10/15/2012 05:22 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2012

A Mathematical Formula Reveals Secret, Missing Ingredient to Work-Life Balance

As a tribute to the 2012 Work and Family Month, I will reveal a secret. This is a secret so essential, so key, so basic to our well-being that I hope you will help me spread the word!

You need to understand an algebraic formula:

N = H + M= P + S

Where N = Noticing
Noticing leads to H (happiness) + M (mindfulness)
And happiness and mindfulness lead to P (productivity) + S (smiles).

Well, I guess you figured out by now that I am not a mathematician... But I am the founder and Chief Noticing Officer of The Did Ya Notice? Project, and I know that noticing is the secret, missing ingredient to work-life balance.

What Is Noticing?

Noticing means paying attention to everything and anything. While you rush to work or back home or to the store or to the sports fields, do you notice what you see? What do the clouds look like today? Is the wind blowing the trees? If you are commuting on the subway or on the bus, are you noticing the people around you? If you saw me, you would probably see me scribbling a blog post -- would you have noticed that? Would you have thought, "Look at that odd woman with pen and pad. Why, she is right out of the 20th century!"

Think about what you usually don't. What is the simplest device you use each day? A toothbrush? A pen? A button? Is it beautiful in its functional simplicity? How about traffic? Is it getting you riled up? Have you noticed that traffic generally arranges itself in cluster formations on a highway? Why is that? There is lots of research and many attempts to develop mathematical models on traffic patterns.

Did ya notice that nature is abundant in fractal patterns -- cauliflower, snowflakes, mountain ranges?

Did ya notice that hexagons are all over nature? Notice a turtle's shell. Look at a picture of the hexagonal cloud over the planet Saturn!

Surely you can't help smiling if you admire the beautiful functionality of a trashcan. And there cannot be too many smiles in the world!

Research Shows Noticing Is Important

Research shows that mindfulness leads to greater happiness, and greater happiness leads to higher productivity - whether at work or with your family. The January-February 2012 Harvard Business Review has a series of articles on "Creating Sustainable Performance." Researchers have found that happy employees are more productive. They have also found that the small, everyday things in life count the most in making us happy. Well... that sounds like... noticing amazing little things!

So do take advantage of this secret, missing ingredient for work-life balance -- noticing! Noticing is a great conversation-starter with your children of all ages, and a great conversation-starter with your elderly parents as well. Don't just hustle and bustle through your life, add noticing and you will be truly living!

Margery Leveen Sher
Chief Noticing Officer, The Did Ya Notice? Project

For more by Margery Leveen Sher, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.