high school and college students, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and elite amateur and professional athletes, I have seen many forms of the struggle to be present. I have also witnessed the joy and impact when people are fully present and bring their best to a given moment!
Here is what I believe it means to be present in the moment in the 4 dimensions of your life:
- Physically – While we all know what it means to be in a place physically, I have seen a trap that some people fall into regarding this dimension of life. Just because your body is physically in a spot does not mean that you are fully present physically. I have seen basketball players go through a workout and compliantly execute the drills but lack the full commitment it takes to make the most of the practice. The key is to bring energy and effort to everything that you do instead of just going through the motions. Energy and effort are demonstrated through focused eyes, determined steps, and decisive actions that demonstrate faith, trust, and confidence in your stake and impact in the outcome of a given moment.
- Mentally – Being present mentally is focusing on the current moment and not getting distracted by past or future thoughts. Our minds think at a rate of 2-3 times the rate that someone can speak. This means that we can miss moments of connection with others, because we are not slowing down our minds to actively listen to what the other person is saying, doing, and feeling. We have to bring our minds into the moment if we want to be present. Sometimes, it is as simple as saying to ourselves: “Be still, listen, and engage in this moment.” Other times, it is considering what we can do to make a contribution to the moment. Every action begins with a thought, and we must focus on thinking about the importance of the moment we are in.
- Emotionally – It is very important to be connected to people and moments emotionally as well as mentally and physically. Being present emotionally connects passion and purpose. It bridges the gap between heart and head. It inspires us to make the most of the current moment and leverage the opportunity for impact. It also drives and inspires us when setbacks occur. Emotional connection allows others to sense and feel our presence, knowing we are there for them.
- Spiritually – For me, being present spiritually is all about recognizing that God has created me and ordained me for a purpose and plan. Because of that fact, I know that the more I connect my life and the moments within it to His calling in my life, the more joy and fulfillment I will discover and experience. This reality is true for you as well! This dimension of your life defines your Why, which relates to the purpose of your life. When you are fully present spiritually, you achieve and become the person you were created to be. My method of being present spiritually is to begin each day with a time of reflection, prayer, and reading a devotional or Bible verse. The way I begin my day helps to define it. My morning quiet time routine puts everything into its proper perspective, as I see God-ordained moments in the flow of my days and weeks and sense His presence and direction in those moments.
You can be fully present by:
- Bringing your best to practices, workouts, and games
- Serving your best (instead of leftovers) to those who mean the most
- Not being limited by regrets from your past and/or confined by fear of your future
- Putting down the phone and listening to others’ feelings
- Recognizing and serving the needs – both spoken and unspoken – of people within your sphere of influence
- Using your platform to make a positive impact
- Fully committing to your purpose and calling in life
- Seizing opportunities and doing the next right thing to advance the ball toward your goals
- Embracing and engaging fully in the roles you play in life
To be fully present, you need to ask yourself:
Am I fully present and engaged in every role that I play?
If the answer is no, think about how you can fully engage physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to make more of a positive impact with your life. You would hate to reach the end of your days knowing you could have been more present. You have one life, and others are counting on you to make the most of it while you have the opportunity. Grant them the gift of your presence, influence, and leadership. Be Present!