The prophet Jeremiah denounced the men of his generation for their heedlessness. “No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns away in his course as the horse rushes headlong in the battle” (Jer. 8:6). They were driven on by the force of habit, never stopping to realize what they were doing, until they came to grief. (Luzzatto, The Path of the Upright, chapter II)
We live in an age that praises spontaneity and action, that considers “just doing it”, to paraphrase the Nike ad, a great virtue. But the character change that lies at the heart of Mussar requires awareness of our own behavior and reactions, or what Luzzatto terms “watchfulness.” Instead of going with habit or impulse, we are to be aware and watchful of our behavior.
To complete nearly any task necessitates a fair amount of awareness. To play a game one needs to be aware of its rules. To walk across the street unharmed one must be aware of the traffic conditions. These things also require focus. Yet it seems that the more one focuses on one particular thing, the less aware that same person can become concerning everything else.
There’s never a dull moment around our house. As I’ve been preparing to write an article about the middah of awareness, my wife has found two stray ladybugs in our kitchen. She has made it her personal mission this Sunday to make sure they are fed and watered before she sends them off into the wild world. She has an acute awareness of so much around her. Even the little bugs in our home get her attention. At the same time, I’m considering a verse from Torah that teaches the principles of caring for our neighbor’s property and having a general concern for other.
And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. —Matthew 6:28–29
Rav Yisrael Salanter zt”l was once invited by one of his talmidim (disciples) to the Friday night Shabbat meal. He told his talmid that he does not eat out without first knowing how the meal is going to be run.
"All of Israel is responsible for one another." —Shavuot 39a
Rabbi Eliezer says: "Let other peoples dignity be as precious to you as
your own." —Pirkei Avot 2:15
Rabbi Akiva would say, "Human beings are beloved because they were created in the image of God. It is an even greater love that this was made know to humanity, as it says, 'and in the image of God were people created.'" -Pirkei Avot 3:14
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?" — Rumi
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." — Albert Einstein
"In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you." — Leo Tolstoy
"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it." — Andy Rooney
"Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others." — Susan Sontag
"You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down." — Charles Chaplin
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." — John Wooden
The books of Martin Buber, and especially his seminal work "I-and-Thou", allow us, it seems to me, to distinguish with better precision between Olam Haze and Olam Haba, using criteria which are meaningful to the individual and communal life of any educated reader, be (s)he Christian or Jew, religious or secular or even an agnostic.
In his "I-and-Thou", Buber distinguishes between two types of human existence which are characterised by two kinds of relationship: "I-Thou" and "I-It". Taking exception to the way Buber's originally German book was translated to Hebrew, I propose that what he calls "it" is what is in Biblical and Modern Hebrew "Ze" to denote "that", and denotes a form of distancing and alienation. From the alienated relationship between self and other or self and environment grows an alienated world. It is possible to point at different types of alienation, and they seem to multiply. Buber was concerned both with alienation between people and the alienation between humans and God, which is, of course, the alienation that concerned the author of Genesis and our sages of blessed memory.
The most crucial question is perhaps the amount of alienation in inter-human relation and the recognition of each person as a brother and a "thou". (Many traditional societies which might have had an extremely strong inner solidarity probably did not recognize the native of the next village or next valley as a human identical to themselves and certainly not the native of another continent with a different skin color). The real test, in my opinion, to the emergence from the "Olam Haze" state of alienation to "Olam Haba"(world to come) is that each human being receives any other one as "welcome". —Dr. Yitzhak I. Hayutman 
The Hebrew for awareness is mudaut. Living on the third rock from the sun, we are very aware what would happen if we were closer to the sun or further away. Life is not supported on the planets on either side of us and neither is our conspicuous placement coincidental; rather, it is perfect, intentional and life-giving. How we tune our awareness beyond this simple knowledge can be life-giving as well.
The phrase, “creatures of habit,” is not infrequently used to describe us human beings. This is not surprising given our social/cultural norms and natural makeup. Religious ritual is often seen as a reflection of our habitual nature.
Use these questions to evaluate your day: