An Observation About Observation

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”

– Yogi Berra

Lately, I have been trying to develop a habit of observing myself and my reactions to the circumstances I have been facing. And I have been surprised by the power of this deceptively simple act. It has been a very interesting process of self discovery, to say the least.

E.g., By observing myself when faced with difficult conversations, I noticed something critical. I noticed that while my communication skills might be fairly decent when faced with a congenial atmosphere, they have failed me when I am faced with difficult circumstances. To cut a long story short, I understood the critical gaps in my communication skills (what some might call tact, others might call convincing skills or “leadership”), which led me to a wonderful book, Crucial Conversations. Now that I know what to fix, I am going to be using this book to understand how to fix it and then practice that. And of course, observe my reactions and results.

A second area where the same principle of observation is definitely showing results, is that of weight management. For the last few months, I have been using an app to keep track of my daily activity, as well as my food intake. Even this simple act of observation and reporting, while not doing anything else at all, has led me to eat healthier and lose a few kilos!

In business (and science), there is a saying “That which is measured, improves”. Anybody will tell you the importance of metrics in any business. To consider beginning any project without proper metrics to define success or failure would be considered lunacy.

But why do we not have the same high standard when it comes observing our own lives, our emotions, actions and reactions?

We have hundreds of systems in place for observing every minute details of a machine or a business, but what system do we have to observe ourselves? And why not?

It seems to be that we are unable observe ourselves because we are too busy chasing.

Chasing jobs. Chasing careers. Chasing girls. Chasing dreams. Chasing shadows.

While at the very core of observing, lies the need to slow down. To pause. To detach. To stop, even.

By the very act of observing the moment, you have extracted yourself out of the current situation. You have detached yourself from the joys and the pain, the highs and the lows. You have slowed down, and instead of waking up one day not knowing when the last day / week / month / year / decade went, you are aware of that very second.

You are living in the moment.

I guess that’s how living is supposed to be done, isn’t it? One observed moment at a time?