Be Present – Brett Kelly

Be Present

2113748685_94f891caf2_bAbout a week ago, I was sitting at my usual bar, having a drink with a friend. As we sat there, I found my mind wandering to all sorts of different things: work I needed to do, my kids, etc. Important things, sure, but things unrelated to the current activity. I was anxious about the thoughts that distracted me, even though I had decided, by agreeing to meet the friend I sat with, that I wasn’t going to do anything about them for awhile.

So, I sat back, took a sip of my drink, and looked across the table at my friend and said to myself:

Be here, now.

Sounds pretty simple. And it is, really.

But if you’re anything like me, it doesn’t take more than a moment or two for my mind to run away down some rabbit hole involving work, responsibility, and similar adult things. As often as it occurs to me, I have to give myself deliberate instructions to focus on what’s happening right in front of me.

There will always be problems and parts of life that need your attention. There will always be something else you should be doing that you’re not.

It’s about maintaining perspective.

Whispering that little exhortation to myself didn’t just jar me back into the moment. I also became aware that the person across the table from me was giving of his time to spend time with me. He cares about me and I care about him. We’re doing that quality time thing that friends do and that everybody’s always so hopped up about.

Anxiety about work, my insecurities as a parent, the sink full of dishes — it was all there when my pal and I wrapped up for the evening. Nothing exploded and I walked away from our friendly visit glad that I could call this guy a pal.

Here in the US, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Most of my fellow Americans and I will be stuffing our faces full of too much food, falling asleep on the couch at 4pm, and quietly hoping Uncle Jimbo takes it easy on the wine this year.

If you find yourself getting antsy or bored or cranky, I’d humbly suggest that you stop, take a breath, and look around the room.

Chances are, you’ll be near somebody you don’t see very often. Talk to that person.

If you’re staring at a football game and don’t really care much for football, ask the football fan in the room a question about football.

That weird Uncle? Think of something you don’t know about him and ask him about it.

You get the idea.

Wherever you are, be fully there. Be present.

None of life’s challenges are going anywhere, trust me.

(Photo courtesy of Rhett Sutphin)

Join 25,000 Smart People...

If you enjoyed this post, I'll let you know that my email newsletter is where the real fun is. Productivity wit and wisdom, not too long, and always a good time.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 38 comments
Jim Atherton

A Zen saying: when I am walking, I am walking; when I am eating, I am eating. It simply means that when you’re walking, enjoy the fact, instead of planning what you’re going to do about the rent payment for what you should have said during yesterdays discussion on politics. Now is the only moment you have-live in it. Someone said, “thank God we only live one moment at a time-we couldn’t handle anymore than that.” – from Walt Stanchfield’s book “Drawn to Life.” Thanks for the reminder, have a great Thanksgiving!


I hope this can now be my mantra: “My present to myself is being present to you.”

Thanks for discussing this. We all need to do this, and so few of us do. We’re so driven by the need “to do” that we forget how “to be”. Have a wonderful holiday!


Oh Brett, your message is perfect. I even believe at work the most important person is the one you are speaking with. Be Present. When going out to dinner my son and his friends throw their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to answer a call, respond to a text, pays for dinner for all. Be Present. At the Thanksgiving table it is even more important than ever before. Be Present. Be thankful for those around us, for those who are not at the table, for those in the world that need our prayers. Be Present. Brett, I wish you a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.


A great reflection and an important reminder Brett – thanks for sharing it…

Kent Bliven

Excellent advice, Brett. It should go without saying but life always seems to get in the way and reminders like this are always helpful and needed. Have a great Thanksgiving!


So you discovered mindfulness 🙂 Great!


Dear Bret,
what a good statement and wise words you wrote. We celebrate thanksgiving also over here in the Netherlands, but I think we’re maybe the only one over here.
We will be with you in spirit, God bless you!
Frank & Rebekah


Well said Brett! A great reminder.

Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours and many thanks to you for all the great ideas, thoughts, and suggestions you bring to us throughout the year.


Thanks for this article! It really resonates and is such an important reminder for tomorrow and every day!


Nice article Brett. I definitely need to pay more attention to this. It’s all too easy to let your mind wander off and it’s incredibly unproductive as you’re not really focusing well on the thing you’re thinking about OR the person you’re with. Double whammy of waster time!


Thank you for the “Be Present” Actually LISTENING is just one of my weaknesses


A lovely reminder for this time of year. Often holidays can be just something to get through and many folks are not “present” on these days. But to get our focus off ourselves and connect with other humans is a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing this …


That’s a great, timely reminder. Thanks!


Excellent reminder, and just in time, too. So easy to let too much of life slip away. Thanks, Brett.


