On Being Present

Over the past week, I have been able to take a bit more of my paternity leave to hang out with Andi and Lucy. Lucy is now almost 4 months old and is incredibly aware of everything going on around her — smiling when you smile, “talking” out-loud (think baby dolphin mixed with monkey) and looking with great interest at anything you are doing.

I started to notice over the past week that every-time my phone was in my hand, Lucy would immediately look at the phone. After a while, if I was holding her and still looking at my phone, she would start to cry.

The first time it happened, I brushed it off — she just wants attention and the fact that I didn’t give it to her right now was frustrating to her. The next time and then the next, it dawned on me. How many times have I given up the opportunity to have a real connection for scrolling through my phone?

We go to dinner with a friend, we walk down the street, we call our mom, we have a meeting or we rock our child to sleep all the while only giving half of our attention to the person right in front of us. And this action is self perpetuating — once you are no longer present, those around you also stop being present too. Amazing that this behavior now is just normal; it took my 4 month old daughter to tell me that I was being rude!

Reality of Modern Society — New Yorker cartoon by Liam Francis Walsh

Luke recently recommended Ezra Klein’s podcast “Is modern society making us depressed?” (answer, yes and definitely worth a listen!) as we were talking about this issue. The salient point being that we have systematically alienated ourselves from others to the severe detriment of our mental health.

Just saying “be present” doesn’t seem to fix the issue so here are 5 actions that I am doing to be more present for Lucy and those around me:

  1. Delete social media apps off phone (don’t need to go cold turkey, but easy to avoid scrolling Instagram if you have to open your laptop to view)
  2. Connect daily with one person that I normally wouldn’t speak too
  3. Stop checking my phone when I wake up (this one has been incredibly hard!)
  4. Reflect daily on three specific things I am thankful for
  5. Clear time in my day to slow down and enjoy the little things. Which right now is making silly faces at my daughter and discovering her laugh!

One thought on “On Being Present

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