Think back over the course of your marriage (or even before) or other meaningful relationships that you currently have. Who are the people that have made these relationships successful? Are they family members, friends, spiritual leaders, teachers, or others? What things did they say or do that made a difference?
These are the questions that kept coming to my mind as I read the new fiction book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. Andrews uses the fictional journey of a narrator who goes from being a homeless young man bound by negative thoughts to being a successful businessman because of an encounter with an ageless sage who teaches him “perspective”.
As our main character comes to realize over time, there is something unusual about this sage (known by different names to people of different cultures such as “Jones”, “Garcia”, and “Lee”) who seems to always be in the right place with the right people at the right time with just the right message.
The lesson that our protagonist and other characters in the story learn from this sage is how changing our lives requires a change of perspective. How can you look at situations and people differently? It necessitates a more deliberate noticing of the things that others miss.
While I enjoyed the book for its simplistic message (sometimes it honestly felt a little too simplistic) and quick read, what I most enjoyed about it is its applicability to marriage—the topic that I tend to think and write about most often. Andrews’ thesis could not be any more appropriate. Whenever I talk to couples in the education or counseling context I talk about perspective. Individuals are usually excellent at seeing things one way. But, we often struggle to see it another way—especially when we feel somehow threatened by another perspective. Any therapist will tell you that helping couples always requires that each learns to see another perspective.
The other theme of the book that I was very interested in is the idea of taking notice of things that are often taken for granted. Married couples often get into a rut of doing the same things over and over again. We get into a habit where we stop noticing—like we did when we were dating. But, what would happen if couples started noticing each other again—I mean really giving attention to what may really be going on with each other. What things are happening with your spouse, fiancee, or partner that you don’t totally understand because you haven’t noticed?
The Noticer is a wonderful book to add to your collection—especially if you value the importance of perspective in relationships (and who doesn’t). Kudos to Andrews and Thomas Nelson Publishers for presenting something with a timeless message in an accessible format. In the end, the message to all of us is to pay more attention to invest ourselves in those around us.
I started this piece asking who has contributed to your own successful relationships. In the end, our thanks to those people is only truly shown when we in turn contribute to the development of others. Thank you Andy for giving us a tool to do just that.