Everyday Superpower: RAS

Did you know that you have a built-in screening device that either admits or blocks information? Yes, we do, and it’s another “natural superpower” each of us already owns.

The human nervous system, at the base of the brain, contains a marvelous network of cells called the reticular formation, or Reticular Activating System – RAS for short. Its primary function is to screen out unimportant information that comes to you through your senses. Because of the work the RAS does for us, we are not aware of most of the information bombarding our senses every second of every day.

A parent with a new baby in the next room will sleep through jet planes screaming overhead, but will wake in an instant if that baby starts to cry. The airplane is louder, but not important, so it doesn’t get through because the parent’s RAS keeps it out. Only information that is important – valuable or threatening – gets through.

Now when you set a goal, you declare a new significance – you make something important. And suddenly, information that never got through before is all around you. Did you ever decide to buy something – maybe a new HD television – and the next day all you see are advertisements for HD TV’s? They were there all along, but now they’re important to you, so the RAS lets the information through and you notice them.

Or you decide to take a vacation, and all of a sudden you are seeing vacation specials in your emails, online or in the newspapers and periodicals. They were there all along, you just deleted or recycled them, because you weren’t thinking “vacation.”

So when you set a goal and declare its importance, you’ll find yourself noticing opportunities to help you achieve that goal that you never knew were there before. Try it. You will be surprised at how efficiently your RAS works for you.

And it operates 24/7/365…