RAS is an acronym for Reticular Activating System. The best definition I have found for RAS is on the Learning and the Brain website: “The Reticular Activating System (RAS), which is in the lower part of the posterior brain, filters all incoming stimuli and makes the “decision” as to what people attend to or ignore. Information constantly comes into the brain from the body’s sensory receptors. At any given moment we are experiencing sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile input. It is impossible for us to be consciously aware of all of this sensory information. Therefore the brain has a filter (the RAS) that selects the sensory information to which we consciously attend.”
The Science Direct website defines it as follows: “It is a network of neurons located in the brain stem that project anteriorly to the hypothalamus to mediate behavior…”
An example of your reticular activating system working is when you are thinking about purchasing a particular car or maybe you have already purchased a new car. Now when you are driving around town, you will see that particular car although you have not noticed it in the past. Your RAS zeros in on the specific area of interest you are focused on at the moment.
It is also working when you are reading a magazine, surfing the internet, or reviewing email in your inbox. Your mind is constantly filtering out anything that is not relevant to you.
It is the part of the brain that, unfortunately, most people never use or try to control. It acts as sort of a filter to tell us what to focus on and lets through what’s important to use at the time. It impacts our focus and what we think.
Your thoughts affect every cell of your body impacting both your mental and physical health. Studies have shown your thoughts can literally kill you. Yes, you read that right. Your thoughts can kill you.
Think about some older adults who get to their twilight years and lose their motivation to go on with life. Many times it’s a matter of them losing interest in life and not having a curious nature. losing their sense of curiosity. This leads to no hope for tomorrow and shortens their life. Think about the older people you know who have hobbies, interests, and social stimuli. They tend to live longer, happier lives. Their RAS has been trained to focus on the positive things in their life.
On the other hand, if you are focusing on all the negative aspects of your life, then your reticular activating system gives you more of that. It strengthens your belief system in a negative way. This leads to your negative thoughts becoming your reality. People tend to think of what they don’t want more than what they do want.
Can you see the power in this? Let’s say you get up every morning (starting tomorrow) and you are thinking business growth, thinking success, and actively looking for money-making opportunities. Do you think that would make for a much more effective and productive day than turning on the TV and tuning into the national news to see what bad things have happened in the last 24 hours? Do you think your chances of succeeding in your business would improve dramatically?
In Earl Nightingale’s timeless book The Strangest Secret, he said, “We become what we think about most of the time.”
The good news is you can actually reprogram your RAS. It believes whatever you consistently tell it.
This is simple stuff, but it requires self-awareness and the willingness to put in the effort to make the shift. Again, I want to emphasis, this is not about “positive thinking”. This is about a real physiological and psychological shift that will change your mental and physical well-being. This will contribute to a better business and a better life.
Bottom line. Your RAS affects every part of your being. By intentionally activating your RAS in a positive way, you increase your chances for a lsuccessful buisness along with a long, fulfilling, and happy life. Don’t you think it’s worth putting in the effort to do this?
Charles Stanley said, “You are young and useful at any age as long as you are planning for tomorrow.” Notice he didn’t say worrying about tomorrow or fretting over what may or may not happen. He said planning for tomorrow. More importantly, planning for a successful and happy tomorrow hence activating you RAS in a positive way.
A book that I always highly recommend to anyone in sales (and we are all in sales) is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. In his book, he states, “When you keep your thoughts focused on all the positive things in your life and the positive things you want to happen in your life, you awaken and purposefully focus your subconscious to create outstanding improvements on every front.” Your RAS is the attitude programmer of the brain.
Some argue over the “fake it till you make it” mindset, but there is scientific evidence to back up the fact that it works. Your thoughts will change your attitude, which will increase the chances of you putting in the work to make what you believe your reality. But I want to stress you must take action for this to work.
4 Simple Ways To Activate Your RAS
- Change your environment. Rearrange your office space. Move your desk to another part of the room.
- Play background music that motivates you and energizes you. Music that relaxes you can be just as effective. This is where self-awareness becomes important.
- Learn something new. Make a list of questions relate to a topic you want to learn and start researching the topic – Google, YouTube, take a class, reading, etc. Just getting started putting one foot in front of the other step-by-step is sometimes all the motivation you need.
- Set goals. This will focus your attention on anything that will help you accomplish your specific goal.
When your RAS is activated, it increases the level of dopamine in the system. The release of dopamine increases focus and memory. With increased focus, your level of curiosity increases along with your ability to learn.
Once you start intentionally using your reticular activating system (RAS), your level of curiosity will naturally increase. As your curiosity increases, you will learn to direct your focus on more important tasks related to what you want to improve.
The Oxford dictionary defines curiosity as “eager to learn or know something.” Many of the problems of the world could be solved if people were a little more curious about various topics. If they were eager to learn or know more about business, health, and other areas of their life…they would have better business and a better life.
Unfortunately, social media is the extent of most people’s curiosity and research learning more about a topic. And I will just call that what it is…LAZY!
But if you are reading this blog post, you are probably in the elite group that has activated their reticular activation system in a positive way and is curious about various topics. You are specifically seeking knowledge about business growth, copywriting, marketing, and sales.
How can you increase your curiosity?
- Be willing to look dumb. No one knows everything. And if they think they do, that is your first clue they don’t. Be willing to ask “stupid” questions to get the information you need. Don’t be shy. Question everything to get the information you need.
- Read, read, read. Find something you are really interested in and dig deep to learn everything you can about that particular topic. Go to your local bookstore or library (not online). Seek information. If you are a slow reader, take a speed reading course. Google speed-reading or go to YouTube. You will find lots of resources on how to improve your reading skills. Listen to audio books. Get a subscription to Audible.
- Read fiction in addition to reading non-fiction. Authors of fictional material generally do a lot of research to create their works, so there is a hint of truth in all fiction along with opportunity to expand your knowledge.
- Don’t rely on Google and social media for all your information. Look for additional sources for information.
- Lighten up and open your mind to new ideas. Try something different. Consider the fact that you may be wrong about certain things you may believe. Do your research and be open to new opinions and ideas.
- Get out of the “I’m bored!” trap. With more opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge available than ever before, how could you possibly be bored. Want to learn how to play guitar? Go to YouTube and start watching videos. Want to learn how to cook? Go to YouTube and watch a few videos. Take advantage of this amazing information age we are living in now. Or maybe you are interested in many things and can’t focus. That’s okay. Find videos on multiple topics, start watching, and something will pop out as more interesting than the other things you may have thought about.
I’m not saying all this is easy. Using your RAS to your advantage and developing your curiosity takes work. But you have to make a decision as to what kind of business and life you want for yourself and your family. Do you want mediocrity or do you want things to change. If you want things to change, you need to know the underlying things that will make that change happen.
Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on solving the problem.
Hopefully this article has given you a few things to think about to create a better business and a better life. Remember…your reality will always be in alignment with your thoughts.
All the best,