The Catalyst Newsletter

Why is it so hard to be present in the moment?

Published 29 days ago • 1 min read

A weekly newsletter to help you reach your potential and make a difference in the world.

Despite its popularity, being present is hard to practice.

Last summer my family visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art while on vacation in NYC. A vast museum representing a treasure trove of world history, the Met is a wonder to behold, and our visit didn’t disappoint.

During our trip, it just so happened that the museum was featuring over 40 works from Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite impressionist painters. The exhibit included two of his most famous paintings, Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night. Painted during the last year of his life after self-admitting himself to Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Rémy, they are truly magnificent.

I even bought a 1000-piece puzzle of Wheat Field with Cypresses, but so far I’ve only completed about 15-20% of it!

I had seen The Starry Night once before, close up and without glass, at an art museum in New Haven, CT.

It is breathtaking.

When viewing it up close, you actually see the imperfections—small white spots where the canvas showed through.

Seeing it this time was much different. It was mobbed with people, only they weren't even looking at it.

They were so intent on taking pictures of The Starry Night on their phones that they never even stopped to see the painting through their own eyes.

I was stunned. How could taking a picture of a masterpiece be a substitute for seeing it with your own eyes?

The value of photography and artistry is not lost on me, but this wasn't that.

I’m also fairly certain most of the pictures on their phones were never looked at again. Think about how often you scroll through the hundreds (or even thousands) of images on your phone.

I know mindfulness and being “present” is all the rage right now. Some form of it is a part of every major religion, even secularism.

But despite its popularity, being present is hard to practice.

That's because it takes work and intentionality.

What’s one way you could be more present in your life this week? Write it down and practice it in the next 24-48 hours.

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