Category Archives: self-help

Learning 681

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.


Learning 679

You can only be successful if you avoid mental near- and farsightedness.

Maybe you’ve learned to live with some sort of visual impairment. But what if you suffer from mental near- or farsightedness? Such dysfunctional mentality will bar your way to success.

So what is mental nearsightedness? It means you’re unable to see the possibilities lying in your future. Perhaps you fail to understand the importance of planning and having goals to strive for, or you waste all your energy tackling problems that are right in front of you, and are blind to the bigger picture.

But being able to plan for the future is one of our biggest evolutionary advantages. Take Dick Pope, a man who wasn’t blinded by mental nearsightedness. Pope saw an opportunity to build a tourist attraction on the farmland surrounding the town of Winter Haven, Florida, where others saw nothing but desolate swampland. So he bought an old cypress swamp and turned it into the now famous Cypress Gardens. 

He also offered photography equipment and free advice on taking pictures, giving tourists the joy of going home with wonderful pictures to show their friends, thereby spreading word of the gardens.

And it’s not just nearsightedness that hurts your success: mentally farsighted people have problems, too.
They want to leap immediately to the top. They dream of the future but forget to work on the things they need to get there. Consequently, they fail to reach their goals and don’t take the opportunities that are right in front of them every day.

And such everyday opportunities are often the most lucrative. Consider the paper clip or the Post-It note. Both are simple designs to solve a tiny, yet widespread problem. People who recognize such everyday problems can generate millions. Mentally farsighted people never grasp this.

So, if you want to be successful, you must notice the opportunities in front of you, but also plan out how you want to make your mark on the world.

Learning 678

Fire and water have strong primal powers that can be used to your advantage.
Humans were using fire and water in their rituals long before pen and paper were invented, and these basic elements still have a primal power to influence us and help us succeed.

Water is an especially powerful source of creative power. Julian Jaynes was an influential psychologist who pointed out that we often make our most groundbreaking discoveries while we’re in bed, in the bath or on the bus.

Of these three B’s, how powerful the bath can be. This is due in part to how many sacred religious stories, poems, myths and paintings depict the powerful forces of water.

It’s no coincidence that it was while stepping into the bath that Archimedes had his famous “eureka!” moment that led to Archimedes’ principle. When he entered the bath, he noticed that the water level rose, and suddenly realized that you could measure this rise to determine the precise volume of an object.

And just as water can cleanse the body, being in or around a body of water can also cleanse the mind, which is one of the best ways to promote creativity.

Fire, on the other hand, can be used in rituals to give power to your intention. Indeed, Native American tribes have been using fire rituals for this very purpose for generations. At the start of a new year, certain tribes build arrows from sticks and feathers, and each of these arrows is made to represent a specific hope for the year ahead. They then burn the arrows as a gesture of offering this hope to the universe.

This is a wonderful ritual because it helps them be clear and precise about their hopes, thereby helping these hopes become a reality.

You can do the same thing with paper by writing down three goals you hope to achieve and three unwanted things that you hope to get rid of. Then, find a safe place and set fire to the paper to give a powerful intention to your desires.

With all these tools at hand, it will soon be clear that you have what it takes to turn dreams into reality.

No dream is too big for you to achieve, as long as you have the right attitude. Too often, our fears get in the way of what we hope to accomplish. But this can be remedied by writing down all that we desire and fear, thereby unlocking the power of the subconscious mind and putting us on the right path. The simple act of writing is a powerful one that is not unlike a prayer, and it can turn us into a magnet for the things we want most in our lives.

Start your day off by writing down your intent.
Take some quiet time at the beginning of your day to write down what you’d like to accomplish in the hours ahead. This is not for practical stuff like doing the laundry or going shopping. It’s to provide emotional and spiritual guidance for the day, such as “being the best mother I can be.” Just writing your intent down will keep you feeling grateful and positive throughout the day.


Learning 677

Never give up and always look out for any missing pieces that can help you on your path.

Oftentimes, our plans don’t quite come to fruition because one last piece of the puzzle was missing – the crowning glory that would’ve made your project a huge success. People with a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) know that they always need to be on the lookout for this last piece.

Everyone who can see their final goal on the horizon should stop and ask themselves what this last piece might be. If you let a negative attitude creep into your thinking, failure is a sure thing. But if you failed, think about it and be frank with yourself – what more could you have done? And what is that special something that could take your project even further?

The Wright brothers were great at doing precisely this. They succeeded where others had failed because they possessed strong PMAs. Instead of being disheartened when their airplane designs failed, they spotted that missing piece: movable flaps mounted on the plane’s wings! These flaps enabled the pilot to place the wings in various positions and keep the plane steady. This piece would have been forever lost had the brothers had an NMA (Negative Mental Attitude), and their dreams would have never seen the light of day.

When looking for the missing piece, an unconventional approach is sometimes the best approach. When trying to brainstorm new ideas, many of us sit down with a pen and paper and expect ideas to magically descend upon us. Then, when we become distracted, our focus slips and we lose time and potentially great ideas. So why not try an unconventional route and focus your mind completely?

For example, American inventor Dr. Gates used to lock himself in a small, dark, soundproof room so that he could concentrate on a solution to a problem. Only when he had an idea did he switch on the light and jot down a possible solution.


Learning 676

As humans, we’re born with an innate tendency to focus on the present. Biological needs demand this, from eating to sleeping to going to the bathroom.

But we aren’t usually raised to remain focused on the present. Society tells us to delay gratification, including the fulfillment of biological urges. Schools discipline us to study; even though it’s no fun, we know that studying now will improve our future prospects.

Thus we sacrifice some present-orientation perspective in favor of future-orientation. Let’s look at the different kinds of present-orientation perspectives.

In the present, you might be a hedonist or a fatalist. Hedonists enjoy all things that offer pleasure, and will do anything to avoid pain. Teens are classic hedonists, seeking novelty, excitement and short-term gains. They’re life of the party, to be sure; but teens also have little impulse control.

In contrast, fatalists believe their lives are controlled by forces outside of their influence. They might think, “Why should I worry about the future when it’s already decided for me by God?”


Learning 675

What matters most about the past, though, is your attitude toward it.

People who view the past positively – a past-positive time perspective – are more inclined to be happier, healthier and more successful than people who are past-negative.

Surprisingly, past-positive people are still happier even when their positive attitude is based on an inaccurate recollection of events. Psychologists have found that looking at the past through “rose-tinted lenses” is the key to cultivating the gratitude necessary to appreciate life today.

How can you do this? Take some time every day to jot down things you were grateful for. While you can’t change the past, you can change how you feel about it. A bit of re-framing may be enough to change the whole picture, and transform a past negative into past positive.


Learning 672

Start by offering your WHY statement to those who ask, “What do you do?”

Try it with the person sitting next to you on a plane, a fellow guest at a party or a stranger in a waiting room.

You might be a little uncomfortable at first, but that’s the good thing about strangers – chances are you’ll never see them again. It also gives you the chance to fine-tune your WHY into a message you feel comfortable and confident saying.

More importantly, sharing your WHY with the world will push you to commit to it and back up your words with actions. The more you give voice to your intentions, the more likely you’ll be to follow through with them.

Not knowing your purpose in life, or your WHY, can be a frustrating and confusing experience for individuals, businesses and teams. But there are ways to look within, understand your WHY and begin to live a motivated, passionate and productive life. When you fully realize your WHY, you can start thriving in both your personal and professional life.