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Being Present (nathanbarry.com)
58 points by Ashuu 1610 days ago | hide | past | web | 14 comments | favorite

>Instead I had things to talk about related to the books I had just been browsing

Ironically, it still required external ideas/stimulus to come up with topics of conversation. I was expecting the OP would say it gave them time to reflect, or be present to himself! One could just as easily browse books/news on a phone that would be of mutual interest for a coming conversation. There is some sort of "curation" that goes on in the bookstore, but nothing that couldn't be provided by software.

One a phone you would be distracted by email, social media, etc. In a bookstore, you can completely absorb yourself in a book.

I thought the same. It's still looking for a distraction, just in another medium.

The exceptionally cheesy but absolutely brilliant book FISH! Philosophy really nails the concept of being present.

Be There: When people need you, they need all of you. Setting aside distractions and judgments to be mentally and emotionally present is a sign of respect. It improves communication and strengthens relationships.

In all honesty, it's one of the few snippets of solid advice that has had a profound and noticeable impact on my personal and professional life.

The hard part is when someone doesn't really need all of you and themselves is peering at their phone, tablet or whatever. I guess I'm better off avoiding those people.

I find that the behaviour naturally reciprocates. When you're giving someone your undivided attention, they tend to find it difficult to be distracted without being acutely aware that they are being rude.

I agree with that, but it doesn't actually apply to the main situation described by OP, when nobody actually needed him, he was just killing time. It's odd that we bundled it with actually social situations such as having dinner with others.

He mentions that emails often end up occupying your mind for 30 minutes after reading them. If you're distracted and mulling over some problem that came from an email, you're not fully present.

I'm sure many have noticed this effect from reading email or news before bed. Often if I've been surfing or reading email too close to bedtime, the interesting issues and problems I've read about keep me awake for a long time.

Many people indulge in activities like like reading emails, tweeting, messaging etc. when they are with their friends and family having dinner or just hanging out. There are some people who do this even while watching movies with friends! Sometime it give a negative impression that they want to be left alone undisturbed. This is really a problem with current generation people. Please be present when you are with friends and family!

Oddly, I'm the other way around. I enjoy reading work emails while drinking beer with friends. It allows me a certain emotional distance to whatever problem has arisen and I can turn to my friends for help, and/or put the problems in the back of my head, sleep on them and deal with them in the morning.

> Do I have really such a short attention span that I must find a way to entertain myself for even two minutes?

I dislike this line of reasoning. He's not playing Words With Birds, he's checking e-mail and twitter to see if anyone is trying to contact him.

Is there some philosophical viewpoint that states that it is better to stare at a blank wall than to read your mail?

Yeah. I'm reminded of Schopenhauer's On Thinking for Oneself.

Reading an email or Twitter forces others' thoughts upon the mind, but when a man stares at a blank wall and thinks for himself, he follows the impulse of his own mind. A blank wall does not, as reading a tweet does, impress a single definite thought upon the mind.

Yes, there is: Zen Buddhism. In fact, zazen, the key practice of Zen, is most commonly practiced in front of a blank wall. Being present, being _really_ present, is Zen in its pure form.

I can’t do anything about them. If a client needs help I have to wait until I am back at a computer

Sounds like a problem with your phone.

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