This one is part of a larger framework called “NEPA”, which I have probably talked about before in this blog (or you’ve heard me say it in person), and I’m sure I’ll talk about it a lot more in the future because it was a life-changing bit of knowledge for me. NEPA is something they taught us in the OPEX CCP. It stands for:
N = Noticing
E = Explaining
P = Prescribing
A = Actioning
I’m only going to talk about the “N” today, but the others are all suitable topics for future blogs I’m sure. “N” is noticing, and it is a much larger concept than it seems at first because it truly encompasses all our senses and our instincts.
I acknowledge all the 5 senses that are typically spoken about: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch; but I also recognize a 6th sense, which is an energetic awareness of your surroundings (such as the sense that you are being observed). When someone is looking at your back from across the room, you can feel it, and will often turn to see where that intense observation is coming from. Your other 5 senses had nothing to do with that. You can test this sometime while driving through town. Simply stare at people as you drive past and see how many of them turn to look at you, even though there was no way their other senses could have told them you were staring (trust me, no one will think you’re a weirdo).
I think there is also a 7th sense, which is the heart sense or the gut sense (maybe those are two different things, I’m not sure). This is that sense of right and wrong you get about a choice or a situation. This is the “vibe”, the feeling, the instinct. This might actually just be deep, behind-the-scenes neural processes happening in the blink of an eye, but I consider it a sense. It tells you when things are good or when they are not good.
There may even be other senses that are not accounted for here. That’s not for me to know. The point is, you can’t ignore any of them. All of your sensory perceptions are intended to give you critical survival information.
- Your eyes can see danger approaching from very long distances, or see teensy tiny dangers directly in front of you (like the particular markings on that spider that’s crawling your way).
- Your hearing can tell you what’s around the corner long before you get to where that thing is visible.
- Your taste can tell you if something is poisonous or might at least give you a gut ache (much of the time).
- Your sense of smell can tell you about gross things that you probably want to avoid, or about the presence and activities of other creatures in your vicinity.
- Your touch sense can tell you about things that might cut you or irritate your skin, or even variations of temperature that might cause you discomfort, pain, or death (freezing, burning, etc.).
- Your energetic awareness can tell you if you’re alone or not, if you’re being followed, hunted, or tracked.
- Your heart sense, gut instinct, or feeling about the vibes can tell you if the person you’re talking with is up to no good, or if the choice you’re about to take probably has bad consequences at the end.
These senses don’t just help protect us from danger, but they also attract us to what is good: Our eyes see beauty; our ears hear melody; we taste delicious food; we’re attracted to pleasant smells; we enjoy the feeling of certain textures and are comfortable at certain temperatures; we are attracted to the energy of certain people; and some situations just feel right.
With all this important information coming at us all the time, we can’t possibly notice all of it, so our brain filters most of it. We separate signal from noise. This is why I notice the smell of poopy diapers as soon as I walk into the day care, but the people who have been working there all day do not notice it. This is why people who live in Kolkata are not bothered by the constant blaring of car horns.
With all that filtering going on, it just makes the signals that get through even more important. When you actually do notice something as significant, that means that piece of information, that sensory perception, stands out from all the background details that you didn’t notice.
- When you see something that is out of place, fix it; when your eyes are attracted to something beautiful, look closer.
- When you hear violence and discord, walk the other way; when you hear a pleasant sound, draw nearer.
- When you taste poison, spit it out; when your mouth is pleased by nutrient-filled goodness, take another bite.
- When you smell poop, don’t step in it; when you smell flowers, share them with your wife.
- When your clothes don’t feel comfortable, give them away; when the weather feels just right, go be outside.
- When you feel eyes on the back of your head, figure out whose eyes those are and whether they wish you well or wish you harm.
- When you notice something just isn’t right, don’t do it; but when you notice something feels right in so many ways, get more of that.
The point is, the things we notice are important and worthy of investigation. Trust your noticings and follow up on them. See what they can teach you. Don’t ignore the things you notice.
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