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Friday, May 26, 2017

Being Present

Written by  Richard Finger

In the past, I have written about the magic of the “Fish! Philosophy” and its four principles: Choose your attitude, make their day, be there, and play. I have found myself, and others around me, struggling with one of the these four, namely “Be there,” or as I call it, “Being present.” There is so much going on around us all the time – cellphones, TV screens, laptops – our brains are almost always over-stimulated. Even watching CNN is a chore, playing into our need to be overstimulated by not only a multi-panel discussion, but a quick moving news scrawler at the bottom of the screen, and usually a countdown clock to some main event they’ll be hosting.

Imagine now you are at work, with the same level of overstimulation. I’m competing with people speaking to me live, ringing my phone, emailing and expecting an immediate response, my personal phone signaling a text message, almost all at once! It all seems so overwhelming at times. In revisiting the Fish Philosophy, I discovered a great blog on their website that provides us with helpful guidance to continue adhering to these principles. Just the other day, the blog was on the subject of mindfulness, which seemed so timely given how overfired my brain is at the moment. I’m happy to share mindfulness tips with you, as they can be useful both at home and at work.

Mindfulness is about paying attention. It’s the intentional practice of living in the present, aware of what is happening around you and inside of you. Quoting from the blog, “Focusing on being alert sounds easy, like drinking a cup of coffee, but it’s not. Studies show people spend almost half their time doing one thing while thinking about something else. Typically, we obsess about events long past or problems that have not happened yet.”

The past and future and just thoughts, but thoughts are our main cause of stress. Researchers say we release the highest level of stress hormones after waking: having rested, our brains re-engage by doing what they are wired to do, anticipating what might hurt us. It’s exhausting when body and mind are in different places. The goal of mindfulness is to help them act as a team rather than as competitors.

Here are the tips to bring more mindful moments to your workday (all found on Fishphilosohy.com):

1) Be there (or “Find short opportunities”) – This tip centers around short meditation sessions. Meditation trains your brain to be more mindful. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and just observe your breath, a word, or a body sensation.

2) Choose your attitude (or “Be aware when it counts”) – You may be aware of the personality traits and tendencies that drive your emotional reactions. This may help you understand why you act as you do in some situations. Mindfulness hones your ability to be aware when it matters most – in the present. When you’re mindful, you observe what is happening and how you feel about it. You don’t judge the situation or your reaction. You just do your best to watch it.

3) Play (or “Be open to possibilities”) – The beauty of mindfulness is that by accepting each moment as it is, you are better prepared to influence your future. If you are open to it, you can learn from every situation. You can embrace new possibilities without limiting yourself to old reactions. That’s the heart of play.

4) Make their day (or “Engage without attacking) – We all have ingrained, unconscious ways of dealing with difficult people. We may try to avoid them whenever possible. We may give in. Or we may attack. None of these options is healthy – physically or emotionally. You can engage in a conflict without attacking or giving in. Avoid “you” statements that label them, as in “You are…”. Use “I” statements instead, such as “When I hear that, I feel…”. This approach shares your position without degrading theirs.

By introducing these four tips into your daily life, see if you notice a difference in how you are relating to people, and how people around you notice a difference. While I know I am not perfect, I will do my best to practice mindfulness each and every day.

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