Looking Below the Surface

Whenever I cook at the stove, my primary cookware is always on the right front burner. The handle faces the left, with my utensils on the right in easy reach. My mother does the opposite. Her cookware is on the left. The primary difference between my mother and me? She is left-handed and I’m right-handed. Handiness is just one thing that affects a person’s interactions with their environment. Everything from your height to your race can cause you to take difference approaches to the same situation.

While it is impossible for any one person to understand the effects of all parts of a personality, careful observation can bring a great deal of information. You can use these observations to make base assumptions. These assumptions can be turned into good follow up questions, which can reveal some of the reasons behind the actions.

As an architect, understanding how people use their spaces is a key part of my job. In order to improve a space, you must first understand its current function. Only then can valuable improvements actually be made. This base of information prevents you from spending time and money making a change that doesn’t improve the space. In fact, such undirected changes can actually hurt as much as help.

Observing your own habits and actions can be equally valuable. Knowing why you take the actions you do will prevent you from wasting effort on pointless activities. You won’t needlessly cut the tail off the turkey simply because your grandma did when trying to fit it in the pan.

It is also valuable to ask the reasons behind the actions others ask you to take. If you understand why your boss wants you to file the paperwork a certain way, it might seem less meaningless. Knowing why the doctor is concerned about your high cholesterol will help you be an active participant in dealing with that condition.

There is more to life than simply what is observed on the surface. You need to often ask questions, look harder, and dig deeper to find the actual reasons behind what happens around you. With this knowledge, you can take better actions, improving the quality of your life experiences.

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