What is being Present?

With personal leadership coach-author-speaker John Kuypers

Being Present is what you experience when you are completely at peace with this very moment. It is a journey where you take intense personal responsibility for every choice you make in life.

Your feelings are calm. Your reflexes are fast. Your mind is clear. You are decisive. You know what you want. You know what’s right for you. You perform your best – public speaking, sports, music, relating to people. Your confidence is deep. You know and accept that you are not perfect. This lets you be real.  You accept you have faults and you own them.   Read the ten benefits of being present at the bottom of this page.

Being present is a time frame you choose to focus on.

There are only three possible time frames – past, present and future. Once you become aware of the thoughts you are having and the content of those thoughts, you will notice which timeframe you are in at any given time. You will begin to notice how often your thoughts and feelings are focused on the past or the future. These thoughts are riddled with judgments, comparing the past or future to your present situation. Many people spend less than 1% of their time being fully present. The rest of the time, you drift in and out as your attention wanders. Your mind may even seem to be out of your own control.

Our memory is strong when we are in the present.

Do you recall times that are very clear in your memory? All of you was in the “here and now” in those moments – in a first love, on a great vacation, with a trusted friend. These were moments when you felt safe. You are present more often when you feel safe even in difficult, stressful, anxious situations – when people criticize you, when you make mistakes, when you are in a financial jam or in a love life crisis. Otherwise, outside circumstances will dictate whether you are able to be present…or not.  You succeed when you learn to control your inner experience.

Being present happens in an instant.

So does not being present. An upsetting thoughts triggers emotions based on the past hurts or future fears. It is highly dependent on how good your boundaries are. Both result in conflict and unhappiness rooted in past and future-based thoughts and feelings. This is the real you that you want to keep hidden.

The path to being more real in the present is to stop comparing.

You compare the present with what “should” be happening. The result of this is judgments. You judge situations, other people and yourself. Judgments make it impossible to be present. Your mind becomes pre-occupied with thoughts that analyze the past or role-play the future. You live in the past to lick your wounds or you live in the future because you don’t trust that you will be fine in the future.

Being present requires you to live as if you have nothing to hide, nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

This is how your mind, body, heart and soul become unified in the present moment. Time slows down. You are connecting with God – the eternal life force. In fact, the definition of eternity is the present moment. It has never NOT been the present moment – the only time that is real. This is merely a logical fact.

Your ability to be present depends heavily on having good boundaries. This requires Intense Personal Responsibility for how you respond to others.

Boundaries are the reason for the two hands in the Present Living logo. If you have weak boundaries, you will either lash out at others or you will be passive and let others run over you. When you are true to yourself, your focus is on self-control and self-responsibility.  You don’t try to control others, nor do you let others control you. This requires you to let go of your biased views of the outcomes you want.  You need to “first get neutral about outcomes and then you will see clearly what to do.” This is known as the principle of right judgment that leads to inner peace.

Being present begins with NOTICING when you are trying to alter the present moment. To be present, you must first accept the moment as it is now. This is known as the Paradoxical Theory of Change.

You use “judgments” to try to change others and your self. With awareness, you notice that this frequently gets you the opposite of what you want. People dig in, get angry and work hard to STOP you from getting what you want.  These setbacks create a ‘victim’ mindset. Being present requires you to stop being a victim. You become a more decisive person who makes wiser choices in difficult, uncertain and even scary situations. Your self-confidence and self-trust grow tremendously, as does your faith and spirituality.  You feel safer, which lets you be present with others. They soon notice a real and positive change!

The simplest way to master being present is to practice The First Rule of Inner Peace.  This universal spiritual principle, originally taught by Jesus, works with anyone of any faith background.  You learn that when you seek “peace first and results second,” you are automatically present, positive and centered.  This is upside-down to the common way of only feeling at peace after you  get the results you want.

The first stage is to gain control over your racing mind. 

The book, “What’s Important Now” teaches six ways to let go of your past so you can focus your mind on the present. W.I.N. is John Kuypers’ top-selling book.  In it, you learn how to become centered and self-aware of the tiny moments that trigger fear and anxiety, robbing you of your ability to be at peace in the present moment.  This is the first of three stages on a  life-long journey towards peace and spiritual wisdom.  You master self-awareness and get ‘peace of mind.’  Read about the W.I.N. book and get a free chapter download.

