I wanted to include this on the Be A Better Man With 11 Things You Can Do Today list, but I felt like it was important enough to give some front page love. I recently stumbled upon an article that asked a simple question: what would happen if the next time you’re talking a walk you pry your eyes from the cracks in the sidewalk and look to the tops of the trees? Consider me intrigued.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent most of your life looking at one thing when you walk down the street: your feet. It’s something we do as a mechanism to shield ourselves and make us feel safe out in the fucked up world around us. We do it without thought. We do it all the time. And we’ve been doing it since Australopithecus Afarensis (look it up) decided he was through being a quadruped. We’ve been subconsciously duped into thinking we need to see exactly where our next step will be landing.
So, with the aforementioned question in mind I took to the streets and made an effort to keep my eyes up. After a few clumsy moments of disorientation I noticed a few things. For one, the physical act of not looking where you’re next step is going allows you to let go – if only in that quick moment – of something that previously occupied conscious thought. That void is then occupied with the surrounding sights, smells and sounds and raises awareness of yourself and your environment.
Furthermore, looking up straightens your spine, pulls back your shoulders, and allows you to appear as if you’re happy to be possessing the body you’ve been given.
It sounds crazy, but believe me when I say it can go a long way towards boosting your confidence and elevating your mood. It also reminds us that no matter how shitty a day we are having, there are always greener pastures ahead. Optimism is seeded in the idea that there is always hope, and sometimes we need to be reminded of this.
A word of advice, however, for those of you that live in sprawling metropolises: be sure to keep a third eye focused on where your feet are stepping, because you never know when…ahem…obstacles might be waiting…fuck it…turds. I’m talking about turds. Watch out for them. When I first tried this I was living in San Francisco and there is no worse city in the United States for fecally infested sidewalks. Sorry to be crass, but I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. Consider yourself warned.
Keep an open mind and give it a shot. You might just find yourself in a better mood. If you haven’t picked up on it already, this ‘letting go’ is a metaphor for being able to find comfort in uncertainty in a much grander sense. We become so preoccupied with worrying about what will happen to us 5 years down the road that we forget to appreciate what’s right in front of us. I’ll be echoing this sentiment quite a bit on The Self-Aware Man because it’s vital to being the best version of yourself. This exercise is a small, easy step you can take every day to start appreciating the present moment and forgetting about the shit you can’t control.
All you have to do is look up.