It’s easy in our modern world to live out our lives in our own little worlds – our jobs, our communities, our families. We almost have our own little kingdoms, and in our realms, the focus tends to be on ourselves. In this setting, it takes some effort to look outward. Noticing the world around us comes easily to some people. And some of us have to work at it. Our kids are the same way. Some are natural noticers, and some are really good at looking out for their own interests. But we would all do well to notice the world around us more regularly, not only for the good of others, but also for our own safety and for our own well-being.
Noticing is good for us
When we really notice the world around us, it does several things for us. First and foremost, it keeps us much safer. (Did you think it was for the good of others? That’s also really important, and we’ll get there.) Personal defense and crime prevention programs teach us to always be aware of our surroundings in public. It’s difficult for someone to take you by surprise if you’re generally aware of who is near you. And someone is much less likely to attempt anything with you if you are obviously looking around, and looking at them. In fact, making eye contact with a suspicious person can be a great deterrent to any malicious intentions. We’re not trying to stare them down or anything, just letting them know that we see them.
In the same way, looking all around as you walk through a parking lot puts you at a great advantage in protecting yourself. It’s important to notice the other people around and the cars that are parked next to yours.
Noticing our surroundings is a relatively small step we can take to protect ourselves and our families. And it’s a valuable skill to teach our kids.
Noticing ways to help
Noticing the world around us also helps us see the needs around us. These needs can be big or they can be tiny. Maybe someone needs help on the side of the road, or maybe your coworker is just a little down today. Someone nearby might be trying their best but having a really hard time (our kids, a cashier at a store, a student driver, your coworkers).
When we get very self-focused, and that is so easy to do, we miss these cues. And so we may respond to any of these situations in an unhelpful, and possibly unkind way. Without realizing it, we can make other people’s situations much worse, and we can make them feel unsupported and alone.
So let’s be noticers, and let’s teach our kids to notice the world around them too. One of the key ways a hurting person can heal is to be seen.
Building our own confidence and joy
Noticing the world around us helps us in another way. It actually helps us to be more confident. This makes sense, since noticing will give us a clearer view of the world around us. We’ll understand how we fit into our world a little better. And the more we reach out to other people, even if it’s just eye contact and a smile, the more comfortable we will be with these interactions.
And you probably already know that making someone else’s day gives you a lot of joy too. Our brains release the happiness neurotransmitters when we bring happiness to someone else. What a great deal!
Teaching our kids to notice the world around them
As we develop these habits of noticing, our kids will follow our lead. So let’s notice the world around us, and let’s point it out to our kids as we do so. Does someone look sad? Ask your child if they think that person is OK. Walking out of the grocery store with your kids? Ask them to look around and see how many red cars they can find, or ask them if they can find your car.
When you leave your home together, maybe set an expectation that we will have our eyes open and notice the world around us.
We can each improve our own worlds by noticing the world around us.
My Signing Time
Check out the free Signing Time Dictionary for signs to go along with these feelings and activities. Just enter the sign you’re looking for in the search bar at the top to see if we have it, or explore the different categories on the side. There are all kinds of action signs and feelings signs to go along with the idea of noticing the world around us.
And don’t forget the positive, educational shows we have at My Signing Time. With a My Signing Time digital subscription, you can access our shows from any device. Try it out with a 14-day free trial right here.