If one were to make a list of the most important survival skills, I think most people would overlook observation skills. Yet, I feel the ability to not only notice but later recall details of what you’ve seen and heard can be crucial to survival.
This does tie into memory so if you feel yours has slipped a bit as you’ve gotten older, work on improving it. Cognitive skills are like muscles, if you don’t exercise them regularly they begin to atrophy. Sound far-fetched? Tell you what, go have a conversation with someone who is glued to the TV from the time they get home from work until bed, then have a similar conversation with someone who chooses reading over TV and see if there’s any difference.
Taking off the proverbial blinders as you go about your day will help you to notice and recognize potential risks to your safety much quicker. As you’re walking down the sidewalk, a guy is walking towards you. He’s rather average in appearance, except he seems to be looking all around. Maybe he’s looking for a companion who walked ahead? Or looking for an address? Or just maybe he’s checking to see if any cops are around as he reaches for your briefcase or purse. By noticing his behavior, you can shift your bag to your other shoulder, away from him, before he passes by.
You come home from work after fighting snow-related traffic snarls for an hour. You’re tired, cranky, and looking forward to making a hot dinner for yourself. As you pulled into the driveway, did you notice the tire marks in the snow? Or the footprints leading from the driveway to the front door?
Get in the habit of noticing details and remembering them. As cars pass you on the road, make a game of trying to remember the types and colors of the vehicles, the genders of the drivers. When you’re out and about, take the time to sit and do some people watching. Make up stories in your head about some of the folks you see as this helps with your memory skills.
Pay attention to the world around you. Could be it is trying to tell you something.