The Power of Being Present — Stoic Stillness
‘Be where your feet are’
How can we really be more calm and in the present?
It can be a challenge to live in the ‘now’. We live in a world full of ‘things’. Moving cars, moving social media feeds, moving ambitions. It’s hard to plant your feet and be present in exactly what is happening right now, especially when everything is moving at such a pace.
But we know, when we slow down we feel better. Feeling the breeze wash over you on a totally boring Tuesday. Sipping a hot coffee, basking in it’s rich aroma on a plain Wednesday morning. The small things often get overlooked. They’re not sexy, they don’t wow people, they are too plain and too simple to care about. But they are often the source of the best pleasures this world has to offer.
We spend our lives overwhelmed by ‘things’ and pressures, to then spend our money on week-long silent retreats. We create a life that overwhelming noise to find solace in simple quiet. Why wouldn’t we just appreciate the simple along the way?
“The great science to live happily is to live in the present.” Pythagoras
And how true it is. Some of the best days I’ve ever had are days spent being truly and utterly immersed in whatever I was doing. Where the silence feels like the theme tune to your work. I love that. Being truly present is a wondrous thing.
You’ll know if you are truly present because you notice the little things. Like how the sun pierces through the trees on your morning walk or how the morning dew clings to the grass making it sparkle in the sunlight. Those things, those things are what life is all about.
So why do we fail to see the little things? Or worse, we see but don’t notice?
If we know it’s good for us, why don’t we do more of it?
Well sometimes reality trumps theory. This year alone feels like a bit of a blur. Global pandemic, constant worry, economical collapse. On top of that you’ve got social media pressures, life pressures, work pressures. We are, sometimes, a melting pot of expectations and pressures. It’s hard, really quite hard, to find some calmness.
Between keeping the house tidy, managing your work load, the renovations, the finances, keeping the dogs and/or the kids happy and fed, it can start to feel like there is no time to be present. Where is there time between the chaos to find the quiet?
If you login to Facebook, you will get fed a stream of photos and content that tells you how other people are living their lives. Of course the intention of this is to make us feel connected, like we have a window into our family’s and friend’s worlds. I think initially that’s what we all used it for. It was comforting to know that your aunty has just redone the kitchen or your friend has just got a new job. It gives you something to talk to them about or just makes you feel connected from afar. But as ever, as we conquer certain things we begin to evolve. We’ve evolved into following people that we don’t know to peer into how they live their lives. Instead of being inquisitive and curious, we’ve turned sour and jealous. It’s near on impossible, when comparing your life to the most famous people on the planet, not to feel like you pail in comparison. We then feel inferior. As if we’ve been doing life wrong.
And hence we worry, become anxious and stressed. So on top of everything, juggling life, we now feel like we’ve being doing it all wrong all along.
Social media I happen to think is great and has it’s place. However, it doesn’t help us live in the present.
So how do we live more in the present? Well my thoughts…
Don’t reject difficult
It’s part of life to experience the good and the bad. Be present in all and feel the weight and let it flow over you. The chaos is the quiet, or rather it can be if you channel it.
It’s easy to feel like you want to run away from a bad mood, a bad meeting. Instead, linger in it and understand it. You might find some stillness by experiencing in it.
Build, measure and learn
We are all different. To really understand how you find more stillness you need to test it out. Meditate for 7 days, see if that makes you feel more present. Then try reading some literature that really makes you think. Try that for 7 days and see how you feel.
Life is really an experiment. If you treat it like so we’ll be able to live more optimally. For me?
A recipe of writing, reading, walking and journalling.
Being a few episodes behind isn’t a bad thing
“Napoleon made it his habit to delay responding to the mail. His secretary was instructed to wait three weeks before opening any correspondence.” Ryan Holiday in Stillness is the Key.
I haven’t looked at the news in a few weeks now. There was a time I was checking it everyday and it was overwhelming. The news, especially right now, is overwhelming. It’s fine to be a few episodes behind. It will filter some things that you didn’t need to know about.
Everything you do doesn’t need to be a part of a master plan. We’re allowed to do things just because we want to. We’re allowed to enjoy something for no other reason than the fact it makes our heart sing. Reading a book, writing an article, walking the dog. Do things you love, simply because you love them. That’s totally and utterly your right. You don’t have to have a ‘side hustle’ if you don’t want to. You can just write because you love to. That’s allowed too.
Don’t take it too seriously — have some perspective
We are here once. If you’re looking for a purpose in life that’s cool but don’t forget to look up and see the beauty in the day. We are all going to die at some point. We can’t escape that. Life simply should be about trying to create as many great days as possible.