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.

The traffic.

Holiday music.

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 pausing.

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.


Ignore distractions.

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.


Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, and busy dad of seven. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People - sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Instantly Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone) You can also purchase his book Self-Love: How to Love Yourself Unconditionally


  1. My kids taught me these lessons when they were young. When they asked for something, I would try to complete whatever I was working on which only increased the stress level for both of us and they didn’t feel special. I learned to drop whatever I was doing, look them in the eyes with love and ask them what they needed. Then do that thing for them. It would only take a minute and everyone felt better.

    • I love that Paige. I’ve found the same thing. I have to stop whatever I’m doing, especially if I’m on my computer, just to make sure people are getting my full attention. They deserve nothing less. 🙂 . And as you say, everyone feels better for it. 🙂

  2. Great reminders here which are especially needed for the holiday season when things can get so hectic. I especially like the idea of single-tasking. Our brains do so much better when we focus on one thing at a time. I appreciate your suggestions, Cylon.

    • It’s always good to remember or find ways to keep our balance Cathy. I appreciated Cylon’s advice also. 🙂

  3. Love these ideas, especially the first one – to practice presence for myself. It’s a great place to start and then begin to do the same for others.

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