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How to Train Your Brain

Have you ever bought a new car or bike, and then suddenly started recognising the same one everywhere you went? Have you ever learned a new word only to hear it again the very next day in a completely unrelated conversation? Have you ever been in a noisy bar that drowned out the sound of everything, except your name being spoken by a friend across the room? 

 

It may seem like a coincidence, but it's actually your Reticular Activating System (RAS) at work. The RAS is a bundle of nerves that sits in your brain stem and its job is to act as a filter of sorts between your mind and the outside world. We are constantly inundated with more information than our brains can handle, and the RAS is responsible for picking out what’s important enough to get through. The rest is sent to spam.  

 

The neat part is, all of this happens without you having to do anything - the RAS is like your personal autopilot mode. It runs in the background of your subconscious mind, looking out for the things that are relevant and important to you. It also tends to look out for information that will validate your beliefs and worldviews. So, if you tend to believe that most people drive like lunatics, you’ll probably notice a lot of people who fit into that category (while ignoring the ones that don’t). If you hold the belief that your twin flame exists somewhere out there, you’ll likely be a lot more open to finding someone that matches your vibe. The RAS can influence not only what you see, but your behaviour, too.

 

The RAS is an amazing piece of equipment. Unfortunately, it can’t tell the difference between what might be helpful to you or what will send you into a downward spiral of self-doubt. It only looks for what you program it to pay attention to - that is to say, whatever you’re focusing on. When we dwell on the irritating or disappointing things that could happen, our minds tend to stay on the lookout for any signs of trouble. It often ends up that we find what we're looking for, which only confirms the existing biases we hold.  However, when we focus on what is going well or what outcome we want, our RAS will find even more things that are going well. It will highlight the opportunities, solutions, and silver linings in front of us. 

 

When you consider the potential power of the brain, things like superstition, karma, prayer, and the law of attraction make sense. “With our thoughts, we make the world,” said Buddha (apparently), and even without having a background in brain science, it seems like he was onto something real! 

 

I’m not trying to say that miracles don’t happen, or that you can just simply and quickly ‘manifest your dreams’ to get whatever you want in life. But, I do believe that by using the RAS to our advantage, we can program our minds to be more positive, resilient, and open to seeing the possibilities that life has to offer. Would you like to give it a try?

 

For the next 30 days, before you fall asleep at night, think about the 3 best things that happened in your day and write them down. It could be something that you did, or something that happened to you. It could be something that you saw or heard. Any moments that made you smile or laugh or feel warm inside, write them down. (Bonus points if you can share this with a partner or your children!) Then as soon as you wake up in the morning, read what you wrote down the night before. That’s all. 

 

Do this, for 30 days, and let me know how you feel. What have you got to lose?

 

Not only will you be ending your day, and starting your next one, on a positive note - doing this will help train your RAS to be on the lookout for even more things that can bring joy into your life.

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