During the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to slow down and observe your surroundings; however, I want to share with you why you should spend more time people-watching. I'm not saying you should go all out and invest in a pair of binoculars, but spending time observing the people around you can be really enjoyable and so gratifying. You are shaped by your environment, and paying attention to it can teach you so much! Let's look at some reasons to spend more time people-watching.
1. It's Comforting
One of the reasons that I love to spend time people-watching is that I find it very reassuring. I love spending time at the library on my campus because when I'm stressed out or have a lot of work to do, it's so nice to be surrounded by peers who are in the same boat as me. I wonder to myself, "Is she procrastinating too? Is he working down to the wire on a paper? Did anyone else in this room pull an all nighter? Am I the only one here asking myself these questions?" Whether you're at the office, grocery shopping, or bringing your kids to the park, you should spend more time people-watching. It's nice to remember that you're not alone!
2. People Are Entertaining
Sometimes, I find that people, including myself, are so naturally and incredibly funny! The other day, I was walking up the ridiculously long staircase to my campus, and I tripped and completely wiped out! At first I was embarrassed, but then I laughed and was happy that I probably just made somebody's day. People always try to be confident and graceful, but when I see someone drop their food in their lap, or experience a wardrobe malfunction, I think it is so beautiful and wonderful that humans are imperfect! I'm not saying that I am ever happy to see other people embarrassed or in pain, but it's so refreshing and amusing to see the side of humans that are just that: human. Yes, people are intelligent, sophisticated, and poised, but at the end of the day, we all have our moments.
3. It Will Open Your Mind
Spending time observing others will help you to be more open to and considerate of different cultures, lifestyles, and activities. When the weather is nice, I enjoy running around the park in my town, and this is one of my absolute favorite places to people-watch. I've slowed down to watch people practice martial arts, take photographs, meditate, and play guitar. To me, people are living forms of art, and I think it's important to appreciate how gifted humans are and how lucky we are to have special talents and abilities. Watching other people engage in activities, customs, or rituals that they are passionate about opens my eyes to how extraordinary human beings are.
4. Nurture Your Curiosity
When I'm peeking up at people from behind my laptop, a book, or even a menu, I love to wonder what their lives are like. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that other people don’t disappear from the world when they walk out of a building; every single one of us each has our own important and unique story to tell. Whenever I see a couple walking together and holding hands, I wonder how long they've been together, how they met, how many arguments they've had, how many times they've forgiven each other. You deepen your curiosity and interest in others when you appreciate and are aware of the lives playing out in front of you!
5. You'll Learn
You can take a lot away from noticing and being attentive to the people around you. Let other people be your guinea pigs! Whenever I'm unsure of how to do something, I wait and watch other people. The first time I visited the dining hall at my friend's university, I didn't know where to find trays, utensils, drinks, or where any of the lines started! It was crowded and confusing, so I watched other people to follow their example. I also learn how to use most of the machines at my gym by watching other people use the equipment before I even attempt to touch it!
6. Become More Empathetic
Watching other people can help you become a more compassionate and empathic person. The other day, I was in New York City (one of my absolute favorite places in the world to people-watch) and I saw a man who was walking his dogs. A taxi turned the corner and tried to drive over the crosswalk even though the light was giving pedestrians the right-of-way. The car came so close to hitting the innocent dogs and then I saw the man angrily kick the cab and stormed off, comforting his pets. I cheered inside because I know that I would have been just as concerned about my own dog. I'm really glad that I saw this moment, because it was touching to see someone be so protective of other living beings; one of the things I love most about humans.
7. Be Inspired
Paying attention to the people around you is a great way to get inspired. Someone else's admirable actions might encourage you to behave in a similar way. I've learned so much about how human relationships work from people-watching, and I love being impressed by acts of kindness. Seeing people hold the door open for someone, pick up something that someone else dropped, or offer someone their seat on a crowded bus, makes me want to also be the kind of person who can brighten another's day. Even though it's easy to get caught up in your own life, actively viewing these simple, but powerful gestures can be a beautiful experience.
There will be days when humanity gets on your nerves and there will be days when you think that mankind is just the bees knees, but despite how you are feeling during a given-time, make an effort to observe the people around you. People-watching will increase your creativity as you dream up their lives, question their behavior, and deliberately study your environment. Do you have any people-watching moments that stood out to you?