Think about the last thing you did that made you feel really good?

What was special about it?

Most people I ask this question answer with the resultant accomplishment or achievement related to whatever event they are thinking about. Let’s take a fictitious example; someone might say, “I enjoyed my last run. It was special because I completed 10 miles.”

There is nothing wrong with this answer and I believe it’s important to celebrate accomplishment. However, now, go back to that event or action, and describe it without using some sort of productivity or accomplishment associated with it. You cannot use an outcome as a means of ascribing value to it.

Get’s difficult right?

What am I getting at? We tend to value productivity over presence. We want to extract takeaways from actions and events like: “I had…”, “I did…”, “I got…”. Instead of the desire to immerse in moments and experiences, we are all too ready to define our life in basic terms.

To continue with our example from above, maybe the significance of that last run was it allowed connection with nature or moments of mental clarity. Only if you are present, can you catch these wonderful experiences.

TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about presence. One of my favorite quotes is from Walt Whitman: “We convince by our presence.” The ability to be present and engaged with the turbulent twists of life – rather than a mere passenger of happenstance – is not trivial!

The title of this blog, the Sunday Surgical Scrub, is dedicated to a ceremonious time of clarity. From the blog introduction above, “Before each and every case, a surgeon scrubs and disinfects his hands. At the same time, he or she becomes solely focused on the task at hand – preparing to navigate a complex surgical path – and ready to confront any difficulties that lie ahead.” The scrub is a moment of reflection to remind the surgeon to be present in the moments that lie ahead.

Unfortunately, too many times, we lose the connection to presence. A common example I see is simple conversations. You will notice that people will speak and, as soon as they stop speaking, they focus on what they will say next rather than listening. The other person does it as well. Is the point of the conversation to conduct some sort of business (productivity) or an opportunity for engagement (presence)?

Look out for all too easy trap of productivity. Efficiency and productivity are cornerstones of success but make sure you are producing relevant outcomes. Pause and ask yourself what it is that you want out of an action or interaction. More often than not, you will find that presence in a simple conversation, a parenting action, a commitment to a cause has great worth and impact than a trivial takeaway.


MEDICINE & MACULA: Thank you Tina and The Morning Blend for having me as a guest this past week! I had a wonderful time on the show and continue to be humbled and excited about all the interest in Decision Diagnosis.

You can watch the interview here.


GRATIS: Happy Mother’s Day! Resiliency I learned from my grandmother. Kindness and unyielding support I absorbed from my mother. Every day, I am lucky to witness the virtues of patience and grace in the mother of my children


My best to you,

David Almeida

One Comment, RSS

  1. ana sanka May 14, 2017 @ 7:59 am

    Thanks Dr. David. As usual, I really like the article you wrote but, most of all, is your final thought about your grand mother and your mother that made me feel good. This recognition will make them even more special. Thank you and have yourself a wonderful week.
    Sincerely, Ana Sanka

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