Have you ever wondered how much data comes on our way every day and moment?
How many pieces of information are available to you at this very moment. How many objects can you see around you? Would you even be able to count them all? Now think of all the different characteristics these objects have: the details, the colors, the shapes, etc. A single object like a doorknob can have dozens of parts.
Imagine all the details on a busy street (the people, the cars, the houses) - too many to count and describe.
How come our brain can process all that data? It doesn’t! This is where the RAS - reticular activation system comes into play.
This is a system in our brain - a gatekeeper that decides what information is let in and what is not - most of what we see or hear doesn’t enter our mind - we won’t become aware of it. If all the data around us would come in, our brains would probably fry in a split of a second.
In other words, the RAS is what we focus on - what at that particular moment is of value to us. You might have a really interesting conversation with your friend (where your RAS is at), but if there’s suddenly a loud noise coming in, your RAS will immediately shift - as for your brain this new source of data is a lot more valuable at that moment in time.
If you’ve ever bought, e.g., a red item of clothing only to start noticing red everywhere - especially if other people are wearing red - this is RAS at play.
If you become really interested in something - let’s say photography, then whenever some information related to photography enters your field - you’ll be immediately focused on that. E.g., you see someone with a camera; your focus will be on that camera really quickly. The ‘gatekeeper’ will almost prioritize that information as it has value to us.
Our selective focus also plays a role in our thoughts and mindsets.
If you generally focus on complaining and problems, then all you see is problems and issues. On the other hand, people who have a positive mindset, will (mostly) see opportunities and solutions.
Chances are you’ve heard about the “Secret.” Many people critizise it for being a woo-woo sham. Looking at it from the RAS perspective, it doesn’t seem that magical anymore.
Of course, you still need to actually take action, as nothing is going to magically manifest itself if you simply think about it. The Secret works, but only if you take action.
If you’re dreaming about a house and a car and a good life, then go ahead, hang pictures of those things around you but also work towards to get them. I have a friend who did just that. There are probably countless examples of people praising the law of attraction. E.g., Conor McGregor has told that he visualizes success hard. But does he sit at home and think about being the best MMA fighter in the world? Or does he actually go to the gym? Obviously rhetorical questions.