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Increase Your Powers of Observation

Increase Your Powers of Observation

Learn how to notice small details.

It's not a superhuman ability. It's important to note when talking about Holmes that he has spent a lifetime cultivating the habits of mindfulness. So it's not like he was just born with this ability to be in touch with the world. What we choose to notice or not notice is a way of framing it in our own mind. We have a lot of bad habits in our mind, and we have to retrain ourselves to really notice the world. Everything we do rewires the brain, but we can rewire it in a way that mindfulness eventually becomes less of an effort. -- Konnikova

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

Meditation is all about teaching yourself focus.

There's this whole area of mindfulness training that teaches you to pay attention to yourself and what's going through your head more. ... just taking a couple minutes at your desk. -- Konnikova

Critical thinking is analyzing what you observe closely, and deduction is coming up with a conclusion based on those facts.

When you're asking a lot of questions, you're thinking critically, and that improves your skills at deduction in ...

Give yourself monthly or daily challenges to form a new habit of observation.

Ideas could include trying new foods weekly and writing about them, noticing the color of a co-worker's shirt every day, or even just looking at a new piece of art closely once a day.

The id...

It's rarely worth it to condense your knowledge into a specialty.

You should be broad in your knowledge. Holmes says that you should have a clean "brain attic," but he's also a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He reads incredibly broadly—he reads about art, music—things...

If you're really struggling to pay attention and personal challenges aren't working, try field notes: writing descriptions and drawing pictures of what you see.

If you're at work, dedicate 10 minutes to observing one person's behavior. Jot it down on paper.

This will ...

 It's not necessarily that Holmes remembers more, but that he can see connections that people usually miss. People think Holmes is this paragon of logic, but that logic is innately imaginative at its core. He doesn't think linearly, he engages his entire network of possible con...

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sherlock holmes

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.”

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It is important to both see and to observe. As Holmes tells Dr Watson: “You see, but you do not observe.

This mental alertness, or mindfulness, is cultivated with deliberate practise. Mindfulness allows Holmes to observe those details that most of us don’t even realize we don...

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  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consistent grouping of actions (sweating, touching the face, and stuttering together) that is really going to tell...

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