The Art of Noticing No. 22:

Hello again,
The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday offers exercises, prompts, provocations, 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. Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Knopf | All purpose link for readers in UK/Europe or US. If you have read & enjoyed the book, please consider reviewing or rating it on Amazon or Goodreads. Thank you!

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

1. Ways to Enrich Your Experience of Musical Events

Last week I mentioned how much I enjoyed having an event for The Art of Noticing in association with the Birdfoot Festival (a chamber music festival in New Orleans featuring musicians from all over the world). I want to mention one more aspect of that that you might find useful, and fun.

The printed guide to the festival included a programming overview, artist bios — and, here and there, suggested prompts for paying attention to a music event in new ways. These were modified from or inspired by The Art of Noticing.

I’ve collected them here. I think they work as a nice set of suggestions for taking in a festival. Enjoy. (And thanks again, Birdfoot folks.)

2. "To Come Up With Better Ideas, Practice Paying Attention"

Bill Taylor, in The Harvard Business Review: "As I read the book, I reflected on some of the most innovative business leaders I’ve met and practices they’ve developed to notice what others have overlooked."

3. Random Endorsement: Pictures of AoN Interior Pages in the Wild

Like this.

4. Another Random Endorsement: Advice on Moving to Portugal

A little while back, my former collaborator on the now-idle Unconsumption project, Shanna Trenholm, made the rather adventurous decision to move to Portugal. I really admire this kind of life change. And if it makes you wish you could move to Portugal, then she has just the service for you: So, You Want To Move To Portugal. More about Shanna, her work as a writer and creative strategist, and her newsletter The Ampersand, at

5. Well Noticed: An Appreciation of the Postal Mailbox

"And how its latest design diminishes the magic of mail." By Paul Lukas for Gizmodo.

6. One Last Random Endorsement: Book Freak Newsletter

"In each weekly issue, we offer three short pieces of advice from books." And not necessarily advice books. Recent example: “If you want the law to leave you alone, keep your hair trimmed and your boots shined.” From The Man Called Noon, by Louis L’Amour. Sign up here.

7. Icebreaker of the Week

Today's icebreaker comes from Whitney Teubner. It might be my all-time favorite, and it has a bit of a back story. But first, here it is:

Imagine you are backpacking through a remote jungle and the guide you are with has you spend the night with a native tribe. During the evening they treat you as if you were their guest of honor. They put on a show for you and cook you a giant feast . . . part of which includes human flesh. A delicacy for them. Would you eat it? Or, at the very least, would you be curious to know what it tasted like?

Whitney adds: "I like phrasing it this way because it gives people a complete 'out' to try it: They’re dinner guests so it would be rude NOT to... You really get good responses that way. Some people are flat out 'no's and others have conditional questions (where did the meat come from?, etc.)."

The back story is that Whitney used a version of this as an actual icebreaker at a group lunch I was part (most attendees didn't know each other) some years ago — and I loved it, and have since used a variation of it myself in various situations. I suspect this one may not be for everybody, but I hope you'll agree that it's quite original! (Thanks for letting me share it, Whitney!).

Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or got it elsewhere) to

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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