“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing leaves, the cool crisp mornings that ease into brilliantly warm afternoons, and all the coziness that comes with this season.
What I don’t particularly love about this time of year is the busyness of it all. It feels like there is so much that gets crammed in to the fall season – the normal school routines, extra work events and commitments, conferences galore, planning for the holidays, not to mention the onset of cold and flu season. This week alone I’ve had half the week dedicated to client events with late late nights, squeezed in time with out of town friends, managed construction projects at the house, hosted family dinner, spent a day sick in bed, and went apple picking with my nephews. Phew. Even writing that all I’m exhausted.
One of my key tenets in being optimistic in relationships is loving without holding back. To love with no agenda, no expectation, no ego. And yet when you come home late at night from an exhausting day at work and the house is a mess and your to do list is a mile long and you’re feeling under the weather, it feels challenging to be gracious and loving. In those moments of feeling stretched thin or pressed for time, this is when our critical and cranky sides tend to come out more.
In this season of busyness, and a desire to love those in my life more fully and without holding back, I’m focusing on the one thing that helps me to be more loving and compassionate – being fully present.
My stress in relationships so often stems from not being fully in the moment – when I’m still thinking about something that didn’t go the way I wanted earlier in the day, or when I’m stressing about work, or when the to do list is piling up and threatening to overtake me – in these moments I find myself being short or demanding or lacking the right type of communication. Which is understandable, because I’m allowing myself to be in different places mentally and physically and emotionally. But when I am intentional about being fully present in the moment, engaged with the person I’m sharing the moment with, it becomes easier to love without holding anything back. When we are no longer held back by our lack of presence, it’s easy to love without holding back.
So how can we be more present, especially in a season that is all about constant demands on our attention? Here are a few of the things I’ve been trying to do more of:
- Asking more specific questions about how the people in my life are experiencing the present moment. So often we ask someone how their day is going, or what’s happening at work. I’m trying to shift these questions to find out “what are you feeling in this moment? What is exciting you right now? What is weighing on you right now, while we’re talking?”
- Looking at my screens less. I hate the addiction I have with my phone, and while it is often my lifeline to those I love the most, it’s also what keeps me from being fully in the moment. So I’m taking more opportunities to set it aside. At night I’ve moved the phone out of my bedroom so I don’t default to looking at it first thing in the morning. I’ve set timers to block my use of it during meetings. And I’ve started leaving it at home when I go for a walk or out to coffee with a friend.
Click to tweet: How can we be more present, especially in a season that is all about constant demands on our attention?
- Trying to slow down and multi task less. When I’m at dinner, not also be chatting about the to do list for the next day but be fully present while making dinner (which is pure meditation for me) and enjoying dinner with loved ones.
What are you doing these days to be more present? Is there anything you’d like to try in order to show up more fully, where you are, and for the people you are with? We’d love to hear, so e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Facebook or Instagram!
Elizabeth & the Davine Team