Not too long ago, I read an interesting book titled “The Noticer.” Andy Andrews, a well-known motivational speaker and writer, wrote it.

The central teaching of the book revolves on a fictitious character who refers to himself as “Jones.” Throughout the book, Jones, whose life is shrouded in mystery, has an uncanny way of showing up in people’s lives just when they are facing some crisis.

In a spiritual way, Jones simply provides perspective to help people in difficult situations to see their way out. He shares his perspectives after noticing what is really going on in situations. Jones’ noticing is enhanced with an element of the supernatural, which provides for a good story.

Andrews’ book is subtitled “Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Different Perspective,” and perspective is certainly the central theme of the book. But in a very subtle way the author is encouraging his readers to “pay attention to” or notice more of what is going on around us.

In the days of my growing up, a state of awareness was referred to as paying attention. If someone had an accident or made a careless error, it was explained by saying, “Ah, he wasn’t paying any attention.”

I recall getting reprimanded, on more than one occasion, with these words, “Pay attention to what you’re doing.”

It seems to me attention to detail is becoming a thing of the past. More and more, people are simply not paying attention. One of the contributing factors is a general lack of focus.

Why do we lack focus today? I think there are a number of reasons why.

In the movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” an old convict named Brooks, after his release from prison, exclaimed, “I’ll tell you what’s happened. The world went and got itself in a big %@# hurry.” Brooks was right. The world is in too big of a hurry. I call it the rush. I will paraphrase author John Powell by saying “the system is going, going, going. It is not sure where it’s going, but it’s making record speed.”

At the altar of the rush, we sacrifice noticing and paying attention. And life’s most important things require attention. It is easy to find ourselves “going through the motions.”

We grab our lunch at a drive-up window and wolf it down, sometimes never really tasting it, as we rush to our next obligation. Push, push, push – it’s life in a pressure cooker.

I see young parents rushing their children to one sporting event after another, living on hot dogs and pizza, and I wonder if they ever stop and look their children in the eyes and ask, “What do you think?” or “How do you feel?”

We live in a world where children can grow up in a household, reach the age of 18 and leave home, and their parents never really know them.

Maybe we should start paying more attention.

Another reason for our lack of focus is that we as a society are becoming more and more selfish. I often hear those of the next generations begin a sentence with “Me and Joe are going...” or “Me and Sally are getting ready to…” Two things are obvious. First, they did not learn proper grammar. Secondly, and this is symptomatic of our society, they consider me first. And when you are focused on me, you are less likely to notice or pay attention.

So slow down a bit. Take a moment to look around. We are surrounded by miracles every day. Too often, they go unnoticed.

Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a certified speaking professional.

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