My wife and I have lived in my mother-in-law’s home for the last 5 1/2 years to provide care for her. She suffers from dementia, which prevents her from being “present.” We grieve at her loss, yet it is so easy to allow “social and relational dementia” to rob me of being “present” with others. How sad that I allow this to rob me of so many special moments with people. Whatever demands that capture my mental attention when I am sitting next to someone are most often of far less value than enjoying a relationship with someone whom life has provided an opportunity to know more deeply. So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I thank you for this very timely reminder to be “present” tomorrow when friends and family surround me.


Thanks for this excellent reminder. With seemingly an endless number of balls in the air at one time, it is very easy to grab a thought or otherwise let your mind wander. The holiday season is a great time for this post; I didn’t realize it fully until a little later in life when looking back at pictures or videos of past holidays. Not everybody who was right there, with you, in the same room, is there anymore. Or the situation is different. Young children grow up and those oh so cute moments and pictures are now different; they’re older now. Not necessarily bad but just different. Some people move away or even pass away or get afflicted with a disease that leaves them totally different than we remembered them from before. Times change ever so fast. I need to take more time to live in the present, today. They may be different tomorrow or next holiday season.

I’m taking your advice; Be here, now!


Thanks for the reminder Kelly. Life is busy enough that it doesn’t hurt to stop and make space for the people in our lives right now.


Your comments are right on point Brett. Mindfulness is ancient wisdom with modern application in all of life. The things we think about while the present is happening before us are really distractions from appreciating what life has to offer!


I have heard this before and it made me stop and think about my relationships.

I am glad you brought this to the forefront, especially at this time of the year when we all feel so “stressed” and overworked.

Time to just BE THERE or others and them see what it does for you!

Kent HAlves

So simple and so true. Thanks


Nice article Brett. I guess this is along the lines of the ‘mindfullness’ movement that seems to be on a lot of peoples radar these days. We do all need to slow down and smell the roses, don’t we. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this …..

Cheers from sunny CAnberra, Australia


Here here, put down your phones, or better yet turn it off, and enjoy good company, all 25 of them in our case.
Best wishes all.


With your posts I find that it’s not the what that makes them so wonderfully insightful (here referring to THE main theme meditation practice revolves around) but the backdrop and care while making the point, the how.
I feel as what you described will get a proportionally bigger issue the more information our senses will be bombarded in the not too distant future. You aim for the meta-theme: taking responsibility of ones perspective and utilizing the resulting freedom.
Thank You for giving!

Elizabeth Westmark

Thanks for this simple, elegant piece.

This year I’m committing what would constitute heresy among my late Southern mother and grandmothers: buying an already cooked turkey and some sides rather than making everything myself. Oh, I’m still making the traditional Hopkins Boarding House squash casserole and tipsy triple cranberry sauce, but that’s it. All in the service of spending time with visiting kids and grandkids talking, walking the woods, and being fully present.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanks for the reminder, will keep it in mind tomorrow when my sons come over for dinner. I don’t see them too often and it will be a great time to catchup with them.


Thanks Brett, Great reminder. Have a happy Thanksgiving! ~ Steve


Great Advice Brett.

Michael Geiger

Brett… this is so heartfelt and wonderful. Thank you. It is perfect.


Your thoughts on “being present” are spot-on and much appreciated. Our culture of tech extravaganza encourages my ADD tendencies, and sometimes it takes a conscious effort to re-focus on the relationships that should be our priorities.

GiuseppeDella Chiesa

Well said !

Debra Friend

What a nice post, Brett. Reading it “the day after” helped me put some family interactions into perspective, and reminded me that focussing on the now is always an important practice.


Food for thought !


I agree wholeheartedly! Now more than ever we have to be purposefully present in the moment.


Really Nice!
Thank you.


Hi Brett

Be here now. Surprisingly simple to conceive but ultimately difficult to realise when blessed/cursed with our monkey minds. Those nagging thoughts about house repairs, spending time with my kid, catching up on study, migrating those websites at work, yearning for more time for music hobbies and getting some relax me time all jump in to disrupt the present. I suppose if I was more ninja at GTD and everything was in its right place I may be on to a winner, however my idea of right time and place for stuff often doesn’t align with other stakeholder (e.g. son, wife, boss, peers).

Happy Thanksgiving



Fantastic post Brent and very timely given the holiday season abound! It’s so easy to get caught up in the to-dos and haven’t yets… while missing the present moments, each of which we are blessed to have.

I’m grateful for writers and entrepreneurs like you that remind us of these things. Keep up the good stuff:)


Giuseppe beat me to it!
Ditto to that!!! “Well said” – thank you!!!


There is a whole philosophy about being present which I thoroughly recommend.
Google Eckhart Tolle either watch some of his videos or buy his book called, “Practising the Power of Now.” I have personally benefited from this.

Good luck,



Leave a Reply: