Improving your abilities to notice

Web Lead

How good are your noticing skills? What type of things do you notice in your daily routine as you move about the community? I can’t help but think we are evolving away from this ability as we spend more time gazing at the screen of our televisions and smart phones – face it, the pendulum has gone full swing as we now enforce laws trying to get people to give their full notice to driving. Case in point was yet again another news story of someone putting their full reliance on the car GPS and ending up in a Light Rail Transit tunnel in Calgary; in fact you just have to Google GPS Fails and you can be entertained endlessly with people not noticing their surroundings as they plunge into interesting but unwelcome adventures.

There are degrees of noticing; the obvious ones, such as pulling out on the highway then seeing the grill of a Kenworth logging truck in your rear view mirror so close that you can count the legs of bugs splattered on the bumper because you failed to notice traffic before beginning the maneuver. Then there are the subtle ones such as noticing a patron’s slight improvement in mobility over time as they use the pool and fitness facility or perhaps how a co-worker or friend is ever so slightly off what is their normal personality.

Around here, you notice sounds as well as sights – you learn to distinguish between merely a loud voice and one that has an aggressive or distressed edge to it. You notice weird mechanical sounds, vibrations or humming outside the norm. You notice when toddlers yelp or shriek in the lobby because it is a large, echoey space and that’s what we are genetically programmed to do when we are toddlers. You learn to notice people that are not here for recreating or using the facility; basically up to no good and while these situations are infrequent, staff typically mobilizes to deal with each as they happen. You tend to notice the new faces in the gym or pool which for me, is a clear indicator that we are still attracting fresh citizens despite our age. Tapping into other senses, you can be a long way away but can still notice funky smells ranging from someone leaving the empty coffee urn on the burner to a cigar smoker who has recently passed this way.

Like searching for agates on a beach, you can improve your abilities to notice with practice. Then you start to notice the important stuff; the sunset as it hits Thompson mountain, the deafening quiet sometimes experienced in the forest, kids playing with unorganized, unadulterated abandon, the stranger that spontaneously helps someone on crutches cross the street on a snowy day, people genuinely happy, people heartbreakingly sad, the first birds singing with the sunrise, the smell of the first raindrops on a hot summer day. It is the subtleties that make the difference, often happening in your periphery and gone just as fast. They can be right in front of us but we don’t see them because we are so immersed in our day to day routines, we have stopped noticing. It can be as simple as meeting someone’s eye and smiling or nodding hello as you walk down the hallway, street or grocery store aisle. Staring at the sidewalk may merit you the occasional quarter or loonie but looking up and around can bring a world of appreciation.

Looking up and around is essential if you come to the Community Complex and take in some top shelf hockey as the Junior B Provincial Championship Cyclone Taylor Cup advances these next few days. Check out for more details and let’s welcome all the players and visitors to our great community!