A Second in the Present

December 16, 2012 — 10 Comments

Go out for a run right now. Even though you don’t want to.

Feel the bite of the cold. Or the drag of the heat.

Stay with the struggle. Stay with it.

Run parallel to the river. Stay steady against the harsh wind of passing cars on the freeway. Or cut through the glass and steel skyscraper canyon. Roll through the hills and their dark, quiet houses.

Turn the music way up. So you can’t hear anything else. Hit the back button a few times in a row on the same song. Don’t let the mind wonder. Don’t let it think or do anything. Just be. For a second, or a minute or as long as you can.

The point is to be reminded of the immensity. Feel unprotected against the elements or forces or surroundings. Remind yourself how pointless it seems to complain about problems. You may have felt out of sync before, but now you’ve experienced flow, you’ve connected by disconnecting.

Let the feeling carry as long as you can. Then go out and do it again.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

10 responses to A Second in the Present

  1. James Altucher has this tactic where he looks at the rooftops–which have some architectural finesse–to stay in the present as he walks. Mind wandering makes you sad. Do you still write in your head while you run, or do you try your best to just be there?

  2. Gold. Thanks for the present.

    Happy Holiday Season Everybody

  3. This post reminds me of Ram Dass’ Be Here Now. It’s kind-of a spacy book centered around the idea of remaining mindful and accepting wherever you are and what is happening to you. I’d recommend it for the great quotes and the interesting middle section full of odd drawings and sayings that could be mistaken as chants taken from a cult ritual. (Ram Dass was the guy Richard Feynman went to when trying to hallucinate in sensory deprivation tanks.)

    Along the same lines, it seems that a lot of people get carried away with the idea of “accepting your lot” and use it as an excuse for stagnation or laziness. I like that you stress this acceptance but also stress that this acceptance accompanies action.

  4. I’d rather lie in my bed, feeling the deep relaxation, my tummy purring after a delicious pizza, I feel the pillow, the softness of my pillow beneath my head. I hear the cars outside- vroom Vroom, but inside I am safe, oo I feel so safe and just for one moment for one little moment I feel an expansiveness, me and the bed become one as my favourite program starts to play on the tv

  5. Damn Ryan, you had me nodding my head in agreement up until you turned up the music. Leave the music at home and tune into your breathing, your heartbeat, or your footfalls. Tune in to what is around you; the honking horns, the police sirens, the wind in the trees, the birds chirping. If the aim is to truly “be in it,” why would you ever cut yourself off from one of your senses?

  6. My favorite activities for engaging the present:

    Running
    Snowboarding (w blues music in the headphones)
    Backpacking/Hiking

    I’ve probably spent hudreds of hours in each activity but if you ask me to think about “running” my brain will immediately go to that one moment when I felt most present doing it.

    Thanks for the post Ryan!

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