The ‘art of noticing’ trend and the importance of being present: ‘It’s creative health at its finest’

TikTok trends are often thought of as creators replicating viral choreography, like The Summer I Turned Prettys Party in the U.S.A.” dance sequence, or asking your significant other hard-hitting questions like how often they think about the Roman Empire. One trend, however, has taken a simpler, more wholesome approach and revolves around noticing the beauty of our surroundings.

Having continued to grow in popularity since late August, the “art of noticing” trend involves sharing footage that captures the beauty of everyday life and the seemingly mundane moments and surroundings that we tend to take for granted. The trend, which is set to “Between” by indie artist Vraell, serves as a reminder to pause and notice the details — the magic — of the world around us.

“The art of noticing is such a beneficial, though not always easy way to calm the soul and remember that we have so much to be thankful for everyday,” @letsvisit___ wrote in response to @notfm‘s video on Sept. 5.

Added @alstertor_x, “Trust me when I say this, once you actually open, think, and embrace life, you’ll see how beautiful it truly is in that moment.”

This trend, argued Katina Bajaj (@katina.bajaj), who received her master’s in clinical psychology from Columbia University, is “the way that we will fight against burnout and hustle culture.”

Bajaj likened the “art of noticing” to the concept of savoring, which Psychology Today defines as our brain’s ability to “fully feel, enjoy, and extend our positive experiences.”

“In our world today, we are often told that we have to be doing a million things at once. Going on a walk and listening to a podcast at the same time or meditating and removing every thought from our brain,” Bajaj explained on Aug. 30. “But the art of noticing allows us to be fully immersed in the beauty, wonder, awe and curiosity that’s around us. It’s creative health at its finest.”

What is mindfulness?

According to Ellen Langer, who was the first woman to ever be tenured in psychology at Harvard University and who has been studying mindfulness for nearly 40 years, it is “the process of actively noticing new things.”

Doing this, explained Langer, puts you more in the present.

“It’s the essence of engagement. And it’s energy-begetting, not energy-consuming. The mistake most people make is to assume it’s stressful and exhausting — all this thinking,” she told Harvard Business Review of being mindful. “But what’s stressful is all the mindless negative evaluations we make and the worry that we’ll find problems and not be able to solve them.”

Advantages of mindfulness include an easier ability to pay attention and remember things that you’ve done.

“You’re more creative. You’re able to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. You avert the danger not yet arisen. You like people better, and people like you better, because you’re less evaluative. You’re more charismatic,” she added.

In January, the Washington Post reported that a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that individuals who received eight weeks of treatment with mindfulness-based “stress reduction” saw reduced levels in anxiety that matched those who take prescription medications like escitalopram, a commonly used antidepressant for depression, general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks. For the duration of the trial, participants also “attended a weekly 2.5-hour-long class with a mindfulness teacher, completed daily at-home exercises for 45 minutes, and attended a one-day mindfulness retreat five or six weeks into the course.”

Breath awareness exercises and body scans, which require participants to focus on different parts of the body, were among the methods used in the study to promote mindfulness.

“We can’t yet predict who will do better with which type of treatment,” the study’s lead author, psychiatrist Elizabeth Hoge, who is also director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University, told the outlet of whether one method may better fit an individual’s needs. “But there’s nothing that says you couldn’t do both at the same time.”

“I’ve recently had a massive shift into noticing recently. Seeing art in everything,” TikTok user @lewisoloughlin commented on @chris_od100‘s video, which, as of reporting, has more than 6.9 million views and 1.9 million likes. “You just have to look, truly look.”

“I think to notice is to live,” @victoriaissocoolios also wrote.

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