The Secret to Better Performance, Relationships and Well-Being
Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC
Presence or paying attention is absolutely critical to high performance, strong relationships and overall happiness. Although it’s very simple in concept, it’s very difficult in practice. This is because as human beings, we are constantly thinking. We think about what we are going to do next, our opinions about what we see and hear, regrets about the past, worries about the future, etc. rather than giving our full attention to what’s right in front of us at this very moment.
Recently, I watched Eckhart Tolle’s 10-episode program with Oprah Winfrey called “A New Earth” based on his book by the same title. The main premise of his book and this program is putting into practice conscious awareness or presence in our daily lives. The only time we can experience anything or take any action is NOW. We can’t do something yesterday or tomorrow, we can only do it in the present moment. When today is over, it becomes yesterday and when tomorrow gets here, it becomes NOW. Therefore, our only point of power is NOW. When we trade the present moment for something that’s over or not here yet, we miss out on fully experiencing life, and we give up our power.
Eckhart says that we can begin to be more present by consciously noticing what we are experiencing through our five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. (Thinking is not one of them.) We can also become more aware of what we are thinking about and remind ourselves that these are just thoughts. We do not need to be preoccupied with our opinions, worries, regrets, or to-do lists. It’s not what’s happening NOW that creates negative emotions, but rather our thoughts about it.
Here are 10 tips for cultivating presence from the book Bring Out the Best in Every Employee by Don Brown and Bill Hawkins:
- Breathe one count in, two counts out. Focus on your breathing instead of your thoughts.
- Audit your continuous partial attention (CPA). What are your distractors that cause your mind to wander?
- Dedicate time and attention to those you are with. Declare that you are trying to be more present with others.
- Disconnect from technology. Designate technology-free zones and technology-free times.
- Narrow the scope of your intentions. Focus on one thing at a time with your full attention instead of trying to multi-task.
- Notice the impact you have. Noticing is paying attention. Pay attention to your ability to be present with others.
- Reboot your RAM. Go for a short walk, get a cup of tea, take a few deep breaths – whatever it takes for you to reboot and focus again.
- Substitute a new route or routine. Changing any habit can heighten awareness, and that’s halfway to being present. Routines dull our awareness. Change your route, your breakfast, or your customary dress code.
- Silence the auditory interruptions. Your auditory interrupters may be the television at home, the radio in the car, the sound of the engines on the airliner. Take steps to find a short, quiet respite from the noise.
- Condition your physical being. Rest, diet, and exercise play more of a part in your ability to effectively interact with others than you might imagine. The less we care for ourselves, the less we are able to care for others.
NOW is the only time we have. May we all experience life more fully with heightened awareness and presence for better performance, relationships and well-being. May we use the power of NOW to make each moment count.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
“The power of Now is none other than the power of your presence, your consciousness liberated from thought forms.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Give attention to the present; give attention to your behavior, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears, and desires as they occur in the present.” – Eckhart Tolle