the action or practice of spending time idly observing people in a public place.
People Watching. Yes, it’s a noun. And if you choose to, it doesn’t have to be spent “idly.” It can be quite productive.
It may sound a bit coco. Some may even think it’s perverted. But I’ve been practicing this cathartic process since I was a child. Of course, back then I had no idea what the hell I was doing. It simply made me feel good, gave me a sense of peace, and made me want to do better.
And when I say people watching, I don’t mean watching with the intention to form opinions and perceptions or make judgments, I mean watching with the sole purpose of being moved in a personal and positive way.
You can watch anyone; your family members, your colleagues, strangers, or even your children. Take your pick. And, you can watch from anywhere. My favorite places are the airport and movies. The good thing is that many of the observations you make about the people you watch may have the potential to inspire you in some way.
Unbeknownst to anyone, when I was growing up, I watched the women in my family very carefully. I watched how they ate, interacted and lived. A lot of who I am today is due to the observations I made. I watched and was inspired, sometimes to follow their example and sometimes to do differently. For example, I come from a family of women who struggled with their weight most of their adult lives. As a result, some of the things they did, I did not do, which led to the outcome I desired; a healthy weight.
Today, I’m still watching – not always my family – and as a result learning about myself, evolving and growing. Word of caution. Don’t openly stare. Understandably, some folks will definitely get offended. A good pair of sunglasses can help you with discretion. No need for sunglasses with the family, they won’t even notice you’re watching them.
Here are 3 things People Watching can help you with:
People are inspiring. Through their actions, they can inspire you to take action in your own life, to make improvements and do better. For example, seeing a couple fighting may inspire you to work on improving your relationship. Similarly, seeing a couple hugging may inspire you to continue to work on your relationship in order to foster more love, which includes more hugs in your life.
Even if it’s for a short time, watching others will allow you to live in the moment. More often than less, humans are thinking of the past or the future rather than what’s happening in the present. I discovered that while people watching, I’m immersed in the now, paying attention to the activities of the people who are the focus of my attention and simultaneously paying attention to how I’m feeling in that moment. There’s no stress about anything was or will be going on in my life.
Sometimes, we see ourselves in others. What about someone else’s behavior is reflective of or mirrors your own? Is it a behavior you love and want to continue exhibiting or is it a behavior you think needs to be improved or removed? When we see others doing things that we admire, we tend to want to do it or continue doing it. However, when we identify with undesirable behaviors in others we tend to work toward improving or relinquishing them.
Keep in mind, when you’re people watching you’re not making assumptions of trying to get into people’s heads. You’re simply accepting what you see as is. So if a woman walking confidently with her shoulders held high inspires you to want to do the same, let it inspire you. Don’t worry about what her life is really like or if she is putting on a show.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a wife, mama, science educator, author, certified health coach and entrepreneur. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Redbook, Natural Health, Instyle, Working Woman, Huffington Post, Essence Online, Tampa Tribune and more. She is currently the Chief Self-care Connoisseur and founder of I. O. Beauty Market, where she curates products that are free of toxic, harmful ingredients.