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At this time of the year, there are so many things out there to distract us from being present to our lives.
The shopping lists.
Black Friday-Cyber Monday-Giving Tuesday-Christmas ads.
And endless gatherings with people we don’t even enjoy and food we shouldn’t eat.
Just a few of these things can be soul-sucking.
But many of us experience all these things all at once. No wonder we end up feeling more irritable and stressed out by the time the holidays are over.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the holidays and all it’s supposed to represent. However, because we’ve chosen as a society to focus more on presents than on presence, we miss out on the true joy of the season. We miss out on the most important gift.
If you’re open to trying something new, try focussing instead of bringing more presence to the world. Because in a world full of distraction, we yearn for people who know how to give their full attention to us. We yearn to be seen, appreciated, and loved.
How to stay present
So, how exactly do you bring the gift of presence to others?
1. Learn to be present with yourself
By noticing your breath.
By noticing your thoughts.
By practicing a simple grounding technique like holding on to an object and focusing on it.
Set a recurring reminder on your device to pause and practice presence with yourself. Once you learn to be present and comfortable in your own skin, you will more easily be able to be present with other people.
2. Start single-tasking
Do one thing at a time.
Sounds so simple, yet during the holidays, our desire to get many things done causes our multitasking to go through the roof.
When you feel overwhelmed, just repeat the mantra “Do one thing at a time.”
When washing the dishes, wash the dishes.
When your child is trying to get your attention, put the phone on do not disturb.
Set a timer for two minutes and focus on a single task of your choice. Gradually increase the time till you can do ten minutes.
3. Let others bask in the glow of your attention
Once you’ve mastered the first two steps, you’re ready for this one. And here’s where the real magic can happen. Here’s where the most important gift can be given and received.
Engage in eye contact.
Be aware of your body language.
Express interest in what they are talking about.
Treat them like they are the most important person in the world. The Dalai Lama, one of the most famous people in the world, is known for this. I even got a first-hand account from someone who had the good fortune of meeting him.
What if we could do this for one another? I think the Dalai Lama would be the first to say that the ability to make others feel important is not unique to him.
In your interactions with others, make the intention to let them bask in the glow of your attention.
Your presence is the greatest, the most important gift you can give to yourself and to others this holiday season. It costs nothing and has the potential to radically transform your life.