When I went to take a shit at work today, I decided I was going to quiet my mind and listen to the room. I'm not totally sure what prompted it, but I think it was because of an awesome "This American Life" episode I remembered from years ago. I heard the loud hum of fluorescent lights. I heard some pipes in the wall flexing and rattling. I heard the autodeoderizer chirping, alerting whoever cared that the canister inside of it needed to be replaced. Someone in the women's restroom was flushing a toilet; someone in the hallway was getting a drink at the water fountain.
I found this exercise quite rewarding. I must go in and out of that restroom a million times a day (trying to get enough hydration in my life, you know). I've never noticed any of those sounds before, ever. I felt like I was entering uncharted territory; I felt like the john was brand new. It occurred to me later that I might be practicing a sort of mindfulness. I made a conscious decision to be present in that moment in that stinky room. I became aware of a world that goes unnoticed though it is right under my nose. In order to do these things, I had to shut out conscious thought and make myself still from within and without. I had to listen. How else might my world change if I chose to be present, chose to my make myself still and to listen? The possibilities become numerous.
And if you believe in God/higher power, what better way to thank he/she/it then by taking an inventory of the world he/she/it created for you? I think that if you do, then that is the first step to creating a world in which we'd all like to live.