“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” Thich Nhat Hanh
There was a long period of my life – from the age of approximately 25-37 – that I lovingly now refer to as the “Next, Next, Next Period” of my life. I was constantly striving and filling my life: the next job, the next promotion, the next big project, the next dinner party, the next new decorative piece for my home, the next vacation…you get my point.
The real problem with that is that when we’re always focused on the next thing or something in the future, we’re never really living in the moment.
This meant that I wasn’t present for the most important people in my life, nor was I present for myself and my own needs.
- So, although I might be saying, “uh-huh” and sound like I’m listening to you, I’m really multi-tasking on at least 2 other things I need to get done.
- And although I might be physically present in that meeting, I’m busy checking emails demonstrating to you that what you’re saying isn’t important.
- You see, I didn’t really just enjoy a lazy Sunday on a beautiful day because after all, I have a list a mile long of things I have to get done.
I now believe that our presence is the greatest gift that we can give to someone – including ourselves – because it demonstrates to that person that we hear them, we see them and that they really matter to us.
- So, the next time your child wants to play another game of Connect Four or Candy Land, play.
- The next time your husband wants to turn off the TV and sit down across from each other during dinner to catch up on each other’s days, do it.
- The next meeting where your mind starts to wander and your knee-jerk reaction is to pick up your phone and check your emails, stop yourself.
- The next time you begin thinking about how great that next job or that next sale you make might feel, stop to notice the blessing you have in front of you and show up for that.
One of my mentors, Gayle Larsen told me that her most beautiful gift was her ability to be present for others and for herself. Everybody just wants to be seen and know that they matter.
What does the gift of presence look like for you?