Be in the present. It’s an overused phrase because it’s a recurring problem in most of our lives. We are distracted by our busy brains, overscheduled schedules, emails, and smartphones. Everyone knows living in the present is the ideal for optimal happiness, appreciation, and results, but few are consistently there, myself included.
Being in the present means you’re aware of the details around you, which allows you to find opportunities, help others and generally just enjoy life more. Sounds perfect. So HOW does one consistently live in the present?
Recognizing its value is one thing, doing it is another – and this is why I think Santa stuffed my stocking this Christmas with a book by former pastor Rob Bell, titled ‘How To Be Here.’
I just finished the book this weekend, and it was an enlightening, easy read. Bell is a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, former pastor, and sharp cookie. What triggered me to put this book at the top of my reading list was the fact my favorite quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, endorsed it by stating the book, “Inspired me to live life with deeper appreciation and to love people with a greater awareness of our connectivity.”
Three Takeaways from Rob Bell’s “How To Be Here”
Being relaxed produces your best results: A busy mind makes it impossible for one to relax, thus causing underachievement – in your relationships, work, physical fitness, you name it.
Think about it for a second…
When was the last time you produced exceptional quality work or had a memorable time when your mind was racing? A busy mind kills enjoyment. A relaxed mind helps you thrive in your current environment and innovate.
I struggle to relax while working because I’m what you might call a ‘checklist person.’ A day isn’t a win unless I’m checking off tasks. This mindset, however, can cause me to rush so I can check off the next thing. I’m thinking about the next ‘to do’ while working on the current task. This is a problem I’m going to work on. Productivity should not be measured by the number of things done, but rather by the quality of what was done.
Some things you just do for you – results be damned: Rob Bell is a writer. He’s written many books, but there was a time when he avoided writing, even though he enjoyed it. For months he would find anything else to do but write. He procrastinated having to produce a big project because the results were delayed. It takes years in some cases to complete a book.
But he realized that it was critical for his mental well-being to just write. No pressure, just write with the desire to help others. Could be a sentence, a page, a chapter – didn’t matter. Every day he would write because at the end of it he would feel better. He wouldn’t write to get it done and accomplish, he wrote because it was good for him – good for his soul! Which is probably why he has become such a successful author…
You can tell in his writing that he enjoys sharing his thoughts, and feels it his duty to get things out there and off his chest.
Frequently pull out the fine china: I love this one. In the book, Rob writes about making a wedding gift list with his then fiance. All you married people know what that is: The list you make for your wedding guests, prior to the big day, of things you need or want, so they know what to get you.
Rob talks about the fine china plates he and his wife received for their wedding, and how for many years they would rarely pull them out for use, only doing so when they had guests. But after his accident (more on this shortly) he realized how taking out the fine china just because it was a Saturday made him appreciate it, and his life. The act of using the fancy plates reminded him how he and his family were special.
Rob Bell’s Philosophy on Living in the Present
Early in his pastoral days, Rob’s schedule was crazy – sounded like early morning to late night type of work schedule – counseling, fundraising, organizing sermons etc. So what brought Rob into the ‘present’?
He was a task-focused, accomplishment driven guy who measured his success as a pastor by how much he got done in a day, every day; until one incident when he was wakeboarding, routinely falling down and banging his head against the water. He didn’t think anything of it at the time, and just wanted to get up and wakeboard… anyone who has tried the sport knows how badly you just want to get up on the board and move – it can be a frustrating ordeal.
But after one too many falls he got back into the boat. He wasn’t feeling good. His friend who was driving the boat talked to him and recognized Rob wasn’t coherent. They raced him to the hospital. He had a brutal concussion, so severe he initially didn’t recognize his family…
Rob writes about one moment in his living room during recovery when he sat in amazement watching the dust particles in the sunlight, something most of us would see and be triggered to clean and dust our house. He just stared in fascination, amazed by the little details we all overlook – or sometimes look at as a chore. That appreciation for the littlest of things eventually grew to his family, house, job and overall life. He couldn’t believe how awesome his life was. And after fully recovering, he never lost that mindset, which has helped him consistently be in the present and develop tactics for others to do the same. Hence his book ‘How To Be Here.’
PS – Like you, I’m a results-oriented person. And I love sharing new ideas to help produce your best self. Subscribe to my newsletter below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.