If you want it, you might get it.
Our brains are incredibly complex. We can sift through billions of bits of data at any given time. And somehow, so we don’t short circuit, we have to organize that information. The Reticular Activating System helps with that.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through.
Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favor without you actively doing anything.
In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.
Some people suggest that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. They call it “setting your intent.” This basically means that if you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.
If you care about positivity, for example, you will become more aware of and seek positivity. If you really want a pet turtle and set your intent on getting one, you’ll tune in to the right information that helps you do that.
When you look at it this way, The Law of Attraction doesn’t seem so mystical. Focus on the bad things and you will invite negativity into your life. Focus on the good things and they will come to you, because your brain is seeking them out. It’s not magic, it’s your Reticular Activating System influencing the world you see around you.
For instance, if you’re looking for a computer file that you’re sure you placed on your desk, your RAS alerts your brain to search for the name of the file — Andrews vs. State of Illinois, say — or focus on one word in the filename to help you find it. ( Graphic )
The Power of Focusing On What You Want (How your brain’s Reticular Activating System functions in your favor)
Back in May 1957, Scientific American published an article describing the discovery of the “reticular formation” at the base of the brain … this is basically the gateway to your conscious awareness
“Just like a computer, your brain has a search function–but it’s even more phenomenal than a computer’s. It seems to be programmed by what we focus on and, more primarily, what we identify with. It’s the seat of what many people have referred to as the paradigms we maintain.
“We notice only what matches our internal belief systems and identified contexts. If you’re an optometrist, for example, you’ll tend to notice people wearing eyeglasses across a crowded room; if you’re building contractor, you may notice the room’s physical details,”
“If you focus on the color red right now and then just glance around your environment, if there is any red at all, you’ll see even the tiniest bits of it.”
Neuroscience Tells Us How to Hack Our Brains for Success
As Ruben Gonzalez, author of The Courage to Succeed, explains, “Even though the cerebrum is the center of thought, it will not respond to a message unless the RAS allows it. The RAS is like Google. There are millions of websites out there, but you filter out the ones you are not interested in simply by typing a keyword.”
So, what messages get through? Pretty much just the ones that are currently important to you. For example, if you’re focused on preparing for a speaking engagement then your RAS is going to filter in the thoughts that are going to make your presentation a success, such as the tools and resources you’ll need to deliver a memorable speech.
As Gonzalez adds, “This means the more you keep your goals ‘top of mind,’ the more your subconscious mind will work to reach them. That’s why writing your goals down every day, visualizing your intended outcome and regularly saying affirmations is so important! Doing those things truly does help you to focus your subconscious mind on what’s important to you.”