The Power of Presence in An Age of Distraction

Picture or it didn’t happen, right? Maybe not. What does it mean to be present? Celebrity chef and co-founder of Wellevatr Jason Wrobel has some ideas.

Jason Wrobel is a past Wanderlust teacher, and, with Whitney Lauritsen, the co-founder of Wellevatr. Wellevatr’s mission is to help you get out of your own way, focus on what truly matters and make healthier choices that lead to sustainable results so you can feel more joyful, confident, loving and fulfilled. Through focused, intimate, heart-centered and effective strategies, we help people improve their overall wellbeing in every aspect of life—mentally, physically and spiritually—through powerful mindset practices to elevate their lives and unlock their inner super powers. For more information and to join the movement, click here
A funny thing happened on Instagram recently. One of the most popular wellness influencers on the platform decided to document her entire birthing process, from having major contractions, to driving to the hospital in a rushed panic with her husband in the car to the actual moment of giving birth... and beyond. It was absolutely fascinating to watch someone document a moment that is easily one of the most intimate, sacred, and rare occasions in a human lifetime. However, there was something about her energy and approach to documenting the process that left me feeling icky inside. There was an energy of self-aggrandizement and showmanship that didn’t feel like it was coming from an authentic place. These Instagram Stories stirred up some serious emotions for me and elicited a visceral reaction in my heart. It seems as those there’s nothing off-limits on social media in terms of what people are sharing these days. It begs the question: what elements of life do we choose to keep private and what do we choose to share publicly? Is everything fair game? Why do we feel the need to share everything, all the time? I sat with these questions and came to another question: just because we can share the most intimate, sacred details of our life—does that mean we should share them? And moreover, what are we energetically giving up in our lives in exchange for public attention, online notoriety and cultural significance?
What elements of life do we choose to keep private and what do we choose to share publicly? Is everything fair game?
This small, microcosmic moment of an influencer documenting her birth process on Instagram begs a very important question as we consider the macro implications of our time and energy investments on social media: If you are documenting everything, can you be fully present to anything?

Capturing a moment vs. living a moment

In the pursuit of capturing or documenting a moment, it means that you can’t actually be fully present or embodied IN that moment. Your focus is on trying to capture and document, rather than fully experiencing the nuances, the feelings, the intricacies and the emotions in the moment itself. This is particularly concerning in a digital age where everyone is sharing their lives, including intimate details about death, birth, life, loss and everything in between. But what’s motivating this behavior? It’s easy enough just to flag the rampant narcissism that our society celebrates and point fingers at the vapid pursuit of Internet notoriety, but there’s far more motivating this behavior that the surface-level pursuits of followers and fame. (Maybe it's time for a digital detox—or maybe it's just time to consider digital wellbeing. What's the difference? Click here.)

The Four Dual Basic Urges

There’s a psychological concept that attempts to explain the motives behind most human behavior called The Four Dual Basic Urges. Essentially, the distillation of this model says that humans are naturally drawn to try and attain certain aspects of life, while concurrently trying to avoid and resist others. These dual basic urges motivate virtually all human behavior and, indeed, we do need a certain amount of satiation of these urges for our own psychological and emotional wellbeing. The trick is to not let these urges run our lives; we need to give them attention in moderation and balance. On one side, we want to have pleasure, comfort, attention, and approval in our lives. As much as possible, thank you very much. Conversely, we do everything in our power to avoid experiencing pain, discomfort, rejection, and disapproval. These motivations are often subconscious, meaning we aren’t aware that they’re actually running the show. However, the simultaneous pursuit and avoidance of these urges are axiomatic, meaning the more we get one of our needs met, the more we get the opposite of what we try so desperately to avoid. This is the dualistic nature of human consciousness and the world that we have created for ourselves. For example: have you ever noticed that when someone gets super famous, they generally get a lot of love from the public, but also get a lot of hate? This is the duality of these urges in action. In order to be truly present and taste freedom, we must not allow ourselves to be ruled by the fervent, desperate need to placate these urges or avoid them at all costs. Also, there’s a huge benefit in the acceptance of pain, discomfort, rejection and disapproval when most of the people in this world are doing their best to move away from those experiences.
In order to be truly present, we must not allow ourselves to be ruled by—or avoid—these urges.
In nature, growth comes from the interplay between an initiating force and a resisting force. Much like seeds push up through the ground and the plants they become break through concrete to reach air and sunlight, we as humans need both an initiating and resisting force to grow to our highest potential. Unfortunately, most of us learn how to manipulate our environments to achieve a state of non-disturbance. The general attitude is like, “If I only get everything I want in life, then I’ll finally enjoy it. Nobody can take it away from me then.” It’s our illusory pursuits of security, control and certainty that help us avoid the very challenges of life that will help us grow and expand.

Practice presence.

In our culturally-approved and celebrated pursuit of pleasure, comfort, attention and approval, we can often lose sight of what really matters: being fully alive. This means not just sucking air, but being as present as possible to the beautiful, seemingly innocuous moments in our lives: An adorable housecat bathing in the sunshine, a cup of hot morning coffee while we look into the eyes of our lover, hearing our favorite song come on in the grocery store checkout line, or simply taking one more breath. There are an infinite number of sacred moments every single day to be present to the simple gifts of life. All too often though, when something wonderful or adorable happens, people unconsciously whip out their smartphones or cameras to capture the moment. I do it all the time (especially with my cats and my Frenchie!) But what if we, collectively, brought more presence to these moments and asked ourselves the question, “What’s more important here, getting a video or photo of this moment, or actually living it?” By simply noticing our automatic impulses to capture these moments, we can make a conscious choice of how present and engaged with it we want to be. There’s no right or wrong choice—just an opportunity to practice presence and fully receiving the moment. There’s one thing I have noticed in life and it’s this: The more present you can be in the moment, the more gratitude, awe, wonder and appreciation you can experience in that moment. Or, in other words: presence is a present, in and of itself. All we need to do is learn how to fully receive it. — Jason Wrobel 2019 Headshot Pink SuitJason Wrobel is a celebrity vegan chef, TV host and co-founder of Wellevatr, a high-performance wellness brand dedicated to helping you find the fun in your fear, discover the diamonds in discomfort and align with the innate greatness of your true being. Learn more at Wellevatr.com. Twitter Instagram YouTube Facebook