How closely do you observe?

magnolia1Do you pay attention to the things around you or do you get so focused on whatever task you are working on that you zone out and see only that?

It’s easy to do. That’s been me in the past. And it’s a real shame to be that way and miss the richness around us every day.

I’m learning to observe.

One thing that has helped has been my choice of “JOURNEY” as one of my three focus words for the year (read more here). By paying more attention to the journey than the final destination, I’m enjoying a range of experiences I would have missed in the past.

But the other thing that is making me more observant, especially when I run, is the fact that I am part of an organization called “I Run 4”  (click here for more info).

I Run 4 Bennett. I dedicate every run, walk and workout to this incredible little boy who is my inspiration. Bennett has Down syndrome, and I’ve never met him, but his parents and I have become friends as part of I Run 4 and now I am Bennett’s running mom. Talk about an honor!

Each time I run, I post on the private Facebook group that I ran X miles for Bennett, and then maybe mention something I saw while I was running. Well, that’s been an adjustment for me to even look up and pay attention when I run.

But what a welcome change it has been. I have the privilege of running in an area where there is a wealth of wildlife, and I regularly see bunnies, deer and all manner of birds, but I’ve also seen a fox, a coyote and a bobcat. Mainly because I looked up. I would have missed most of that wildlife had I been running like I used to, head down, just getting through the run.

It’s observing with my other senses as well. I love the smell of the magnolia tree that I pass, or the freshly cut grass. Hearing the sounds of the birds singing. Watching for the sunrise and the cloud formations.

This new focus is translating to other parts of my life as well. I find I’m more open to meeting people when I’m in a new situation, making new friends more easily.

I am connecting more online, and forging new virtual friendships as well. I find myself remembering tidbits about people that I never retained before, but that allow me to follow up with people and ask how that particular thing is going.

It seems to be slowing me down a bit, so instead of rushing from task to task and fretting over an interruption, I can enjoy a conversation and know that I will get back to the task soon. Or in the case of running, I enjoy the run instead of just wanting it to end.

Life shouldn’t be just a rush to mark the next thing off a list as finished. It has much richer meaning when you slow down and observe both the good and the bad.

What impact could observing have on your life?