colorful male specie of eastern bluebird starting flight

Observing Hobbies

On the power of observation, and observational hobbies.

All of us are watchers – of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway – but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing.

Peter M. Leschak

What are observational skills?

Observation skills refer to the ability to use all five of your senses to recognize, analyze and recall your surroundings. This practice is often associated with mindfulness because it encourages you to be present and aware of the details of your daily life.

Observation Skills: Definition and Examples |

Observing is about deferring labeling, assuming, and reasoning. Seeing things for what they are. Observing essentially means doing nothing – physically and mentally. And as simple as it might sound, for many of us it is almost impossible.

We were conditioned to quickly draw conclusions, form an opinion and take action. But, without observing first, we might choose to go down the wrong path. Already self-convinced, we are likely to refuse to consider alternatives, or even be unaware of any.

Observation, not old age, brings wisdom.

Publilius Syrus

When people are involved, observation can help us postpone judgment and criticism and is likely to let others feel that they are being seen, heard, and understood – establishing better communication.

It makes sense that observation is a key concept both in science and mindfulness:

Facts have to be discovered by observation, not by reasoning.

Bertrand Russell

[Mindfulness is] the nonjudgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise.

Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review.

Hobbies can help us become better observers

Observation is a skill. And like all skills, it can be practiced and improved. The best way to practice is to do, or, in this case, to not do. Explore the list of observational hobbies, and become a better observer.

Explore all hobbies →