Please enjoy the video that I put together which has the entire blog post.
Transcript is below for those who cannot play the video.
I have a riddle for you…
What weighs three pounds, is about 60% fat and is absolutely amazing? Want a hint? It’s NOT cheesecake. The answer is: Your Brain!
Your brain is one of the most miraculous things on the planet and it is capable of absolutely incredible stuff. Let’s take a closer look.. In fact, let’s look at one part specifically.
The part is called the reticular activating system (RAS). This bundle of neurons performs an amazing function… It basically functions as a targeting system and as a filter. We tell it what we are looking for and it either magnifies an input or it deletes it according to what we told it to do. It is like the security guard that decides what gets to have an audience with our conscious mind based on what we’ve told it is relevant and important.
So, how does it magnify? Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to buy a car. You do your research. You read. You look on the internet. Finally, you decide on the type of car that you want. One of the things that you love about this new car is that it’s kind of unique… You’ve never really seen any of them around before. Well, as soon as you decide on that car you start seeing them absolutely everywhere. It’s like overnight they unloaded a cargo ship and flooded the streets with them. The input of seeing that particular car is magnified.
The truth is the cars were always there. It’s just that we had never considered them relevant. Since they weren’t relevant not only did the RAS not magnify the input… it actually deleted the input so that it never even had a chance to enter the conscious mind.
You see… When you look at our five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing) there is an incredible amount of data that enters the brain for processing every second of every day. Some estimate that the input is in the millions of bits of information flooding our nervous system at any given moment. The conscious mind, however, can only handle about 130 pieces of information at a time. Enter the RAS. This part of your amazing brain gets to decide what gets to have an audience with the conscious mind, what gets magnified, and, quite simply what gets deleted.
In reality, we’re deleting all the time behind the scenes. For example, right now you aren’t aware of the pressure of the elastic band of your left sock… until you read it. Now, suddenly, you are noticing the pressure of the band. You weren’t aware of the pressure of your watch against your wrist, the sound of your own breathing or the feeling of your heart beating in your chest, until you read it. Again, suddenly, the RAS says, “Oh, that must be relevant… I’ll let the input through.” Thank you, RAS, for sheltering us from this constant barrage of low priority input! Can you imagine trying to have a conversation or read or do anything if you were constantly aware of all input from every one of the five senses? It would be impossible!
So, how does this impact our lives? Remember when I said that the RAS filters some things out while it magnifies other things? Well here’s the beautiful part… You get to customize it! It will magnify what you deem relevant and it will proceed to delete the rest; and it makes these judgements based on your beliefs.
Believe that the world is full of wonderful people and you will see….. more wonderful people. Believe that the world is full of nasty selfish people and the wonderful people won’t even be noticed, they will be deleted as your RAS magnifies nastiness.
What we think about grows. What we forget atrophies… Sound familiar? It should. It’s one of the laws of the mind. And it’s also a guiding principle of so much of what we have been doing in the MKMMA! When we focus consistently on positive conditions we are actually training our RAS. We are calibrating it, so to speak. On the flip side, as we calibrate it to look for and magnify the positive you can guess what happens to the negative input… Writing accomplishments on cards and reviewing them. Writing grattitudes on cards and reviewing them. Disciplining ourselves to live the “Mental Diet” abstaining from all negative thought. Consciously observing for virtues in our daily life… It’s all part of a calibration process. We are changing the rules for the RAS… dialing it in, so to speak.
Can you imagine what life would be like if it was not a choice to have a positive mindset but it was simply automatic? Or what it would be like if you didn’t have to try to stay positive in spite of a negative experience. Rather, so much of the negative was simply deleted so that your conscious mind didn’t even have to deal with it? Imagine a filter, like a mental bodyguard, who makes sure that the only stuff that gets through is the stuff that’s good for you.
Just imagine… It’s easy if you try… Keep doing the work in the MKMMA and you won’t have to imagine for much longer. See you there!