By Fred Kusch  

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.”
                                                                                                         — Mary Anne Radmacher

I don’t know about you, but for me this is the time of year for reflecting, taking stock, giving thanks and appreciating what I have. I also like to spend time looking forward to the goals I really want to pursue in the coming year.

It’s motivating to see how the next year can be different, better and more fulfilling. I’m not looking for a hope or cure-all for what ails our planet, but, on the other hand, I want to achieve something simpler, attainable and reasonable. I am thinking of trying something that seems a little simpler—being truly present for others.

Truly present.

Being truly present may not sound difficult, but I think it will prove to be a challenge. What if I were really present in my interactions with those I encounter every day? What if I respond better to questions after I really listen and take time to contemplate my answer? What if I put down my cellphone and really pay attention by taking the time to look someone in the eye as I answer their question? Might this mean something to the other person?

Every day is busy, and we are all trying to multitask with the ever-changing hats we wear. 

But what kind of changes would happen, even in the small circles I move in, if I gave others my full attention? Would they feel appreciated? Cared for? Valued? Heard? Soothed? Cherished?

Then I think about the care and treatment I provide at home with family, friends, shopkeepers and the community where I live. Would being truly present feed a need that my clients, children, spouse and others have? What would this do for all of my relationships? What could this do for my neighbors? Community? No need for me to go on, you get the idea.

Would I stop hearing, “Did you hear a word I said?” “Are you paying attention to me?” “Please put down your phone.” “What?” Maybe I am the only one who gets these questions.

What would it do for you? Would you stop saying, “What was the time of that meeting?” because you thought you were successfully multitasking? Would you slow down a little? Would you sit in one place longer—enough to have a meaningful conversation with someone about a mutually enjoyable topic? Might you laugh with someone or just smile for one blissful moment as you appreciate the person you are present for?

Technology has quickened the pace of our lives and many of the things we do at work and at home. We are looking for rapid results, and we want answers faster because we can’t wait calmly in our own skin for them. 

The hours and days fly by with us hardly knowing where the time went, yet we continue to move as fast as we can to get the job done and check off the boxes on our many lists. We want others to make progress quickly and we see failure when they don’t progress as quickly as we expect. May we see it as a reflection on ourselves. Taking time to be present with others, especially those most important to us, can be part of a movement toward the progress we so desperately want to see and feel as success.

I don’t think my undivided attention will solve all the world’s problems, but it just might make some moments of my life more meaningful to me as well as others. I might learn something new or even help solve a problem. By being fully present, I might make someone laugh or smile, just by listening to them.

During this holiday season and the coming year, I will put down my phone, look away from my computer and do my best to give the person standing before me my undivided attention when interacting with him or her. We both just might receive a present in return.

If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important.
                                                                                                                  — Bertrand Russell 

Fred Kusch, president and CEO of JFK Associates, is a well-known speaker, author, consultant and business coach. For more information, visit