Accelerated Learning and Life Skills


The Power of Focus

Now that I’ve written a few posts on preparing your mind and physical space for learning, I’d like to switch gears and share with you a valuable life skill that can immediately improve the quality of your life. Before I share this skill with you, please watch this short one minute video. It has an important message that we will talk about in a minute – literally.

Hopefully, this was the first time you’ve seen this video and you got to enjoy the surprise that most people experience. If you are like me, you completely missed the moonwalking bear. If you are like me, you also rewound the video, watched it again, and could not believe that you missed the bear the first time.

So what is the important message contained in this simple yet profound commercial? The important message is exactly what the commercial states at the end: “It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.” I like to turn this around and state it as: “It’s easy to find something you’re looking for.” You don’t even have to be consciously looking for something to find it. For example, have you ever bought a new cell phone or bike or car and then suddenly noticed it everywhere you looked? The reason this happens is because of a part of our brain called the reticular activating system (RAS).

The RAS acts like a filter and only lets certain bits of information from our senses into our conscious awareness. The rest is filtered out so we are not overwhelmed by the vast amounts of data received every second of every day. The information that the RAS allows into our awareness is largely determined by what is important to us and what we think about on a daily basis. For example, as a father of a 14 month old, I am now hyper aware of babies. My filter has changed. Although I never seemed to notice babies before, I now see babies everywhere I look.

This filtering of information by the RAS has important implications for our overall well being because in a sense it determines our reality. If only certain information makes it into our conscious awareness, then our reality is seen through the lens of this filter. Change your filter and you change your reality.

The valuable life skill that I mentioned at the beginning of this post is exerting conscious control over what makes it through your filter. One simple way of doing that is by really understanding that “you find what you are looking for” and the implications of this powerful statement.

If you look for what is going right in your life, you will find it. On the other hand, if you look for what is going wrong in your life, you will find that instead. Which one would you prefer?

Focus on what is right in your life and you will start to notice it everywhere you look.

Happy hunting :)

Comments & Responses

4 Responses so far.

  1. “Focus on what is right in your life and you will start to notice it everywhere you look”

    This is the great advice. Thanks!

  2. The what I hear you say? The Reticular Activating System, abbreviated to RAS, is an area within the human brain that plays several important roles in our day to day lives. The Reticular Activating System is a primitive network of nerve cells and fibres that regulates our cardiovascular, respiratory and motor responses; it also receives input from your senses via the central nervous system and ‘filters’ those inputs to only allow through information that has some importance to you. Through these functions it controls your ability to pay attention, be awake or asleep and allows you to be aware of activities that are happening in your environment.

  3. Specific – This is a goal, not a wish. If someone asks, you should be able to describe it in great detail and clarity. Measurable – If you can’t measure it, how will you know when you achieve it? Make sure you can track it! Attainable – 1 Billion in a year? And you’re broke? Make them big enough to stretch you, but small enough to not de-motivate you. Relevant – Remember these are your goals and should be relevant to your life. Is it worthwhile goal to pursue? Timely – The important question here is: when? By what date will this goal be accomplished? Again, make it stretch you that little bit, don’t make it too easy on yourself.

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