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The Value of Objective Observation (and How to Develop It)

I am a physician who likes to write about topics related to health, psychology, psychiatry, and spirituality.

Do you practice objective observation?

Do you practice objective observation?

Objective Observation

Objective observation involves watching people and their behaviors and actions in various situations in an unbiased manner without attaching labels or judgment. Labels are stereotype thinking usually formed from our earlier life experiences, which congeal into ideas and beliefs. We latch onto them. Over a period of time, they become ingrained in our personal culture. They then become the benchmarks, on which we begin to base our judgments in life. In other words, they begin to color our vision, with which we perceive reality, thus changing our observation into subjective.

As a matter of reality, we all have different subjective observations with a few exceptions in certain situations. On the contrary, objective observations do not vary much. Subjectivity can actually be wrong or far from the truth whereas objectivity is as close to the truth as possible. Most of the time, after making decisions—from simple ones to life-changing ones—we depend much on subjective observations in their execution and that is why their outcomes vary from those of others, who also make somewhat similar decisions. The reason for the difference is that we use different amounts of objectivity while executing those decisions. When decisions are based on objective observations, their outcomes are definitely better with positive ramifications.

When subjectivity begins to dominate our life, we start judging everything with it, leading to much dissatisfaction and unhappiness, when things don’t measure well up to our benchmarks of ideas, beliefs, and opinions. When we stop judging things against our so-called benchmarks, we bring in objectivity that lifts the veil covering reality. This will bring a dynamic positive change in all situations, bringing great improvements to our satisfaction and happiness in all domains of life.

We now realize how significant it is to develop objective observation so as to understand our circumstances objectively, which is of invaluable importance for our success, peace, and happiness.

Below are enumerated some of the ways to develop it:

  • Develop general mindfulness: Through a regular practice of mindfulness meditation, one can develop general mindful awareness in everything around because it involves simply observing our thoughts arising during meditation without delving into them. The meditation allows one’s mind to become far more clear, calm, and focused and one can look at things without distortions or personal agendas.
  • Gather knowledge and understanding about things: We should practice seeing and studying something to gain an understanding of how it happens without passing judgment. The more we watch and the greater our depth of observation, the more information we can pick up. Knowledge is the understanding of things that we can gain and use objectively. A way to improve the skill of objective observation is to learn things at a much deeper level of understanding.
  • Learn to observe things differently: We can learn to observe things from many different angles to arrive at better conclusions. This will help us to observe life more completely rather than being selective or allowing parts of the mind to cloud the issue.
  • Avoid rushing things: Most people hope to find a quick way to get a full understanding of their subject: be it science, psychology, arts, and literature, or a cure for their troubles. Things will not be clearer before the penny drops, which often takes time to happen. We will have to develop the patience to consider the matter from different facets.
  • Inculcate sincerity: We will have to develop sincerity to have a deep understanding of matters. This may even mean letting go of our ideas or wishes. But it entirely depends on us to let them go because we cannot progress until we leap over those hurdles. By letting go of our beliefs, opinions, and concepts, we bring objectivity to our various perceptions.
  • Practice memory recollection: Good memory comes to our aid in deciding matters objectively. That is why we should do our best to retain the right information in memory. We can improve by practicing long-term memory once a week by picking either a date or event, then recalling and thinking about as many details as possible. Thinking about things in such a way helps one extract more knowledge from their experiences and gain a more mature and rational perspective on past events, thereby resolving any confusion about them.
  • Test observation and recollection skill: We can do it by walking out of a room and writing down things in the room that we saw trying not to leave out any object. We then go back to the room to check and look at everything we missed. We can do this with anything with a lot of details. By doing this exercise often, we can improve our observation and recollection skills.

The bottom line

Objective observation involves unearthing reality and truth even if one has to go beyond individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings. Broadly speaking, it refers to the ability in any context to judge fairly, without partiality or external influence. Our success in all spheres of life depends largely on how we unearth reality and truth, in which objective observation plays a significant role.

In complex situations, the ability to see the bigger picture and not get swept away by emotion is crucial. If we can stay calm and help others to calm down, it becomes much easier to analyze situations clearly and determine options logically rather than emotionally.

There is good news that one can learn the skill of objective observation to the extent one wants so as to bring positive changes in all domains of one’s life.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Dr Pran Rangan