As I made the rounds through my favorite grocery store the other day, I visited the butcher. We greeted one another and he correctly guessed my order. Everything about me being there was routine. However, on this day instead of staring down at the meat display as I normally do, for some reason I tilted my head upwards. Only then did I notice the two huge animal statues built into the upper walls above the display. I was amazed that in all the years I had been a customer, I had never noticed these enormous pieces. When I explained how mindless I've been to the butcher, he replied that only children look up and see the statues.
The busier we are, the more likely we are to ignore our surroundings. This is because the brain is bad at observing things in the current moment when stuck in thoughts about the future or past. Usually while at the meat counter, I'm thinking of the most effective way to get what I need throughout the rest of the store and leave, of course while texting, emailing, and web browsing on my phone. So, how do we stop the rampant thinking? One technique is to take a moment to look around you and search for the things that you have ignored in your physical environment. It doesn't matter what you see during this exercise, it matters that you are seeing it. The truth is that I only need a minute to figure out the path I'm navigating in the grocery store, and that my phone can handle being neglected for ten minutes. Life happens right now, it emerges as we interact with our environments. Whether at work, home, or the grocery store, being too stuck in our own thoughts leads to missed opportunities.
Practices like this help to anchor your mind when it counts. So, take a moment to look around, and notice the difference.