Being Truly Present is Never Boring

Being Present means being fully conscious of the moment and free from outside and inside noise. It’s often associated with feelings of stillness and peace. Our senses often seem sharper. When we tune in to every sense and appreciate the now, we find the present is not boring. We find out it is filled with so much beauty and wonder it is impossible to get bored. Boredom does not naturally arise out of a beautifully still, silent moment. Boredom is born out of a resistance to the present moment. It is the opposite of peace; it is resistance to peace.

Early in human history, when our ancestors had to spend most of their days securing food and shelter, boredom wasn’t an option. Boredom is a modern luxury. Boredom signals what we’re doing right now seems to be lacking purpose. We worry about being entertained as opposed to being present.

A beautiful gift we can give ourselves is being present — engaged with life, connected with others, listening with kindness and empathy, staying open-minded and seeing a sense of purpose. When we are present in the moment, not much else matters. The worries of tomorrow do not appear, while the worries of yesterday disappear.

Being present brings an opportunity to enhance our knowledge, skillsets, and interests. It can provide a lesson, an experience, even a connection. Let’s savor fresh adventures and new experiences for personal growth and a richer overall existence. Let’s not be indifferent about things outside of our realm of interest. Let’s be open to change and learning. Let’s look at challenges as opportunities to grow, thrive, and succeed.

Being ‘here and now’ is one of the hardest things to master as a human being. In a world of busyness, distraction, and noise, it’s hard to be focused.  A world in which what is next or what is going on around us dominates our environment and sensory inputs. Being present is not thinking about what I want to do or say next. Being present is not worrying about what we might be missing.

Our body can physically inhabit a space when our mind is elsewhere. This can alleviate boredom and possibly even be productive, but is it fruitful? If my body is washing the dishes, then my presence needs to be in the washing. When it hasn’t, I can miss cleaning a dish properly and, even worse, hit the edge of a plate or glass, on the counter, breaking it.

If I am with another person, then the conversation is our connection in that moment. Being present means focusing on every spoken word and listening deeply to what is being said. Validate to the speaker the value of their words and thoughts. My Dad was great at this, always made whomever he was talking to feel like the most important person in his world at that moment – because he was. I am sad these days when I see someone checking their phone in the middle of a conversation. It tells the other person they are not important, and the conversation is boring.

Tim Ferriss says in The 4 Hour Work Week, “The opposite of happiness is boredom.” Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. Those feelings are generated through engagement with life and those around us. The first part of that quote is even more impactful, “The opposite of love is indifference.” Not being present is being indifferent. The next time we feel bored or indifferent, make a conscious effort to shift this perspective. Be creative about bringing light into our life.

Being present takes effort. It takes maturity. It may be inconvenient or feel uncomfortable. However, our presence can be healing, likewise the lack of our presence can be hurtful. When it comes to others, we don’t have to know them well to be present. It’s by being present, we get to know them.

There’s a simple but very profound message in the song, Present Tense by Pearl Jam. Although I don’t listen to much of Pearl Jam’s work, I appreciate their perspective of focusing on artistry and messaging instead of obsessing over sales figures. This song is soothing but challenging, asking us to take a different approach – be present, be inspired by the bend of a tree, lean out to catch the sun’s rays.

Exodus 24:12 should read something like, “come up the mountain and be.” The Hebrew word ‘heye’ is typically translated as “stay with me,” but would be closer as “be”. God is telling Moses to come up the mountain and be with him. God wanted Moses to be present in His presence.

Then there is the Presence of God, a very real 24/7 relationship for us that should never be boring or indifferent. Prayer, service, and love of others need to reflect our presence to make this relationship stronger. In St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:6-9), “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Being truly present is about being intentional, about being engaged. It is embracing the peace of the present moment. It is receiving the God of peace and the peace of God.

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