Wikipedia defines the reticular activating system (RAS), or extrathalamic control modulatory system, as a set of connected nuclei in the brains of vertebrates that is responsible for regulating wakefulness and sleep-wake transitions. As its name implies, its most influential component is the reticular formation. This is awesome technical mumbo jumbo.
Here is what it means: The RAS is the part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. The RAS, located in the core of your brain stem, takes instructions from your conscious mind, and passes them on to your subconscious mind.
The concept is one of visualization and dreaming. We can train our minds in certain ways to see and hear certain things.
Here are two examples:
- I am a very heavy sleeper—you could have a marching band in my room and it would probably not wake me up—but whisper my name from a distance and I am awake. Cleary, my brain likes hearing my name; it is tuned to it. The same happens in crowded, noisy rooms. You will most likely tune out everything around you, but if someone in another part of the room says your name, you will probably hear it.
- A couple of years ago, I was shopping for a new car. I had my choices narrowed down to three. One day I was visiting a client and as I left their garage I counted nine cars of one of the models I was considering. You may think that is normal since you see the same models every day. The car I saw over and over was the Audi A7, of which there aren’t many on the road. I don’t know if it was the universe telling me something or my subconscious alerting me. Ever notice how when you buy a new car, you see it everywhere?
Why is all this important? There is science behind reticular activation. You can train your mind to help in the manifestation of your goal. Train it to look for opportunities that will guide you towards your goal, whatever it is: buying a house, buying a car, closing that sale, landing that whale. You can also train it to change your outlook and your mood. Try it!
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, visualized being a famous cartoonist and writer. When he started visualizing it he was neither. It took him a few years of affirmations and visualizations to realize his dreams, but he says that along the way he was pushed in certain directions, met certain people, and made certain decisions that led him to where he is. Was it luck or the universe speaking to him?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—You’re right.” —Henry Ford
Have a great weekend.
About Friday Food for Thought (FFfT)
I frequently attend conferences and retreats on entrepreneurship and leadership and while I am away, the J2 team picks up the slack, allowing me to learn to be better at what I do. I wanted to share what I was learning with my team, so I created the weekly FFfT emails in November of 2015 and have been writing them ever since.
Before long, the J2 staff began sharing the FFfT emails with their friends and family and now other leaders have asked to be included, which led to the creation of this newsletter. I hope you enjoy!