What does it mean to be present? Why would you even want to be present?
You might think that the world is a dreadfully dull place.
You wouldn’t be alone. If you do, though, it means you’re not paying attention.
Watch a group of people in your city.
See the fire in the young professional’s eyes as he marches up the sidewalk like a man on a mission. Watch the hungry hustler prime his body language before entering a lobby.
Hear the laughter of the children playing games outside and see the love between a mother and her baby. These moments are snapshots of the human experience.
You can’t fully experience these things if you’re not present. You’re not really alive if you’re not experiencing life.
Maybe you’re a cold, callous person and you couldn’t care less about the human experience. If that’s you, I’m genuinely sorry for your loss.
Even then, there’s still reason for you to be present. The prime benefit is that you’re consciously aware of your OODA loop and you can leverage it when appropriate.
What exactly does “Present” mean?
Being present means that you are fully experiencing events “directly and in the first time” and not recollecting them or speculating about them.
Being present means you’re paying attention.
You don’t have to ask someone to repeat what they just said. You already heard it, whether you answered or not.
No one has to ask you, “Did you see that?” You already saw it.
My upbringing has given me two major advantages that help me be present.
I’ll tell you how you can create these advantages in your own life. Unlike most things in life, they’re quick and easy to implement.
These advantages are
- I didn’t use the internet for the first 23 years of my life.
- I didn’t have a smart phone for the first 25 years of my life.
GET OFF THE INTERNET
You might be someone who believes in multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is a phenomenal way to do many things at once and get nothing done.
It’s impossible to be present if you’re focused on what’s happening on a little screen. You can’t focus on everything at once. We have all become would-be multi-taskers thanks to easily available internet.
The internet, in and of itself, does nothing to prevent you from being present.
What prevents you from being present is your smart phone’s browser and apps, with social media being the biggest offender.
The Smart Phone and Presence
Smart phones, mobile data, and WiFi have made it possible to be connected 24/7. Most people now feel naked if they leave the house without their electronic safety blanket.
Every little app on your screen takes some of your finite focus. You might think this is fine as long as you’re learning something, but you’re wrong.
It’s true that you should be reading and learning every day, but you shouldn’t be reading so much that you can’t get anything done.
The purpose of reading and learning is doing.
If you spend more time reading than you spend doing, then you’re just wasting your time. You’re “learning” as an excuse to sit on your ass.
BECOME PRESENT AND START DOING
There are two ways to give yourself these advantages.
NUMBER ONE: BECOME A MODERN MONK
This is the best option, because it’s the most extreme. Moderate solutions aren’t as effective as extreme ones.
Deactivate your smart phone and get a flip phone. They still make them. All of your apps and time wasters will be gone.
This is an excellent way to force yourself to actually accomplish what you want in life. You eliminate most of your distractions.
If you can throw away your smart phone, shave your head, and stop eating manufactured foods, you’ll find there’s plenty of time and energy to do what needs to be done.
NUMBER TWO: MODERATE MOBILE DATA
If you’re not serious (many aren’t) then you won’t be satisfied with option number one. You want a more moderate solution.
Moderate solutions don’t work as well because they’re easy. They’re comfortable, and growth is painful.
The easy way to practice internet abstinence is to turn off your phone’s mobile data. This way, you’ll only be online when you have WiFi.
You’ll be able to use your smart phone’s apps and browser just fine when you’re home or at a coffee shop, but you’ll still be forced to be present everywhere else.
Whether you decide to be a modern monk and kick life’s ass or just moderate your mobile data use, you have to have self-determination.
Being a modern monk is hard, and it’s pretty easy to just reactivate your smart phone after a day without it. It’s even easier to turn your mobile data back on.
If you don’t have self-determination, you’re just wasting your time. You still have to make the decision to actually live life instead of worshiping a little screen.
What’s it going to be?
Are you going to live your life, or would you rather play with your phone?