If I were to look around my office right this minute, here's what I'd notice:
• It's 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I notice my belief that I should be sleeping rather than writing this.
• I notice that my piles of paper are starting to take over my desk in such a way that you might not even notice that I had a desk.
• I notice that I have written out my whiteboard list of "to-dos" in Sharpie by accident (or would Freud give me a hard time about that?), meaning that my list will haunt me as undone forever -- or at least until I get a new whiteboard.
• I notice that a cup of coffee has not magically appeared on my coaster, making the 6 a. m. on the clock feel even harsher.
• I notice that I'm noticing what's right in front of me, physically and emotionally.
• I notice that I'm noticing what's keeping me up at night, quite literally.
I also notice my understanding that this is pretty typical "System 1 Thinking," according to researchers Keith E. Stanovich and Richard West. System 1 is quick, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional, and it's where most of our decisions happen. It's about noticing what's right in front of us, without deeper consideration or exploration.
System 2 thinking, however, is slower and more aware, conscious, strategic explicit, and logical. I now notice that it's the kind of thinking that I help my coaching clients by asking questions like, "What did you notice about your reaction?" "What do you notice just shifted for you?" or "What do you notice about your strengths that you haven't given yourself enough credit for?"
Noticing requires us to slow down, take a moment, and stay with a feeling rather that write it off or run away from it. Noticing asks that we dig in rather than dismiss. Noticing wants us to really live rather than let the moments pass us by.
And I also now notice that this coach could coach herself a little better in shifting from System 1 thinking into System 2, and I notice a new commitment to myself beginning to take shape.
In the Chofetz Chaim, a book of Jewish ethics and laws of speech, it is written "when the going seems rough, look at the jewels you're carrying." If I consider a 6 a. m. wakeup on a Sunday "rough going," then here are the jewels I'm willing to notice:
• Peace and quiet. I am the only one awake in my home, so there are no demands on my time and attention from anyone else.
• The pictures of my family on my desk (which I can still see among the clutter), that remind me of my purpose in life.
• This magnet on one of my non-ruined whiteboards: "Let go of heavy thoughts and grab hold of lighter ones."
• Let's get real: I have my very own office in my very own home that I love and wouldn't move from even if we won the lottery. We would update the master bathroom and put in a guest room, but I am noticing that I digress...
In the words of German poet Bertolt Brecht, "Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels."
Here are 10 things that many of us haven't been noticing in our System 1 thinking that are right in front of us, and, I believe, deserve to be noticed:
1. Physical comfort: If you're not in pain at all, or you're in pain but some parts of you don't hurt at all, notice how wonderful that feels.
2. Emotional peace: We all wrestle with something, but notice the parts of your life where you feel fulfilled or like they're good enough for right now.
3. Safety: If you wake up in the morning and your first, second or third thought isn't whether you and your loved ones will survive the day, please notice that.
4. Work that serves a purpose: Whether you're lucky enough to have a job that feels like your professional soul mate, or you even have a job that allows you to provide for yourself and your family, take notice.
5. People who care about you: If there's at least one person in the world who would hurt if you hurt or who would celebrate your successes with you, you are cared for.
6. Opportunities to contribute: We all have something to give, from money, time and ideas to attention, affection and activism. Someone in the world needs exactly what you have to offer. Notice who that is and then go do something about it.
7. Nature: Notice that your window isn't just for collecting dust, and that your door isn't just to keep strangers out. Let the outside in, or go outside and just be -- in the sun, the rain, among the trees and the breeze.
8. Small pleasures: Notice the little things that put joy and energy into your day (for me, it's reading a People magazine while NOT on the treadmill, or a walk on the Long Beach boardwalk at sunset, or a frozen yogurt with toppings that crunch) and notice how you might build your week around having more of those.
9. People worth noticing: I'm not talking about Beyonce. I'm talking about people who are great listeners, or who keep you on track, or who bring a dependably good attitude, or who remember the little things, or who just know how to get it done without breaking a sweat. Notice them privately and publicly.
10. Life. You're still here. Isn't that worth noticing?