Published with permission

By Bryan Hyde

Situational awareness is paying attention to what’s happening around you that could potentially affect you. 


It’s a term often associated with fighter pilots or police officers who must be capable of spotting and dealing with potential threats as quickly as possible. But it can also improve our ability to recognize the good in the world.

Situational awareness is often taught with a color code that depicts how we perceive what’s going on around us.

A person in condition white is someone whose mind is occupied by things other than their immediate environment. They may be focused on their smart phone or thinking about things they need to do.

Condition yellow, on the other hand, is a relaxed awareness of what’s happening around us.

Condition orange is a heightened awareness of what could be a specific problem or threat.

Closeup of a traffic light by night in Israel. Red light.
N Rotteveel

Condition red is a very focused awareness of a potential danger that requires immediate response.

Not surprisingly, most people tend to live their lives in condition white.

The sweet spot of situational awareness is found in condition yellow. This is not the same thing as walking around in a state of grim-faced paranoia.

It means being mentally present and appreciating what is around us. 

This can include recognizing the fleeting beauty of a sunrise, a person holding the door for someone else or even the secret smile shared between two people in love.

Situational awareness can help us recognize potential danger. It can also help us see beauty we might have missed.

* Hyde In Plain Sight is written by KDXU personality Bryan Hyde. Catch his daily HIPS vignette at 7:50-ish every weekday morning on KDXU and listen to The Bryan Hyde Show weekends at 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday nights.

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