We as living beings are able to navigate and function in the world around us by perceiving the data through our sensory organs. You know the sensory organs right? Well just in case, they are your eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin. In some cases, perhaps a higher sense may be involved also known as the sixth sense (a topic for another discussion).
You’d be amazed to find out that there a billions if not trillions of bits of information floating around us. Maybe even more. Everything from the word you’re reading now, to the colour of your phone, to the slight touch of air on your body, to the sounds of cars and more are all information. There’s a lot of it. It can be anything. Imagine taking in and processing all this information. Boom! we might explode. Its too much data at any given moment.
But we can’t survive without taking in and processing data either. This is where the reticular activating system comes in.
What is it?
It is essentially a system of neurons placed in the brain stem that work to filter in and out all the data around us. As mentioned earlier, taking in and processing all the data that we receive may short circuit our brain. We don’t want that.
The RAS, works to make sure that only important and relevant data is processed and taken in so that our brains can work with that. The biggest question, what is the relevant data?
Ahh! This is the tricky bit
Your RAS decides on the important data by listening to you. Yup, you decide what your reticular activating system takes in. Whatever you focus on the most, intentionally or unintentionally, your RAS picks up on that and uses it as guidelines to filter information coming from our surroundings. Pretty awesome yet kind of scary right.
If our mind tends to wander too often and fall into a state of negative thinking, your RAS, tries to find more negative things around you to strengthen your belief on the same. For example, if you constantly say “I don’t have time”, your RAS will find relevant info to support your idea of not having enough time. It doesn’t end there. The more proof you see of “not having time”, the stronger your belief about not having it. This in turn makes the RAS look for even more proof of the same. It’s a vicious cycle.
The same can be true for anything. If you wake up and have the practice of being grateful for the things in your life, your RAS looks for more things to be grateful for. Its a natural process. This in turn will make you more grateful and your life will generally get better.
If you stop right now and take a moment to look at your life from above, I can guarantee you will find both positive and negative aspects. This is true for the most and least successful people on the planet. There will always be something good and relatively bad. If you consciously choose to focus on the good, your mind will try to saturate itself with more of the good. This is a powerful tool of awareness. You can literally change the way you feel and live just by switching your attention on the positive stuff.
Getting out of a cycle is a challenge, but always doable. Practicing awareness helps. Be aware and tell yourself that you are aware. This way, it becomes easier to catch yourself when you accidentally fall into a negative pattern of thinking. All you have to do is replace it with a positive thought. Change will happen. When you stop feeding the negative thoughts, eventually they die off!
Consciously rewiring your RAS to work in favour for you can help you with achieving your life goals. This is essentially a mindset shift. The mindset is now focusing on what can be done to reach the said goals. Of course there will be down times as with any aspect if life. But the objective is to get back up quickly and move forward. Having an RAS that’s trained to suit your needs can help you get back up and move ahead a lot quicker. Keep these things in mind.
What are your thoughts on RAS? Let us know what they are in the comments below!