When was the last time you were really aware of your surroundings? Were you traveling to a new place? A restaurant you always wanted to try? A vacation spot you were going to for the first time? What did you notice? Interesting architecture, beaches, forests, street signs, and famous landmarks?
When we are experiencing new things, we usually have a heightened sense of awareness. Over time though things that we now have become familiar with seem to just blend all together and we may miss little changes. As an example, I mentioned that the clock in my gym was new and when I pointed it out to others who were working out, they were surprised that they did not notice it as well.
It is acceptable to be in our own little worlds but this can be a problem when we interact frequently with others. Communications break down, conflict erupts, feelings get hurt, and negativity can seep into the workplace, home, school, or other places that people gather. We may not even be aware that we are not paying attention to their words or actions until the other person points it out – usually in anger.
So how does one become more aware? It may seem easy enough but it actually takes some practice. Start with a simple exercise. When you take your shower in the morning, really pay attention to what you are doing and try not to think about all the things you have to do that day. As you lather your hair, smell the shampoo and feel your fingers massage into your scalp. Listen to how the water changes sound as you move around your shower. Notice how the soap feels in your hands as you wash your body. Although this may only be a five minute exercise, many will find it tough to do.
As you become more sensitive to what is going on around you, try to tune in more to the people you work with or your family. As you enter the office building, pay attention to what others are doing. Look to see if some are smiling or have frowns on their faces. Once you get to your office, try to figure out if there is anything new with the people you work with. It could be that a coworker is wearing a new outfit or piece of jewelry or they got a haircut. It could also be that they seem tired, happy, or upset. Once you zero in on something, comment to that person. It could be as simple as “you seem very happy today” or “is that a new ring? I really like it.” Watch for their reaction and really process it.
The next step then is to be more aware of how you behave. As you become more perceptive of others and now your own behaviors, you should be able to have more meaningful relationships with others which results in a more cohesive work environment and/or a more harmonious home life.