Do you look back at this past weekend with your children or significant other and wish you were more present? Do you reflect on last week's challenge and how it was handled poorly thus you now sit with regret? Recently left a project at work feeling like a failure who buckled under pressure: pressure from others, pressure from yourself? Have you processed that argument you had with the school bully in grade school and play it over in your head time and time again with that perfect "comeback" that was never executed? Are you like me in that you have recalled the challenges and hurdles in life thinking... "goodness, I could have done that differently. I would have done that differently if I was not so caught up with __________." Are you a people pleaser? Are you self conscious? Are you anxious? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, (congratulations!!!) you are completely normal. If you relate to any of the aforementioned scenarios, then welcome to the club. This is most of us.
"Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret... [however], we can achieve "presence," the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves... we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives." Above are the thoughts of Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor and author of the New York Times Bestselling book entitled PRESENCE: Bringing your Boldest self to your biggest challenges.
Recently I shared reasons for making a significant professional transition by way of resigning from my job as a school leader, a position of leadership that is valued and honored. Again, at a place of feeling much gratitude and honor, I have interacted with hundreds of individuals who have reached out to me on social media, via text, through email, over coffee, etc. I am finding many friends, relatives, and even strangers want to know more about my recent life choice. More will be shared in the coming weeks and months.
For now, I aim to be present. Present for family. Present for a part-time investment in a local non-profit serving the homeless called The Cookery. Present as a dad. Present as a husband. Present on a bike ride with my children. Present as I mow my lawn. Present as I continue to prepare for the next chapter in my life, my career, my time with my family. Present as a friend. Present as a confidant. Present with personal spending and the family budget. Present grabbing a meal with a friend. Present sipping on coffee and enjoying conversation. Just present.
It may be viewed as somewhat of a kitsch cliche, however the following quote has always resonated with me despite my feeble attempts to mock it and make fun: "Yesterday is the past and tomorrow is the future but today is a gift from God and that is why we call it the present." Like most of life, there is truth that can be found in the silly phrases and trite quotes we stumble upon. Gratitude for the gift of life is something special. There is no guarantee of our next breath much less next week or next year. It is a better investment of time to live in the present and focus energy on the current challenge, the blessing of today, the gift of now, and the joy of the moment. Anxieties of tomorrow need to be pushed aside. Regrets of yesterday need to be confronted. Joy and fulfillment is found in each ordinary moment we face. The ordinary moments of life are what make extraordinary memories and in the end, extraordinary lives.
Sit. Sip. Breathe. Laugh. Smile. Serve. Hug. Reflect. Pause. Whatever you do... make the most of this ordinary moment. If you do, it is destined to be extraordinary.