If you live on the East coast, you may have been like me and spent the weekend surviving Snow Storm Jonas. You may have looked at the weather forecast and thought, “Nah. They are never right when calling for a big coastal storm. It will just skip right on by us.” Wishful thinking. We received approximately 35 inches in my area of Maryland. Work was disrupted by hours and hours of shoveling that never seemed to end. However, I did find a learning opportunity through my hours of shoveling and being snowbound. Whatever life throws your way, whether it be in work or in life, one of the best things you can do is be present.
What does it mean to be present? Does it require saying a lot of Oms, while sitting cross legged on the floor? Not at all. Being present means raising an awareness of where you are in the here and now. It requires intentional analysis of where your thoughts and emotions are. Are you focusing on the issue at hand, or are you focusing on the million other tasks that are awaiting you, or the issues that have been hurtful in the past? During the storm, I recognized that I was not staying present in the moment. I was frustrated at being snowed in because I wanted to be able to get out if I needed to (Future). I was frustrated that I could not talk to the people I needed to talk to about a meeting later in the week (Future). I was frustrated that there was a conflict I couldn’t immediately work it out (Past). What was I doing? I was focusing on the what ifs, rather than focusing on the moment.
By focusing on the moment, we can stop and enjoy the world around us. We can focus on the beauty of a falling snowflake, or the joy in relationships with the people around us. When things are tough, we focus on the worst of it, and start to make up stories in our heads about what may happen or did happen that made the situation worse. However, by being present, we are grounding ourselves to face the world as it is right now. Sometimes the world has the beauty of a winter landscape. Other times, we may need to ground ourselves as the winds of conflict are blowing hard in our direction. Being present allows us to center ourselves, evaluate where we are (head space-analysis or thinking, heart space- authentic feeling, or action space), and follow the best course of action for that particular moment, for that particular interaction.
Being present allows us to bring out the best in ourselves, as well as our colleagues. It allows us to be grateful for the relationships that we have, whether it is the relationships we have with our co-workers, or the relationship we have with a neighbor, helping someone dig out while dancing around to music on the radio. We have the power to be present and bring out the best in ourselves as well as our communities, workplaces, and families.
Be present. Find the joy in life. Center yourselves to ride out the storms when they come, because being present through the storms allows you to be present for the joy, innovation, and peace that follow.