When my 21 year-old daughter wants to get my attention she will utter the phrase, “Your presence is my present.” That quote is a very effective way to remind someone to put away the distractions and focus on the moment you are sharing together.
Spending quality time with someone gets harder and harder with all the technology available on our cell phones and on our wrists…text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, app games like Pokemon Go and Candy Crush and a million other games are constantly tempting us to look down at our device instead of looking into the eyes of the person we are talking to. We tell ourselves we can listen and play Candy Crush at the same time, but in reality what we have to realize we are doing is sending a clear message that the person with us is not worth focusing our attention on.
I’m certain that we have all been on the receiving end of someone we are trying to talk to while they are distracted with something else and we have felt that sense of not being valued by them. And sadly, I’m certain every one of us has also likely been that person who has been distracted when someone else has tried to talk to us and we’ve been the ones making that other person feel they weren’t valued. I’ve definitely been on both sides of those scenarios myself. And it’s ironic that we aren’t more mindful of being attentive when we ourselves know how it feels to be neglected, but it’s a trap we all seem to fall into.
“The most precious gift that we can offer others
is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we
love, they will bloom like flowers.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
The more we are able to be present when we are in someone’s presence the more we are able to connect with them, the better we can understand them, and the more we are able to feel love for them. By the same token, before someone can feel love for us they need to feel understood by us, which requires us to listen, really listen, to them. If we are willing to be truly present we allow the other person to feel understood and they in turn will feel love for us too.
Our presence is our present to others, but unless we make a concerted effort to be more present it likely won’t happen. Maybe writing that quote my daughter uses on our bathroom mirror or on our phone case or somewhere we are sure to see it is one way to remind us to give the gift of being present.
~Amy Rees Anderson