Stop, Notice, Pay Attention

"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle." ~ Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist

In the cartoon, Baby Blues, Mother lists tons of little things to remember – things like bring cupcakes, how her picky son wants his lunch made, and a doctor’s appointment to take one of the kids to. The incredulous Dad asks, "How do you keep all that information in your head, and still have room for all the other stuff?" Her answer, "What other stuff?"

A Life Half Lived

I see so many people living life from one routine thing to another and forgetting that there is more to life then errands, cleaning and work. When life gets overfilled, people stop paying attention to their surroundings, their feelings, their needs, and other people.

Conversations are half listened to. Driving is routine unless a close call brings you back to attention. As one task is being done, ten others tasks are in your mind. We can stay in our heads so much, that we forget to look at the outside world. And our world becomes boring or we start to feel numb.

Staying Numb

Sometimes people stay busy so they don’t have to pay attention. If they paid attention they might realize they are dissatisfied, hurt, or not living the life they want. They want to pretend and make believe everything is how they want it or at least that they are too busy to do anything about it.

It’s easier than changing. Changing habits. Changing jobs. Quitting things that make you feel prestigious but aren’t fulfilling. But, if we can wake up to our life we could live a fulfilling, passionate, purposeful life.

Noticing

How much of your day are you actually paying attention to what you are doing? To stay in the present more, one of my clients snaps a rubber band when her mind wanders to the past or future. I have a little note on my monitor reminding me that the time is now.

Paying attention doesn’t take much time. Try using little moments in your day to notice. Take a 10 second break to look out the window and observe what is outside. Take 5 minutes to really listen and connect with someone. Take a few seconds between projects and ask yourself how you are feeling and what you need.

Making Life Better

As you notice, if you discover things that need changing, make little changes. You notice you feel better with grapefruit and oatmeal than a donut for breakfast, eat less donuts. You notice something on the floor, quickly pick it up and put it away. You don’t have to make massive changes to make your life better.

In fact just noticing your life will make it better. Your life will feel more colorful as you take a close look at nature and your surroundings. Your relationships will be deeper as you listen more intently. Your work will go faster because you are focusing your full attention on it. And sometimes you will find that just looking at something will bring you joy.

Ideas for Paying Attention

  • Take a walk and engage in your surroundings
  • Hold someone’s hand and feel the texture and the temperature
  • Wash dishes by hand noticing the feel of the water and playing with the bubbles
  • Look at the stars at night
  • Listen to your thoughts as they ramble in your head
  • Go to a market and smell the produce in the air
  • Savor your food
  • Journal about something you noticed today

As author SARK says, "Live Juicy!"

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