Notice the little things, they are the big things.
I notice things. Not details like who is doing what on social media or what one of the Kardashians said on Instagram. I’m talking about little things, like the overwhelmed look on a mom’s face when I walk in the room to see her sick baby. Or the slight edge in someone’s voice when they are trying to pretend they aren’t nervous for their upcoming surgery. It’s my job to read between the lines and pay attention to the small stuff.
Sometimes I see a patient for their high blood pressure, and before you know it we are both crying because we end up talking about their young daughter-in-law who has breast cancer. Or I see someone for their diabetes follow-up, but we spend most of the visit talking about how stressful it is taking care of their wife with dementia. Because I notice the little things. And beyond noticing, I ask questions, and then listen.
Since I know this is something I have had to practice, I realize not everyone is great at noticing. But I also think if we are not paying attention we are missing out on life’s most amazing moments. For example, I have noticed my almost twelve-year-old son is most willing to open-up in the morning on the way to school after we drop his sister off. Usually at that time I am stressing in my brain about being late, or what my schedule will look like for the day, or if I’ll have time to make a decent dinner before the kid’s activities start that night. But when I focus on him, his questions, his mood, his upcoming events… we get to have 10 minutes of time just for us. And trust me, it’s so worth it, for the comedy alone sometimes! That kids wants answers to everything and apparently, puberty is on his mind right now!
We are all so busy. We are inundated with information literally every second of the day. We are on overload, always giving, saying yes to things we don’t have time for, and some days it seems like nothing ever gives. But when we notice the people right in front of us, and acknowledge them, even with a smile or a quick “hello,” our worlds brighten just a little. And when we go that extra step from noticing to asking to listening, it’s even better. Not just for the person we gave our attention to, but for us as well.
Humans are hard-wired for connection and everything in our world right now pulls us further away from truly coming together with others. Every chance we get to find a common thread, have empathy for another, or make someone feel heard is a chance to be more human. I can’t think of a single other thing that our world needs more right now than humans coming together, noticing each other, and acknowledging that we are all in this.
Practice noticing. It takes time. Look people in the eyes. Read between the lines. Learn to watch body language. Put your phone down (*gasp*). Ask questions. Listen. Reach out. You can do it. And you will be so glad you did! Your life WILL change when the little things become the big things.