As we wind down our week of posting no negativity and at least one positive thing a day, there is something I was reminded of that I would like to share with you. In my upcoming book, Living the Dream, I explain the science behind the power and importance of a grateful and positive mindset. In a very brief explanation, keeping this mindset activates a part of our brain called the reticular activating system or RAS for short. This part of our brain modulates our sensory information. In other words, out of the information we take in, it decides what is important and worth noticing. The best way I can explain this is through an example. Have you ever noticed when you buy a new car or outfit, you suddenly see that car or outfit everywhere? Let me ask you, did everyone see that you bought it and then went out and bought it themselves? Unless your last name is Kardashian or some other internet influencer, I am sure you know the answer is ‘no’. So why are you seeing those cars and outfits all of sudden? They were there all of the time. Your brain has now decided, “Hey this is like our car/outfit and worth noticing!”
The ‘secret’, if you will, to all of this is that this area of your brain is always working. Most of us, however, have it in the default setting. It notices whatever we are focused on at the moment. Been watching the news and seeing the world go down the drain? Yep, you will notice examples of that everywhere. Researching that new puppy you would like to buy? Suddenly you will notice your neighbors out walking their puppies. The dangerous part of this is that is works whether what we are focused on is positive or negative. We can all agree at any given moment in time there are both positive and negative things going on in the world. What we are focused on will determine what we experience to a greater degree. Some people may confuse this with becoming ignorant of all the challenges the world is facing. This is no more true than knowing there are other cars on the road and outfits on people other than yours. It is what we are focused on and feeling most intensely.
Knowing every day that I would need something positive to write about, my brain started to be on the lookout for such an event. This happened even when I was consciously engaged in something else. This is one of the great side-effects of developing a habit of devoting a portion of your morning focused on gratitude. If you do this first thing every morning you brain will begin to lookout for things you could record in your ‘gratitude journal’. Imagine all day having a mind that is on the lookout for things that are positive or that you should be grateful for. These posts have reminded me what a powerful thing this can be. Our life improves greatly when we take control of our mind and put it to work for us.