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Reclaim The Profundity Of The Present

Each moment has meaning that, if ignored, will be lost forever. Circumstances will never again combine in this unique way to form this moment, right here, right now.

Are you here, now?

Seems like an obvious question, but I’d bet good money that you’re actually time traveling. You are either partially revisiting something from the past (whether it was ten minutes ago or ten years) or anxiously getting ahead of something that hasn’t even yet occurred. You are a mind divided, and the net result is that you fail to synthesize valuable patterns that are right beneath your nose.

The practice of intuition necessarily requires time and patience. You have to be willing to sit with an idea long enough to turn it over in your mind and to consider its full application. It requires play and cognitive courage. You must do your thinking for yourself.

I was struck this week by a passage in a little book I received as a high schooler attending a leadership camp:

“When it is so easy to get our thinking done for us, the temptation is not to think. We glance at the newspaper headlines and let them form our opinions, and neglect to read the scholarly articles in the monthly magazine that would give us the meat of the subject. We listen to a few minutes of the radio and flatter ourselves that we know all about the Symphony. We read a review of a play and decide that we don’t need to see the play itself. These are the temptations of the average person today.”

William H. Danforth, I Dare You

That passage was written in 1931! Letting others synthesize our thoughts for us is not a new phenomenon, it’s a human condition.

It’s time to reclaim the profundity of the present moment. Each moment has meaning that, if ignored, will be lost forever. Circumstances will never again combine in this unique way to form this moment, right here, right now. There are insights that you can never regain if you let them slip through your fingers. Those who are able willing to do their own thinking and to take disciplined, strategic pauses even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty are much more likely to connect non-intuitive dots and synthesize larger patterns.

Pause for a few minutes each hour. Notice what’s going on around you. Pay attention to what’s actually on your mind. What are you actually thinking right now?

Journal by hand. I know it’s so much more convenient to journal by typing your words, but writing them out slows you down and forces you to spend more time with your thoughts. Allow your mind to work in the background.

Think grey. This is a phrase I first heard from Stephen Sample, the former president of USC. He believed that there is rarely a need to have a strong opinion from the outset. Instead, allow conflicting ideas to marinate in your mind and purposefully sit with them in that tension. You may find a third path you’d not considered.

Practice gratitude for this moment. If you can feel, think, and express, you are still in the game. Be grateful for what is here and now and don’t live in a land of wish and regret.

Do your own thinking. Spend time with the source materials. Don’t allow others (or algorithms) to synthesize your thinking for you. Have your own well-considered opinions and know your reasons. And, keep your antennae up for disconfirming information.

Be present. Think deeply. Don’t time travel.

Reclaim the profundity of the present.

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Last modified: April 25, 2023

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