LINE ON LIFE

6/23/96

Be Here Now! *

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Would you like to have the secret of a sure-fire method to do better work and get more done? There are no coupons to send in, and it won't even cost you a dime!

The essence of this secret is summarized in three little words "Be here now!" "Be here now" means that you need to do what you're doing when you're doing it you need to be where you are when you are there. You need to pay attention to what is happening what you are doing here and now. It is a very simple concept, but it is often hard to do.

Talking to ourselves causes this difficulty. We have a little voice in our head that rarely keeps quiet. If you doubt me, close your eyes and concentrate on what is going on in your head. Try it now.

You may have thought, "What little voice? I don't hear a little voice." These thoughts are your little voice. This little voice is one aspect the verbal component of your thinking.


To know if you are paying attention,
just listen to your inner voice.


If you really concentrate while you are reading, you can hear your little voice saying the words as you read them. Listen carefully. The same is true when you listen to someone talk. If you are really listening to that person, you say what they are saying a fraction of a second after they do. Next time someone talks to you, listen to yourself listening.

That little voice tells us if we are here and now. As long as this voice is talking about what is going on the task at hand we are concentrating. We are very likely to accomplish what we need to do. However, we often allow that voice to get off the track.

As you're reading this article, your little voice might say: "Yeh, I remember when my toy train went off the track and broke. Uncle Bill fixed it for me. Uncle Bill was really nice. I wonder what he's doing now." Although it is not wrong to think about Uncle Bill, it certainly does not help whatever task you are doing at the time. Beside Uncle Bill, it could be anything a test you took yesterday, a weekend date, a bargain sale that ends today.

Your little voice also could be doing unproductive thinking about the task at hand. "Why do I have to do this? It's not going to help anyway. Besides, I have other things that I would much rather do." (Then the voice would probably go back to that date or the sale.)

If you do this, don't get angry at yourself. It happens to all of us. If you get angry with yourself, all the little voice will do is continue to distract you. However, this time it will just be telling you how incompetent you are, because you're not completing what needs to be done.

How can you deal with your wandering? Accept it. You can say, "Here's that thought again." Accept it as part of being human, and then gently turn to the task at hand. Some distracting thought is almost certain to occur again. Just become aware of what has happened, and lead yourself to the task again the here and now.

All we ever have is here and now. It is hard for most of us to accept is that we do not have a future or a past. The past exists in our memories, but only when we bring those memories to the here and now. A memory is not a memory, unless that little voice is discussing it now. Remember Uncle Bill? Until you think about him here and now, he isn't even a memory.

Saying that we do not have a future, some people think, "Hurrah, it's party time no more responsibilities or commitments!" What we are saying that the only time we have to do anything is now. For example, you can think, daydream, speculate, fantasize, or plan about tomorrow. You cannot do anything tomorrow until tomorrow becomes now.

Your goals will determine what you need to do in the here and now. Most goals cannot be achieved without actions here and now without preparation. Most of us want to earn a lot of money. We have to devise some method to get this goal, like gaining skills that will help us in the job market. Obtaining these skills become sub-goals, which require actions to reach them getting on-the-job training, becoming an apprentice, going to a trade school or college.

Some people are rarely in the here and now. These are the "I can't wait until..." people. They rarely enjoy or pay attention to what they are doing now, but merely hope for a better time. "I can't wait until I (move away, go to college, graduate, get a job, get promoted, retire)." They rarely enjoy today, because they are just looking at tomorrow but doing very little about tomorrow in the here and now.

To help you do something now about your future, some courses at AWC can help greatly College Survival, Study Skills, Vocational Exploration, Decision Making. They can help you to develop basic skills for school, your job, and your whole life. Some modules of these courses are still available for this Fall semester. Register for them now.


* Adapted from David B. Ellis' Becoming a Master Student, College Survival, Inc., 1985, pages 56-57, the text used in the College Survival course at AWC.

Go back to "A Line on Life" page.