Art of Noticing No. 17: What Were You Wrong About?; new icebreaker; NYC launch event!

Hello again,
The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday (coming in May: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Knopf) offers exercises and prompts and games and things you can actually do to build attention muscles, stave off distraction, pick up on what everybody else overlooked, and experience the joy of noticing. You should pre-order now! Note to readers outside the U.S.: I'm told that this link will work for you.

This newsletter offers related news and ideas that have come along since I finished the book.

May 7 NYC Book Launch,
w/ Lifehacker EiC Melissa Kirsch!

The book will be out next week! I can't believe it! Here are details on the official launch event for The Art of Noticing:
Tuesday May 7 at 7pm, I'll be in conversation about the book with the delightful Melissa Kirsch of the mighty Lifehacker. The event is in conjunction with Books Are Magic, and will happen at Warby Parker on 55 Bergen Street in Brooklyn. I'm told there's a nice outdoor space, so let's hope for good weather.

Also there will be "Something to eat and drink." And books for sale! And eyeglasses, I assume.

Please RSVP here.

Tell your friends in NYC! It's going to be fun! More here.

1. Wrong!

Many years ago, at a movie theater with E, I watched a trailer for an upcoming film that looked absolutely horrible and certain to flop, and whispered to her with total confidence: "Well, that's the end of that guy's career!"

"That guy" was Leonardo DiCaprio, still a newish figure at the time. The film being previewed? Titanic. It did rather well. As you may have heard.

Hey, we're all wrong sometimes! But I was reminded of my supreme wrongness about Titanic the other day, when I read this installment of my friend Paul Lukas's wonderful Uni Watch blog, in which he admits getting a few things wrong over the years. (He was skeptical of bottled water, sports bars, and televised coverage of the NFL draft. “Who the hell would watch that?,” he wondered about the latter. "About half the country, as it turns out.")

As I've mentioned previously AoN isn't just about noticing the world and its features, but also paying attention to others, and even, sometimes, thoughtfully attending to our selves. Nobody really likes to think about having been wrong. (I won't bore you with the behavioral and psychological research illuminating the many ways we avoid our past misjudgments and errors, but there's plenty of it.) And yet, maybe it's worth reflecting on wrongness every so often.

Think about something you got wrong. Maybe it's possible to recognize ways to avoid making the same mistakes. (I still think Titanic is unwatchable, but I no longer assume my tastes are a good predictor of mainstream reaction.) Maybe you'll decide you were so wrong you're right. (Bottled water really is a pretty bad idea.) Or maybe you can just forgive yourself, and accept that being wrong sometimes is just part of being human.

Pretty sure I'm right about that, but then again, who knows?

2. Icebreaker of the Week

This week's icebreaker comes courtesy of John Baglio:

Tell me something about yourself that I could never tell from looking at you.

A teacher and camp counselor, Baglio says he uses icebreakers all the time, and this rather simple one is useful because "it leaves the option of going deep, but the person answering really has control over how exposed they want to be." I like that!
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or got it elsewhere) to

3. Random Endorsement:
Guestbook: Ghost Stories, by Leanne Shapton

Artist and writer Shapton is one of my favorites, and her new book, a collection of stories and vignettes in words and images, "explores the visitations that haunt us in the midst of life, and reinvents the very way we narrate experience." It's amazing; she's a total original. More here.

Okay, that's it! As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals (and your icebreakers). Reply to this email or use

Thanks for reading!


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