When a friend recently shaved off his long-term beard, a number of people who knew him asked, after looking at him quizzically, whether he’d got new glasses.
They knew something about him had changed but despite a beard being a pretty significant facial feature, it was surprising to hear how many were clearly oblivious to its existence.
It wasn’t as if the covering was mere (sorry) bum fluff—he’d sported a full-on bushy beard.
We do, of course, tend to notice things more when they change, even though we may not always be very good at identifying what exactly it is that isn’t the same.
Our attention is drawn to situations that have changed since we last encountered them.
I’m sure this had evolutionary advantages.
To your early ancestors, a newly broken branch could have indicated the presence of a hidden predator.
Notice it and they survived (and ended up passing on their genes to you).
Miss it and they were prehistoric toast, long before any gene-transmitting opportunities presented themselves.
Taking notice of the world around you offers bigger benefits than simply ensuring your personal safety, however, because doing so has definite mood-enhancing potential.
You may believe that everything stays the same, but look more closely and I think you may discover that your surroundings are subtly altering all the time.
Keep your eyes and ears open.
There’s plenty to see out there.