You know this weird thing… You may have never noticed a certain car… If someone talks about that specific car, you don’t even have a clue what it looks like… Then your friend buys that car and all of a sudden you notice it everywhere….
The reason is simple: it is now important for your brain to notice… Because hey, I might see my friend…
The reticular activating system (RAS) is the part of your brain that is in charge of prioritising, noticing and delivering information… The RAS is in charge of deciding what to notice, what to pay attention to and what to ignore. There are millions of bits of data available to you every second but you only notice a tiny selection of those. What you notice and what goes unnoticed is up to your RAS.
Simply out your RAS notices what is of value to you. Which is nothing more than what is in alignment with your unconscious values and beliefs.
You can massively influence what your RAS notices. A few years ago I was in the US and I needed to mail something, hence I needed to find a postbox. My brain was looking for something red… Needless to say it didn’t work. I mean, I noticed a heck of a lot of people wearing red t-shirt, jumpers or shoes. I noticed red cars and posters. But no mailbox to be seen. Until I was reminded that those things are actually blue in the US….
Duh! As soon as I told my brain to start looking for blue… bing I found what I needed.
You’re probably thinking, common Silke, how often do I need that…? Well, I agree you probably don’t…
RAS for better relationships
But let’s say you want to improve a relationship with yourself, your boss, coworker, dog, child, friend or significant other. It is a common tendency to not notice all the amazing stuff about them, the stuff they rock at… In which case you want to give yourself a mission: Every morning ask you RAS to notice everything that person does well today, every time they make you smile or laugh, every nice thing they do. And every night write down at least 7 positive things you noticed…
Then observe your relationship transform!
This is also why gratitude journals work… You are giving importance to noticing things to be grateful for. And the more you notice that, the happier you get. Fact.
Let’s say you want to improve your golf tee-off swing. (I know nothing about golf, so this will be fun…) Ask your RAS to notice everything you do well. It might be how you place your feet or how you hold your hips or how you naturally grip that club…
Let’s say you have a problem with your follow through. Ask your RAS to notice all the people who do that part of the swing particularly well… And how they do that part of the swing.
We are so good at paying way too much attention to our problems. Ask your RAS to pay attention to what is working for a change.
Have fun influencing your RAS!
Today I am grateful for our fireplace… I so enjoy putting the fireplace on in the late afternoon. It is a true mindfulness exercise. I am just in the moment, watching the flames… So I’ll go and do just that now.