I recently read a remarkable book about a very simple-sounding way to form deep connections in our fast-paced instant-gratification world. Margery Leveen Sher is a work-life balance expert and author of the new book The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing: Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine. In the book, she provides fun and thought-provoking conversation starters and “noticings” to discuss with the entire family around the dinner table, or with coworkers at the next team-building activity. It sounds really easy, but it actually can have a profound effect in conversation and in attitude. By taking the time to really notice things, one becomes more observant, having richer connections to the outside world and also with one's own self.
I had a chance to interview Margery to learn more.
What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
Several years ago I started my website/blog to post myweekly essays about things I have Noticed and to spread the word about the importance of Noticing. I call Noticing “mindfulness with a smile” - being aware of the little things in life and being ready with a smile or a heartylaugh. I have always been a Noticer and I thought I could help other peopleunderstand the importance of Noticing and how it will lead them to a more fulfilling life. After three years of writing weekly Noticing essays, I realized I had enough material to write a book.
Why is it so helpful to simply notice things around us?
We all hustle and bustle through our days, checking off calendar items and things on our to-do lists. There is more to life than this! If we just shift our mindset a little bit, we can start to be aware of little things that are awesome or funny – this is Noticing! When we do this, we can wring everything possible out of our lives and not leave anything “on the table”. Plus, we will be happier, and people who are aware of their surroundings and happy are way more productive.
How can this book help people reconnect?
The book is comprised of 97 Noticings (very short essays) and each Noticing has a Conversation-Starter to go with it. These are suggestions for using the Noticing as a take-off point for discussion. SomeConversation-Starters are for the whole family, some are for friends or spouses, some are for coworkers. Reading the Noticing to each other and discussing it can lead to rich conversations about viewpoints and feelings or the awesomeness of learning new things – as well as lots of laughter. As I say in the book, my Conversation-Starters are only suggestions to get you started. Once you get the hang of Noticing and talking about what you Notice, you can develop your own Conversation-Starters.
Margery Leveen Sher is the Founder and Chief Noticing Officer of The Did Ya Notice? Project™. Sher is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and executive who has had a long consulting career working with corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and foundations. She co-founded, grew, and eventually sold a successful consulting firm, which specialized in developing work-life balance programs and policies. Her firm worked with many multinational corporations as well as U.S. government agencies including the White House. She also has developed a number of non-profit organizations and two charitable funds. Sher posts new Noticing essays weekly at www.DidYaNotice.com and she blogs for The Huffington Post. She has published a book on corporate-supported childcare and numerous articles on various aspects of work-life balance.
Sher holds a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from Rutgers University. She is the mother of two excellent, grown sons and has one amazing grandson. She is an expert at getting people to laugh.