Today I woke up in hotel room and immediately started my morning routine. Before bed, I had closed the blinds, so the room was only lit by lamp light. As I packed my things and prepared to leave, I noticed a bit of color on the wall peeking out from behind the curtains. I almost missed it, almost continued my packing and just left. Instead, I stopped and opened the curtains and was greeted by the last minutes of a gorgeous sunrise – pinks and oranges spreading across a bluish Philadelphia skyline.
I gasped, awed by the beauty, and just observed it for a few moments. It’s the little things all around us, the freebies, that are easy to overlook; the things that calm us, comfort us, give us hope and appreciation.
Driving to my meeting, I thought more about other little things that I am less aware of when I don’t slow down and notice them, choosing instead to rush or accept distraction. The pretty plant right by the door of the hotel, the little bird flitting and chirping in the bushes next to my rental car, the fact that I can fill a bottle with clean water in almost all cities in America, a free bag of pretzels offered on a flight, the ability to find my way from pretty much anywhere to anywhere via my phone.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear makes easy-to-implement suggestions about how to turn a desire into a habit. What would happen if I made appreciation of the little things a part of my day? What if the sound of my truck starting reminded me to look around and notice nature, beauty around me or that toothpaste reminded me how lucky I am? I started the new habit and the results have been incredible; moments of awe at those little things, moments of delight at the site of an evening sky, a jacket of joy wrapping me up in the happiness that I woke up alive – able to experience the good, the bad, the ups and downs that are a part of living.
At work it’s easy to get distracted or sucked into screen-focused activities for hours on end. We can make not noticing beauty a habit instead of creating habits that bring us appreciation, joy and even awe. I’ve put a bird feeder outside of the window closest to my desk so that I am distracted by a cardinal instead of an online ad. I hope you will think and share ways to make noticing beauty a part of your routine.
– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO