#1 Skill in Happiness and Leadership: Presence / Mindfulness
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Blaise Pascal 1654
"Only in stillness, we can exist or perform in the realm of our peak potential."
Hey friends: You can read the article (below the video) or watch the video (directly below).
You want to be happy, right? Then consider the arts of presence, mindfulness and stillness.
You're probably familiar, at this point, with presence and mindfulness. But maybe not so much with how to be happy through stillness.
Hopefully you know by now that presence and mindfulness are scientifically shown as resourceful mental tools for mental and physical health, as well as for personal power, effective communication and leadership.
For its part, stillness though not studied like presence and mindfulness, is an equally beneficial tool to be happy, resourceful and productive.
In fact, stillness is most often the very foundation for a highly resourceful, creative and productive mind.
What are Presence, Mindfulness and Stillness?
Presence is being present in this moment. With our mind and senses focused in the here and now.
It’s human nature for our minds to constantly wander, most often flitting from rumination, worry or regret over some past thing. Or jumping forward in fear, anticipation or preparation for some imagined future thing.
Presence is anchoring our mind – our attention, intention and senses – in the here and now. As fully and consistently as possible.
Because our minds naturally and pretty consistently move to the past and future, seeking out some imagined or potential threat.
But life can only happen now. The past is relegated to the ashbin of history. The future, even ten seconds from now, may never come for us.
All we have is now. And how we choose to spend it.
Mindfulness includes presence, plus more.
In the most common definition, being mindful means to remain present, but also to effectively step back and observe yourself in the moment. How you are feeling and behaving in the here and now. In mindfulness, you disengage, almost like a third person, observing how you are feeling, acting and reacting. Not judging or criticizing yourself. But simply observing yourself in a detached manner.
But, let's take mindfulness a little further. Or, perhaps, just clarify it a little more. Because mindfulness is a powerful tool for developing self-compassion and personal growth.
When we step back and observe our beingness and our behavior from a detached, third person perspective, without judgement or criticism and with compassion and patience, we can effectively coach ourselves into being a higher version of ourselves in the moment and in the future.
The goal with mindfulness is not just to detach and observe, but to do so with the ultimate intention on improving some aspect of ourselves. We want to grow, develop and be our best self, doing our best work, achieving optimal outcomes with ourselves and our work, remaining otherwise present, in this moment.
Because the ultimate utility and power in mindfulness is not to simply be able to observe ourselves in a detached manner. Mindfulness’s ultimate value is as a tool for us to grow and develop as a human being. To become a higher version of ourselves, doing better works. Stretching and reaching higher levels with our lives.
With mindfulness, we’re also intent on improving some other aspect of ourselves. We want to grow, develop and be our best self, doing our best work, achieving optimal outcomes with ourselves and our work, remaining otherwise present, in this moment.
Mindfulness in Practice
For example, let’s say you want to improve your relationship with your partner. And you know that, in order to be your best self, doing your best work, achieving an optimal outcome, you need to be more attendant to, and less dismissive of, your partner.
(A bad habit some people have but for which I, I am proud to say, am NEVER guilty of. Oh, what’s that you say? You spoke to my wife already? Oh. Okay. Never mind then).
So, let’s assume you’re speaking with your partner right now. Just the two of you in your living room.
You make a mental note to yourself to practice this higher version of yourself. That is, you tell yourself to remain mindful to attend to, and in no way dismiss, your partner.
You see, you’re already being mindful: Reminding yourself to remain present and attendant to your partner. Good job!
Keep it Going
Now, to succeed in your ultimate intention (and relationship), you’ll have to remain present and mindful with your partner throughout this time together.
Because otherwise, you might (and by might, I mean you probably will) default to past habit and behavior. (Liking glaring directly through your partner’s head… or, here’s a modern rarity, succumbing to the urge to stare at your smart phone).
And game off.
Suddenly, in spite of your noble and productive initial intention, because you didn’t stay mindful with your partner: you failed yourself, your partner and your relationship. (And yikes! could it be? even your future together?)
Stillness: Happiness, Resourcefulness and Power
Okay, so how does stillness differ from presence and mindfulness?
Stillness takes presence and mindfulness one step further.
Isn’t it true we can be present, yet not feel a stillness in our spirit?
I mean, all hell could be breaking loose around us, literally or metaphorically, and we could remain present in the here and now, and not feel or experience much, if any, stillness, right?
And, the same goes with mindfulness. We can remain present and mindful, yet not feel a stillness within.
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Independent of Each Other
So, we can remain present, yet not particularly still within.
On the other hand, we can also remain present, while remaining still within. So, it’s not like the two are mutually exclusive.
For example, let’s assume we’re in a tense situation with other people. A situation with heightened emotions.
We might be very present within this situation, while also feeling quite agitated and devoid of inner stillness. Our inner state may match the chaos and conflict of the outer situation.
Or… here’s the ideal scenario: we can be in a chaotic and stressful external situation, while remaining present, mindful and still within.
BINGO!!! That’s the ticket!
In the Eye of the Storm
Stillness is remaining centered, calm and still within, even when we’re in the middle of a torrential storm. In effect, we place ourselves perpetually in the Eye of the Storm. In an optimally and amazingly still, centered place inside, even while all hell is busting loose around us.
So, to be clear, stillness does not require there to be chaos, stress or mayhem around us. Though this might be the most valuable time for us to access a state of inner stillness.
Stillness is equated with inner peace. Centeredness. And a sense of deep confidence, resourcefulness, control and personal power.
So, what’s the definition of stillness then?
The Definition of Stillness
Stillness is that sense of inner peace and personal power that our human spirit innately craves. That no external force is greater than our inner force. That sense that all is good, our world is safe and we are the master our existence.
And let’s be clear about why stillness is so valuable to a life well lived.
A Life Well Lived – Intrinsic Fulfillment. Extrinsic Success
Why is stillness good? Will it help us be happy and fulfilled?
Well, I think it’s obvious, but for the sake of clarity, let’s discuss…
You do want to feel inner peace, right?
And you also want to have the ability to create this state for yourself? To not be reliant upon the “Stillness God’s” to smile upon you whenever their capricious minds decide?
And you do want to feel and know you have the power to actualize the personal growth and progress your soul desires, right?
And you want to be happy and the master of your life experience. Specifically, the other positive states and experiences that define joy and fulfillment, right?
If you want these things, and I’m guessing you do, then your ability to master some reasonable ability at stillness is imperative.
(CLICK HERE for a good book on the Art of Presence.)
How do you motivate your team?
Leadership (both inspiring and motivating your employees to achieve your goals) is a mixture of art and science.
Leadership skills are largely learned and developed through mindful, consistent practice.
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