The Power of RAS
You can prime your brain to recognize opportunities that will help you reach your goals.
See if this sounds familiar: your mother calls to say she’s bought a new car – let’s say it’s a silver Toyota Yaris – which surprises you since you’ve never heard of this car before. The next day, however, you start to see this car everywhere you go, and many of them are silver, too! How is this possible?
This is the magic of your brain’s filtering system, known as the Reticular Activating System, or RAS.
The RAS is what allows us to sharpen our attention, and it can be primed to notice, or not notice, certain things.
Parents of newborns are familiar with the RAS, as it is what allows them to sleep through just about anything, like traffic noise or a blaring television, yet wake up at the slightest peep from their baby. This is due to their RAS being biologically primed to hear when a child is in need.
This is the same mechanism that will allow you to hear when your name is mentioned across the room at a loud party. Despite the music and dozens of simultaneous conversations, when this happens your ears will perk up and you’ll find yourself suddenly being able to overhear a conversation that was mere background noise just seconds earlier.
What’s more, the RAS can also help you achieve your goals. When you write those clearly defined goals on paper, you’ll prime your brain to begin its unconscious work on the project.
After you write down your goals, your RAS filter will constantly be on the lookout for messages or information that will help your quest. So, after writing down that you want enough money to open a restaurant, you’ll be primed to overhear someone at a party who says they have a history of investing in restaurants. Otherwise you never would have noticed.