“Be present.” It’s something we hear a lot, but what does it really mean? In a world full of instant gratification and hyper-connectivity on a global scale, one can’t help but question if we, as a society, have lost touch with the simplicity of human interaction. With my undergrad journey slowly coming to an end, I’ve chosen to invest my last few months at Ryerson to understand mindfulness – something I plan to carry forward into the professional world. Here’s how I’ve attempted to do so.
1. Refocus on the present
Make the most out of your daily interactions. Whether it’s starting a short conversation with the cashier at the coffee shop (during down time of course!), or reaching out to professors after class about their experiences. Set small goals to talk to someone new every day, or to make someone smile. Approaching interactions with people with a genuine sense of curiosity is a great way to enjoy the simplicity of human contact beyond our mobile devices.
2. How you do the small things is how you do everything
This is something I believe holds a lot of truth. As a student, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of submitting assignments that aren’t worth as much with minimal effort, or sitting at the back of the class in a course you might not be as engaged in.
Getting into this habit can really jeopardize your professionalism. Instead, aim to have integrity in all the work you submit. This doesn’t mean spending ten hours on an assignment that should only take you two, but rather ensuring that your engagement and work are indicative of your work ethic and showcase your strengths. This is one way you can develop and maintain integrity.
3. You are your biggest competition
This is something that is much easier said that done, but once understood, it can open up amazing opportunities. Competition is a strong motivator for a lot of people. However, competition with others is a slippery slope that can sometimes lead to lower self-esteem.
It’s easy to evaluate our success by comparing it to that of others, but it is important to realize that there may always be someone smarter than you. Instead, strive to outdo yourself, set your previous work as the competition to beat, and accomplish your goals and set new and more challenging ones.
A famous proverb says, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” I believe this is how students continue to learn beyond their undergrad years, and set aside their ego and pride to make room for further growth and knowledge.
4. Well-roundedness is a myth – Find your superpower and run with it
We all have a unique set of qualities that make us who we are and distinguish us from a crowd. Just figuring out what those qualities are is difficult and can take a lifetime to truly understand. Rather than focusing on our shortcomings, refocus on your strengths and how you can leverage them.
I began to understand my individuality when I started reading more about personality theory and psychology. I started with taking the Myers Briggs personality test. It was a great way to confirm things I already knew about myself. And it also goes a step further by analyzing your strengths and how your personality can influence what type of work you find most satisfying, how you respond to conflict, and so much more. Attempting to understand yourself with the same rigor you apply to your academics is a great way to become more self-aware and to better understand how you can stand out from a crowd.
Ultimately, when we strive to outdo ourselves, be present, and have integrity in everything that we do, we can enjoy the process of self-discovery perhaps more than the satisfaction of success.