Once these five levels of mental awareness are understood, it is easy to gauge your own state of awareness at any given time. As martial artists, we must strive to avoid the white level under most circumstances. Many people are within the white level even when they are faced with unfamiliar surroundings. Staying somewhere inside the yellow level, even in familiar surroundings, is a good self-defense strategy. The change from yellow level to the orange should be a common, easy, and undetectable occurrence. There are many situations in which people find themselves that call for the orange level of awareness.
Being prepared to defend yourself and being paranoid are two distinctly different outlooks. Remaining constantly within the yellow level and moving easily into and out of the orange level is simply a state of mental awareness that must be practiced. Like fighting skills, this too will become second nature in a short time. You must develop this awareness without becoming nervous, paranoid, and without allowing it to affect your outward appearance or actions. As the motto of the Boy Scouts states, "Be Prepared" or, as your mother always says, "Better safe than sorry."