The second stage is to gain control over your volatile emotions.

The book, “The Non-Judgmental Christian” teaches five lessons that show you – in graphic detail using highly personal stories – how judgments are the buttons that people push which trigger your past wounds. Once triggered, a vicious cycle of judgmentalism, blame and accusing begins that feeds on itself. Breaking this cycle teaches you compassion. This is the second stage of the three stages to constant inner peace. You master self-acceptance and get ‘peace of heart.’

The third stage is to connect deeply with our soul.  We do this by intentionally giving away personal power. 

The book, “Who’s The Driver Anyway?” teaches a method for collaborating so people work together better. It is based on the simple metaphor of a driver-passenger relationship and how each shared decision-making power. WTDA empowers people to take the right level of responsibility for their role inside any system. You can learn about this stage for married couples by downloading a free article called Near and Far Stay Married. Deciding who gets to decide is the third and final stage of the inner peace mission, where your core purpose is to find lasting peace in God himself.  You master inner healing and you get peace in your mind, heart and soul.

Being neutral and non-judgmental before taking action is the key to being present, positive and at peace.

This gives you a quiet the mind so you can see clearly what you need to do and be at peace if things don’t work out as we hoped. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. When the mind, heart and soul are still, you are sensitive to the voice of God – the promptings of the Spirit. Now you move forward with confidence, trusting that you are getting the life you are meant to have by responding to difficulties from a place of love and service, not fear and control.

When you are present, you are tuned in to your ‘Quiet Inner Voice.’ This is sacred.  

Many people are fully present when they first wake up. They have “slept” on their challenges. Then they wake up and simply “know” what’s right for them to say or do. This is the Spirit prompting them. When you are in touch with your soul, the source of your being and who you really are, you move forward in confidence.

A racing mind is evidence that you don’t trust that you are having the life you were meant to have.

This condition of constant self-analysis disconnects you from sensing the promptings of the Spirit.  You experience inner conflict and second-guessing – struggling to be true to yourself, yet afraid others will judge you if you do. People you care about feel unloved by you because you don’t feel loved yourself.

God exists in the present.

God describes himself as, “I AM Who I AM” in Exodus chapter 3. God has always existed and so has the present moment. The past and future are merely constructs in our mind. No one can do anything real in the past or future. Only the present.

Enjoy these TEN practical benefits when you focus on being present:

Five performance benefits:

  1. Better performance under pressure. (you’re focused)
  2. Improved listening and memory skills (you’re “present-minded”, not “absent-minded”)
  3. Better conflict resolution (you don’t get emotionally ‘triggered’)
  4. More persistence and ability to learn (you are more patient and tolerant of difficulties)
  5. Wiser, clearer decisions (you don’t react out of habit)

Five health & relationship benefits:

  1. Improved physical health & energy. (less stress, lower blood pressure, sharper mind)
  2. More laughter and a playful outlook. (you’re at peace, so life is more joyful)
  3. More honest & open communication (you have nothing to hide)
  4. Confidence and conviction in leading others. (you can handle their criticisms)
  5. Greater capacity for emotional intimacy. (you are comfortable in your own skin)

I hope this explanation on what is being present has been helpful to you.  You can download a variety of free chapters from the books mentioned above.  If you want to take intense personal responsibility for your life, go to KuypersLeadership.com.  There are courses, coaching and materials for people facing life-sized challenges and wanting to come to peace.

Being in the present is a gift that lasts a life-time…but remember, the only time anything real happens is in the present moment… so “act or accept but never stay stuck!” If you found this page helpful, please click like and share it on Facebook and Twitter below. Thanks kindly.


John Kuypers, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Consultant

http://johnkuypers.com blog –  Intense Personal Responsibilty for self, loved ones and your soul.
http://kuypersleadership.com  Helping Leaders stun their world. Serving family business, partnerships and non-profits by taking intense personal responsibility for everything that matters and none that does not.