The Good Daily

Presents of presence

We spoke recently about the festive season and how mindfulness can help us cope during this typically busy period.

Taking time out to refocus our energy is terrific for our own mental health, but how are we when it comes to considering the needs of our loved ones?

While we’re racing about at work, shopping cooking, decorating and managing events – are we actually giving our loved ones what they want most? Our undivided attention and presence? Are we unintentionally sending a signal that we are ‘not there’ for them.

As the Minimalists have said “…Many of us attempt to give material items to make up for the time we don’t spend with the people we love. But possessions can’t ever make up for lost time.”

The cliché of ‘presence over presents’ may be tired, but its meaning is timeless. In an age of constant distraction and technology competing for our attention it can be very easy to lose sight of what matters during the holidays.

In an article for the Huffington Post, meditation teacher Charles Francis, writes that there are four reasons that people may be mentally unavailable to their family and friends. 1.) too many activities, 2.) background noise, 3.) worrying, and 4.) unresolved issues.

By identifying these sources and eliminating or reducing these you are allowing your mind to be fully attentive to those around you. You’ll also be able to experience the best of your festive season in a complete focused way.

How to give your presence

1.       Stop doing – just be. Prioritise what actually matters and if that means the washing can wait one more day while you do a jigsaw puzzle together or share a cuppa quietly, then do so.

2.       Make time. If you must schedule time to be together in the same room due to a busy life, then do so. Simply making time with no distraction or interruption can help you bond in the moment.

3.       Deep listening. Make the effort to truly listen to what others are saying. What are they really conveying? Use your body language carefully - your silent cues will be received more effectively than meaningless small talk may be.

4.       Practice your mindfulness so your headspace is clear for others.

5. Take your annual leave. Too many of us still aren’t using the full allocated amount of annual leave that we are entitled to. While work may be an important part of our lives, it can never replace the rejuvenation and physical and emotional benefits that time off can provide.

What tips do you have for being present with others? Share your ideas with us on Twitter at @Gooddayatwork


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Cary CooperGood Day at Work®

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

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Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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