I’m hearing people talk a lot recently about being “present.” You know when you’re present. How do you know? Because you feel joyful for absolutely no reason at all. Because you’re not thinking about the past or the future (that’s the definition, silly rabbit, you’re in the present moment).

Here’s my quick list of do’s and don’ts:

How not to be present: Think. Interpret. Analyze. Judge. Try this, try that. Judge some more.

How to be present: Feel. Be.

(One of the easiest ways to increase your presence is to track your feelings — “I feel elated, I feel nervous, I feel excited, I feel overwhelmed….” for a powerful presence tool, see www.cnvc.org.)

How not to be present: Say to yourself “I think that guy is hitting on me.” It’s a judgment and an interpretation. It takes you out of the moment.

How to be present: “I feel uncomfortable. Part of me really wants to bolt right now. I wonder how he is feeling? What is he wanting right now? How could I connect with him and find out?”

How not to be present: Getting pissed off at the thermostat in your office. Complaining to anyone who will listen. Noticing (if you even bother to notice) that it’s getting worse rather than better.

How to be present: Noticing the air conditioner in your office. Noticing your discomfort with its sound. (“I feel annoyed.”) Becoming one with the air conditioner. Noticing how it adjusts to just the right tempo when you become one with it. (“Ahhh…” :-)

How not to be present: Ask yourself “where is this going to lead? Will he be my next boyfriend? Are we going to have sex? Will I know him a year from now?”

How to be present: “I feel happy. I feel connected. I feel his eyes looking into mine.” I think [nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing].

How not to be present: Endless mind chatter. Anxiety. Fear about the future. Guilt about the past. Chatter, chatter, chatter.

How to be present: Silence. More silence. More silence. Blank blank blank. Happy for no reason. :-)