The Art of Noticing

Have you ever thought long and hard about Happiness, and Joy, and Contentment?  How to orchestrate more of it in your life?  How to create that big ***BANG*** of Jubilation right over your head?

There is information everywhere…Books, blogs, vlogs, pod casts, talk shows…on how to attempt this.  It was in a quiet conversation with a friend that I realized it didn’t come to me in that big way.  It came to me in little tiny bits. Sometimes so tiny they might go unnoticed if I wasn’t paying attention. Rarely do I get it from a grand event with lightning strikes or trumpets or fireworks. I am not the only one.  Have you ever observed that people who are happy in general delight in small and modest things?

It’s the art of noticing the small things- small children offering up help, seeing the beauty of your surroundings, feeling the comfort of a warm blanket- that when built one on top of another like bricks in a wall, make a sturdy foundation for Happiness.

The art of noticing is really about just paying attention. Many times when we are feeling blue or discouraged it is because we have tunnel vision and become trapped.  We have forgotten to look up and take notice.   The good news is that we can teach ourselves to notice.  We can practice.  And improve.  We can become a noticer.

Start Where You Are

Stop what you are doing for a minute and look around.  Do you see anything beautiful or interesting?  What about your other senses?  A good smell, a pleasing sound? Find something that makes you smile. Then find something else.  Every time discontentment wells up we can use it as a trigger to stop and notice what is good.  This does not mean we need to engage in Pollyanna like behavior.  Go ahead, feel bad, throw a pity party, but when it is over we need to look up and notice.

If we practice this over and over again, we will have eventually established a habit. Who doesn’t want to make a habit of finding things that make us smile? If you are smiling all the time how can you not be happy? (P.S.- It’s also contagious!)

Expand Your Circle

It only makes sense that if we create this habit of noticing what is going on in our environment that we will eventually start expanding it past our limited view point.  This requires a tiny bit more of an investment on our part.  It requires active attention in our everyday life.  The reason this is a bigger investment is because we have to make it not about us.  However, if we can witness those moments outside of ourselves it gives us hope that the world is a good and beautiful place.

It might look something like this:

*Overhearing a teenager expressing pride in a parent, even if it is in that “too cool for school” tone.

*Watching someone being helped by a stranger.

*Witnessing two children on the playground become friends.

*When the play is over but a player on the opposing team helps the fallen up.

*When burly, gruff, tough men help a duck/kitten/puppy/fawn/hamster out of a life threatening situation.

*When the naïve wisdom of a four year old puts a shocked adult in their place.

*Enjoying the site of an older couple who are still in love.

Digging Deep

There are occasions when even the most positive happy people have to really look hard to find something to smile about.  The preachers and proponents of Gratitude are not wrong.  There is no real ‘gratitude movement’ and it is not a fad.  It’s been mentioned in ancient texts.  It’s a universal truth.  Even in the worst of circumstances we have to really dig deep and find some small tiny piece of gratitude.

Most situations are not that dire but we still have to dig deep sometimes.  Do you hate inclement weather?  There are plenty of incidents to demonstrate all the evidence to hate it but what about its beauty- all those Kodak moments?  After an ice storm have you ever noticed how the trees glisten and sparkle like a glass sculpture?  Of course, it is easier to enjoy this sort of beauty from the safety and comfort of a warm home but it is still beautiful up close.

In the face of disasters have you seen the beauty of the strength of the human spirit?  When a mourner is able to extol the virtues of their loved one?  The rally of a community working together to form a solution?

Traumatic incidents will not make us happy but the finding the hidden kernel of gratitude will give us hope and translate it into our foundation of happiness.

The habit of noticing organically impacts our character. Click To Tweet

The Legacy of Noticing

The habit of noticing organically impacts our character.  If we notice beautiful, wonderful, kind things we become more positive and optimistic. If we notice need we grow in awareness. If we notice the ugly, the hate, and the lack you become more bitter and pessimistic.

We need to make a conscious decision about what/where we want to concentrate our observations and what we tune out. It will craft who we transform in to.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Just like any other art form, the art of noticing takes practice..  The more we do it the easier it will become. The more beauty we find the more beautiful the world will become.  The more cheerfulness and mirth we collect the more we have to give.  What can we accomplish if we look at finding the good in things?

Photo Credit: Simone Zucchelli

How do you practice the art of noticing?

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