Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Paying Attention

A funny story circulated recently about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle evidently told of a time when he hailed a taxi in Paris. Before he could utter a word, the driver turned to him and asked, “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?”
Doyle was flabbergasted. He asked the driver if he had ever seen him before.
“No, sir,” the driver responded, “I have never seen you before.” Then he explained: “This morning’s paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always arrive. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“This is truly amazing!” the writer exclaimed. “You are a real-life counterpart to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes!”
“There is one other thing,” the driver said.
“What is that?”
“Your name is on the front of your suitcase.”
Perhaps the driver was no master detective, but he was observant. He paid attention, and paying attention is an important part of living fully -- if we pay attention to the right things.
Speaker Alan Loy McGinnis tells of a New York City sculptor named Louise. She lived in one of the most dilapidated neighborhoods of the city. But, by paying attention to her surroundings, she found endless beauty and inspiration. She marveled at the elegance in the varying patterns of the sun and the moon reflected on tenement windows. In an object as ordinary as a chair she could see something extraordinary. “The chair isn’t so hot,” she once pointed out, “but look at its shadow.” By paying attention, she was able to see what others might miss.
Paying attention to the moments and to ordinary things of life, as much as possible, is a way to happiness. Like BrenĂ© Brown says, “I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.” What do you think you might actually see and appreciate if you were to look carefully?
  • I think I might see things or people in a new way. Too often I look straight through them and take them for granted.
  • I think that, if I were to pay closer attention, I may better notice the abundance in my life instead of wishing for what I don’t have.
  • If I look carefully, I think I just might see how beautiful and exquisite my life really is instead of thinking someone else has it better.
I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. I may only have to pay attention to the right things and happiness will find me.
-- Steve Goodier