Contrary to what you might believe, personal magnetism has nothing to do with how you look or act. No, it’s all about how you “show up” in this world.
—See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World—
What I’m about to share with you is a proven and powerful way to instantly (no hype here) change the way people see you; and once you learn and consistently incorporate this insight, people can’t help but be magnetically attracted to you. Imagine what this will do for your relationships, career and self-confidence. And the first step to having this secret work for you begins with reading the next 1,156 words very, very carefully—without any distractions whatsoever…
No One Is Paying Attention
This next part shouldn’t surprise you at all: no one really pays full attention anymore. We are all too busy dealing (barely) with our collective anxiety about the future, and striving to be incredibly distracted so we don’t have to think about whatever causes that anxiety—things most of us can’t even identify. And a large part of our culture conspires to keep us distracted in myriad ways via digital devices, entertainment, drugs, hooking up, parties etc. Worry about future things we can hardly name is the very definition of anxiety. Is it really any wonder why more people are prescribed mood-altering drugs than ever before?
Now, this is where it gets interesting. As long as you play that game (i.e. not paying attention because of worry, distraction etc.) you will never break free from this “prison” of frustration, limitations and frankly, even really being “seen” by others. And this fact provides a hint to the way out…
The Art of Being Fully Present
When someone is not paying attention or is distracted, they are not “present” because their mind is simply somewhere else. And here’s the thing, others sense this at some level (usually subconsciously) and therefore treat you the same. So here we are, in this vast sea of people going about our day working, eating, playing and relating (sort of) while no one is truly paying attention.
Have you ever met someone who made you feel like you were the most important person in the world when talking to them? If you were fortunate to run into someone like this I bet you felt very comfortable and quite attracted to their presence. I’m not talking about narcissistic manipulation or empty flattery. Instead, someone who has really mastered what it means to be fully present with anyone they happen to meet—which, by the way, is the antithesis of narcissism. In fact, they don’t even have to say much at all, you simply feel the authenticity of their undivided and deep awareness of who you are as a human being. The good news is anyone can have this level of connection with others, no matter who they are or their circumstances.
Now, what if you choose to pay attention to everything and everyone you encounter during your day? What does that even mean? It essentially means that instead of living in your head wrestling with the past or worrying about the future, you practice just being fully aware, of everything in the here and now. And this kind of awareness can be instantly attained by simply being “present,” as a keen observer of everything you encounter.
Let me give you some examples:
- Your significant other – next time you are in their presence, simply be the observer of what they say, do or even feel. No reaction, no thinking ahead of the best way to respond, no concern of what they may think of you. Try this and you will find they will start to “change.” What is actually happening is you provided a safe space for them to be authentic, effectively mirroring the same trait they see in you when you are fully present for them. And trust me on this, when they do that, your relationship will see whole new levels of connection and intimacy.
- Your co-workers – most places of work, no matter how friendly, can still harbor Machiavellian intent within certain individuals or even entire departments. This is usually a result of fear-based zero-sum thinking: i.e. “If someone else advances, I lose.” This hardly makes for a fulfilling career experience. Next time you go to work, just be the observer when it comes to other people’s behavior and emotions no matter how threatening or repulsive. Be fully present for them even if they come off as conniving or backstabbing. This doesn’t mean you don’t take measures to protect yourself. There is a big difference between be proactive and reactive. The key is to stay out of your head and not react, just observe dispassionately. Do this and you may find your career to be much more fulfilling, but probably likely to advance more quickly.
- Strangers – how truly present are you for the person who checks out your groceries, or the one who bags them? How about people standing in the same line as you. I swear, most people act as if other people they encounter were simply placeholders necessary to move their life along. Either a means to an end or just in the way. Next time you are at a checkout, practice being fully present and aware of the people in line and in particular, the person who is serving you. You may find they smile a bit brighter for you as they react to the “space” of genuine awareness you created for them. And you may find yourself smiling a bit more as well. Just last week I was in grocery store in the checkout line. As my turn came up I distinctly remember practicing to be fully present. What surprised me was the fellow next in line spontaneously struck up a friendly conversation. Despite the fact we didn’t know each other, we had a real (albeit, brief) connection. This never happens to me when I’m in my head because people sense at some level that I’m not really there.
- Nature – next time you walk in nature, do it as a fully present observer. My partner and I do this all the time and we are astounded at just how more beautiful this world is from the perspective of being fully aware without mental labeling or chatter. This helps us connect with nature and its beauty far more deeply than anything we have ever done before.
It’s Simple, but Not Easy
It takes practice and discipline to be fully and dispassionately present for everyone and everything you encounter throughout the day. Fears will undoubtedly creep in from time to time, which may break your space of being fully present. If that happens, practice being aware of that, then move back into that space of non-reactive awareness once again. You see, even being aware of your lack of full awareness can help you here. The cool thing is that once you are “aware” of the power of being fully present and aware, you will always have access to it.
This is one of my most important personal life disciplines. I can honestly say it has profoundly changed my life and that of those around me. And coming from someone who was about aware as a doorknob for the first 60 years of his life, I’d say your odds of having the same experience should you choose to have it, are pretty darn good.
Author’s Note: a wonderful and practical book to help you access being fully present is called The Presence Process by Michael Brown—I highly recommend it.
This article was originally published with the Good Men Project; republished with the author’s full (and kindest) permission.