Stop and Pay Attention

It's much too easy to get through the day, the weeks, the years and not even realize where you've been. It's easy to go through the motions and keep moving forward in situations that give us nothing. But when we don't pay attention, we can miss out on so much. What does it mean to pay attention? It means to be fully aware of where you are and what you are doing and who you are with. Some call it mindfulness or being in the moment. Call it whatever you want as long as you make a conscious effort to do it.

Gold sparkle

Tragedy can force you to pay attention and make you realize that the present moment is all you have. If you let it, it can make the present painfully alive. In my opinion it's good to be present during difficult times because being fully in the moment can also save you. Paying attention has gotten me out of my own head and past some of the hardest times in my life. It can be difficult because it's human nature to worry about the future or to dwell on the past but by practicing mindfulness you focus on what's important right now. Julia Cameron says it best in her book The Artist's Way:

"Attention is a way to connect and survive."

You see, when we pay attention to what surrounds us we connect with life. When we appreciate all those precious details, and focus on beauty, that beauty can lift our spirits and bring us joy in difficult times. One way to be mindful is to practice gratitude. Try this: every day spend ten minutes thinking of things that you are grateful for. It can be basic things like a roof over your head and food on your table or more personal things like your child's laugh or your spouse's hugs. The fact is that it doesn't matter what you're grateful for as long as you make it a point to pay attention to all of the things that you have that you can be grateful for.

Pink rose center

As an artist, paying attention can bring you a new level of creative awareness and inspiration. It sounds super cliche to stop and smell the roses but when you do (yes, I do this all the time) you become aware of the magic that is all around you. Paying attention means that you can lose yourself in something as simple as the beauty of a flower. As a photographer I have found that paying attention allows me to "see photographs" everywhere. I notice the light, the patterns and the colors around me when I pay attention. An exercise I have found extremely useful is to practice a daily photo with my phone. My life isn't terribly exciting but even on my walks with Bear I can find interesting things to photograph if I'm paying attention.

Try it and see what happens, just for brief moments of time stop what you are doing and pay attention to everything around you using all of your senses. Look up and all around then close your eyes and listen. See what you discover.

P.S. Click here to see more flower photographs for sale!