My brain and I have been keenly aware of awareness lately… sometimes it’s awareness of my acute awareness and other times it’s my complete lack thereof.
There are so many things to be aware of it sometimes makes my head spin (not literally).
Outwardly speaking, there are a gazillion things in the world to be aware of. It could be in regard to simply noticing the beauty of a sunset or something not so lovely like seeing an oncoming vehicle when we’re walking across the street. Or, are we more aware of who’s texting us while we stroll across a parking lot (something I don’t recommend).
Awareness is not just about noticing all that surrounds us but also about elements that emanate from within. Personally speaking, I try (but don’t always succeed) to be aware of things like the words I choose or my tone of voice; am I being too direct, harsh, lighthearted or potty mouthed? I suppose we could also call that Emotional Intelligence (but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion for another day). Physically speaking, it could relate to something like my body language or my posture (something I have always needed to work on).
Two of my favorite things I work hard to be keenly aware of are possibilities and opportunities – which may not be quite as easy to recognize.
But enough about me… What is it that catches your attention? What types of things do you look out for? What types of things to you regularly miss? Or only recognize with 20/20 hindsight?
The greatest thing about awareness is it gives us the opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive. It helps us decide what future we want to pursue. Personally the future I want is what I call, ‘My Desired Future”.
What exactly is “Awareness”?
If our goal is to be more aware, I believe the best place to start is to actually define what “awareness” is.
Merriam-Webster describes it as:
aware·ness | \ ə-ˈwer-nəs \
: the quality or state of being aware : knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists : having knowledge; consciousness
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama once said this about awareness, “Although it is difficult to pinpoint the physical base or location of awareness, it is perhaps the most precious thing concealed within our brains. And it is something that the individual alone can feel and experience.”
Adding my two cents, I believe awareness is precious because it’s the gateway to all that’s possible.
What is your AQ (Awareness Quotient)?
I’m not sure this is even a thing until now, because my brain just thought of it last night. That said, I did what I always do when I think of something new – I google it. Why? Because chances are, someone already thought of it and seriously, why should I reinvent the wheel? In doing so I found a few articles on the subject but nothing that was particularly helpful and showed me how I might “measure” my awareness. This is important because I’ve learned that if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix or improve it.
So do I have a test for this you ask? No. I do not. (remember I just thought of this last night).
But what if I profess that I firmly believe you can raise your AQ from where ever it is right now?
Let’s say 100 is a perfect score. With this score you are 100% aware of everything – which is quite frankly, not likely - impossible perhaps.
On the other end of the scale, let’s say 0 is a horrible score. The absolute worst. If you are a zero then you’re lucky to have survived this long.
So logic tells me that we are all somewhere between 0 and 100.
Roll with me here for a moment…
Let’s say (for argument’s sake) I consider myself a 50. Which means, by definition I miss half of everything that comes my way. If we were to consult Webster’s definition, that would mean I am only aware 50% of the time. And only 50% of the time do I have the knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. That means my consciousness is only operating at half throttle, my awareness is at half-mast and I can’t see everything I could from the top of the flagpole.
Certainly I can do better than that.
Personally I like to think my score is higher than that. But there’s always work to be done. And there’s only one way to raise my score, whatever that may be, whoever I may be. And that my friend is through practice. Yes. Practice.
Yes. Here’s how. It’s a super easy way to begin strengthening your awareness muscle.
The next time you take a walk, go shopping or travel from here to there, I want you to simply open your mind, eyes and ears and discover all the things that you have not noticed before.
By way of example, when I was first getting to know the woman who would eventually become my wife, we would go on walks (as we still do) and, being a photographer, I would see things she didn’t. I was aware of things she wasn’t. Details like, how the light glistens off of palm fronds, or how a shadow that casts an interesting shape across the sidewalk. After some time she told me that she now sees much more than she used to because of our walks and conversations.
What I’d like to do with you now is open your consciousness to see what you haven’t seen, hear what you haven’t heard and notice that which you have not yet noticed.
To do so, I challenge you to simply walk around the block or go down a familiar aisle in the grocery store and look and listen for visuals and sounds that have not yet captured your attention. Look up, look down, focus on both the far and near. What sounds are filling the air? Are people talking, is your shopping cart rattling? Are the birds chirping?
Ask yourself, what’s grabbing your attention and why?
Also try to be aware of the invisible - look inward as well as outward. How does this moment make you feel? How are you reacting to the situation? Is your brain set on being emotional or logical?
Now, I know this is a simple exercise but with time, I would like you to become more “aware” of your newfound awareness. What opportunities are now presenting themselves that enable you to be more proactive rather than reactive? Are you able to change your perception, your perspective, your thought process? Are you actually able to see beyond the present and into the future?
With some practice my guess is yes.