Being an observer is a key ingredient in life for many valuable reasons. I will highlight 3 key questions here to improve your life:
- what does being an observer mean?
- how did our ancestors use this feature to help them?
- how can you become a good observer?
Being an Observer – The Miracles of Life
Being an observer is about seeing the world around you, and all the miracles that life gives you. It is about having situational awareness, interpreting the communication of others both verbally and nonverbally. To be an observer you need to see your environment not through colored glasses but as it really is, to take the time to understand, and observe how people feel, along with your own feelings.
Being a good observer gives us the opportunity to test and validate thoughts, and to analyze clues that says something is wrong. You must be keenly observant in order to recognize what your inner self is sensing and perceiving.
- As Marilyn vos Savant quotes: “To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
- As Yogi Berra notes: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Being an observer is constantly observing, staying open minded, eager to learn, and improve.
Being an Observer – Our Ancestors
Second question: what can we learn from our ancestors regarding being a good observer? For our predecessors, it was critical to be an observer because they relied on this skill for survival and getting along with the world around them. They utilized all their senses; touch, taste, hearing, and sight to detect, and to discern things around them.
They were able to know who was in the area and what they had eaten by the smell of their sweat and the vocalization of the animals or the scampering of birds. They could also, from a distance, examine the posture, gait, arm swing, clothing, weapons, water vessels, etc and could discern if the person was a friend or a foe.
As people moved to cities and were in proximity, people changed their observing abilities. They seemed to have less time to observe.
Being an Observer – Regain a Lost Skill
Last question: how can we improve our ability to become a good observer again?
- First, by knowing the difference between being an observer and just looking. Both terms use your eyes but have different actions. Looking is when you see things without the intent of using it later. You don’t commit anything to memory or try to make meaning of what you see. Being an observer is seeing what is around you and keeping it in your mind so that you can make meaning out of it or pose questions about it.
- Second, be mindful of your surroundings. A good observer takes in their surrounds instead of taking them for granted. You will start to notice things like the same cars that take the same route to work, or when a store changes its display, or the people that hang out in a nearby park.
- Third, pay attention to detail. Start noticing the details of things you pass, such as what kind of trees are planted in front of your favorite coffee shop. What color of shirt does your boss where most often? What type of cars are parked in the parking lot?
- Fourth, refrain from judgment. To be a good observer, you must be neutral. Being an observer doesn’t include personal feelings or judgements because those things are based on bias. When prejudices get involved then you don’t observe what is there.
- Fifth, don’t let distractions get in your way of being an observer. Some distractions could be your cell phone, reading while walking, children running around, etc.
- Sixth, slow down & don’t be in such a big hurry. Being an observer is not rushing through your day but rather taking some time out for observing your world. Look for something that you can take a picture of or that takes your breath away.
- Seventh, being an observer is learning how to use the scientific approach to your world. It is learning how to keep a journal of what you’ve observed that day or the irregularities in your day.
- Eighth, form connections between what you see. Part of being an observer is coming to conclusions. Don’t just observe without doing anything with the information.
- Ninth, mediate. To develop more skills in being an observer mediation is a great exercise. It helps you clear your mind of clutter and distractions, so you can focus. Spend 15 minutes a day in this technique. Breathe in and out along with focusing on everything around you like the sounds, what things feel like, and the smells.
Do It Now!
Being an observer was not only beneficial for our ancestors but is crucial in our everyday experiences of life. It is an ingredient that helps us observe life, prevents dangerous situations, and makes us more aware of all humanity. It makes us not take things for granted and gives us a renewed vision of all the wonderful things that our world has to offer us if we are good observers.
- Graham Chapman puts it like this: “All ideas come about through some sort of observation. It sparks an attitude; some object of emotions causes a reaction in the other person.”
This reaction gives life and an awe of beauty.
- Kathryn L. Nelson expresses it in another way, “Sometimes it is the quiet observer who sees the most.”
I hope you will slow down and be the observer that you were meant to be!