Want to View the World with Fresh Eyes? 13 Tips to See More Clearly.

I’ve recently developed an obsession with color — what a gorgeous, fascinating topic! It makes me so happy to learn about color.

One reason I love studying color is that it helps me notice the world. I tend to walk around very absent-mindedly; I hardly see anything around me. For me to be present in the moment, and to connect with the world, I need a hook.

Looking at colors is one great hook, and there are many others, too:

  1. Notice colors — I push myself to notice the color of the sky; the contrast between the orange cone and the gray sidewalk.
  2. Look in a mirror — things look different in a mirror.
  3. Look at a picture of an object. Jamaica Kincaid wrote “Why is a picture of something real eventually more exciting than the thing itself?” A question that haunts me. Related…
  4. Look at an object alongside a picture of it. I heard about this strategy as a way of appreciating art more. Buy a postcard of an artwork, then study the artwork while you hold up the postcard. I’m dying to try this.
  5. Pretend to be a journalist — journalists notice things in a different way. Similarly…
  6. Pretend to be a tourist. Look at the shop windows! How people line up for the bus! What are people wearing?
  7. Draw — this one doesn’t appeal to me, but many people swear by it.
  8. Go someplace new — I’ve lived in my New York City neighborhood for more than a decade, and still I sometimes stumble onto a street I swear I’ve never walked before.
  9. Return to a familiar place after a long time away — go back to your old school; stop into the grocery store where you shopped when you lived in your old house. Fascinating.
  10. Imagine that you have guests coming to stay for the weekend — a great way to see your home in a new way. Along the same lines…
  11. Imagine that you will sell your house — you see it through the eyes of a judgmental stranger
  12. Notice contrasts, when two worlds are juxtaposed –school-children on a sidewalk in front of a business;  a horse-and-buggy clopping down the highway
  13. Look with a child — it’s such a sentimental cliche to say it, but children really do see the world with fresh eyes.

What hooks do you use to help yourself see the world more vividly?

  • Marcie Ashford

    Spend a few minutes viewing the world with one eye closed, then open the other eye for full binocular effect. I do this when I’m bored sometimes.

  • I love the last one! Seeing things the way my children do is wonderful! Just this morning my youngest said to me “sometimes you look at me with only your hair”. He was referring to how he sees me in the rearview mirror. Sometimes I tip my face up to see him and sometimes I can see him without moving my head….so all he sees is my hair.

  • Rachel Bentham

    Two hooks I use – If my life were a movie, what is going on in this scene? I love doing this while people watching – especially if I am listening to great music…The second is watching for movement and light – specifically how they interact. To me it’s the best part of being outside – watching the wind toss shadows and being very aware that everything is alive. Awesome post!

  • Gillian

    Many years ago, I took a watercolour painting class. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body and I always hated art class in school so I’m not sure what prompted me to take this class. I really enjoyed the class and I actually did better than I expected to but the artists of the world have nothing to fear from me. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was how to look. Previously, I would have said that the leaves on a tree are green. The class taught me to see all the subtle variations of green in one tree – darks and lights, blue or yellow variations, etc. Over the years, I’ve stopped noticing again. Your post has prompted me to revive that habit and pay more attention to the details of what I’m looking at. Thank you.

  • gametime2210

    Sit in a different place than you normally do. Changes everything.

  • statmam

    To view a room in my home from a new perspective, I sometimes lean back and pretend that the ceiling is really the floor and the floor is really the ceiling. Suddenly it’s a whole different house with exciting new possibilities. Among other benefits, the exercise helps me see clutter spots that I’ve grown blind to when viewing things right side up.

  • Carla

    My husband and I like to look for signs of the coming season or holiday when we go on walks. So now we are looking for crocus, green leaves popping up, St. Patrick’s Day or Easter decorations, etc. In December, we like to count the number of Christmas lights we see.

    We also like to look for the weirdest thing we can find. This usually develops into a debate on what classifies as weird.