Honestly I miss the days of passing notes to my friends in between classes, spending hours on the phone talking about everything and nothing, and sharing copies of the photos you had developed the night before. These days it’s all about text messages, Facebook updates, Instagram feeds and Snapchat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an avid user of social media and love the ability connect with old and new friends, but there’s something special about being in the presence of others that can’t be captured through the screen. Being present is truly a gift that keeps on giving. It’s no wonder our ancestors would spend hours sitting around a fire, or a pot of tea talking, laughing, and sharing stories. Not only does the physical presence of our friends deepen those relationships but it also improves our health, happiness, and well-being.
So in a day and age when we’re all so “busy” how do we cultivate presence in our relationships? You don’t have to look too far, the answer is right under your nose… Presence starts within. The reality is if you are craving more connection chances are so are your friends, but no ones wants to “bother” anyone so we continue talking through screens. As Gandhi once said “be the change you wish to see in the world”. If you become more present, those around you will become more present as well.
Step out of your comfort zone and try these 5 ways to cultivate more presence in your life with strangers and friends:
1. Put down the device
It sounds like I’m stating the obvious but being connected has become such habit that it takes effort to actually spend a day offline. It may be hard at first but spend one hour offline and be deeply present in a conversation with someone. Make eye contact, listen, and be all there.
2. Smile for no reason
Turn that frown upside down and smile. Smile at a stranger or simply smile for yourself. A smile can turn your day around and bring you back into the present moment. As an added bonus,” smiles attract other smiles.
3. Pick up the phone and call someone or even better meet them in real life (IRL)
Even though we are uber connected with texts, emails, status updates and tweets. When we’re on the phone talking, it forces us to be more present and engaged in the conversation (in person is even better). Hearing someone’s voice and expressing feelings and emotions through tone and touch creates a connection far deeper than 56 characters.
We can’t have a top 5 “be present” list without meditation. Spend some time alone with your thoughts and clear out the mental clutter by focusing on the breath. Being present for yourself helps you to be more present for others.
5. Be Grateful
There’s always more, different, and better but what you have right now is perfect as is. Being grateful for all that exists in your life now takes you out of the past and future and brings you to the present moment.
When you are present for yourself you gift presence to others around you. When others attune to your presence they too become present and just like that a ripple effect occurs.
As always don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself and report back. Post your gift of presence in comments…