Presence Is The Greatest Present

Jayleen Rennebergself-development

We are all guilty of it. Our head is down on our phone while someone is talking to us and we miss a piece of the conversation. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, but sometimes we miss a piece of information that is so important to our loved one. Running a business mostly from home I’m guilty of this… a lot. Sometimes it’s an extra email I’m trying to get out before bed, sometimes it’s text to Rachel about a new product we want to create and sometimes it’s just Facebook sucking time away from those directly in my presence.

Coming home from 5 days of Christmas with family down south, I had my phone in the back seat and my ears wide open. Somewhere in the first half of our 6 hour drive, my husband said “Christmas was so nice, you were really “here”. A lot of the time at home, you’re there but you’re not actually with us”. This statement made me realize that one of the reasons why I enjoyed Christmas so much was because I got to enjoy all of the conversations I had, all the subtle body language, amazing expressions and be totally involved in every mundane and exciting activity that took place. It also made me realize how many of those moments I miss on a day to day basis because my head is buried on my phone or my computer.

Having experience the power that presence had on those around me, I’ve though about some changes that can be made to keep me more present in 2017 than I was in 2016.

Set aside designated media free play time. We often think about setting aside designated work time but these days work is inevitable. With such easy access to email, we can literally work 24-hours a day and sometimes we feel like we are expected to. Work will happen, deadlines will be met and assignments will be complete. What often gets lost is our time to connect in real time. Maybe life only allows for 1 hour a day, maybe it allows for more. Whatever it does, I suggest totally unplugging. This means putting your devices in a closed room, turning off the TV and have some real time with those around you. If you live solo, maybe you can call someone and chat with them, or make arrangements for tea, or go visit/facetime your family.

Be mindful of the time I’m taking to check messages. If I’m mid conversation with my bhg hubby and my phone buzzes, instead of picking it up and taking a look, I’m going to wait until he’s through his sentence and then check. If I can see that the message is going to turn into a text conversation, instead of trying to hold a human conversation and a text conversation, I’m going to say “I’m going to need about 5 min here”. During that 5 min, I’ll allow myself to be fully involved in media, checking emails, scanning Instagram etc, until my text conversation is done and I’ve enjoyed filling time with other media activities. Then I can go back to conversation with my loved one and focus on the conversation we are having.

My hope is that focusing on these two changes will end up with me experiencing greater joy in my life and greater connection to the people I hold close. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking it’s ok to not pay attention to when people are talking to you if you’re on your phone. I also don’t want them remembering that mom was always around but she never knew what we were doing because she was always on the computer. I want them to remember playing together, dancing together, crafting together, reading together, tobogganing together and so much more. Media is still a relatively new technology that we are all still trying to navigate. How does it fit in to our lives, what connections does it allow us to enrich and how is it hindering our real life connections? These questions will have a different answer for us all, and there is definitely not a single solution to enjoying and balancing media with everyday presence.

I encourage you to take a look at your life and see if you’re missing out on pieces of conversations or moments with your loves ones because of a device at your fingertips. If you are, ask yourself if there is a better way to give the gift of presence on a more regular basis.

Happy 2017