In our day-to-day lives it’s so easy to become accustomed to a repetitive thought, feeling or decision to the degree that it breeds an outlook of expectancy and stagnation. If you’re driving on your daily commute to work and all you notice are the same shops, cars and stop lights, that drive will soon become pretty lifeless and boring.
There’s an area of the brain that’s called the reticular activating system and it gets triggered whenever we place our attention on a particular thought, activity or thing. Let’s say you recently bought a new car, a Honda Civic, and to your surprise, all of sudden you’re noticing this model on the road everywhere you drive. Because your attention is now focused on Honda Civics’, that part of the brain recognizes them as a priority where it didn’t in the past.
This level of perception can be useful if focused on thoughts, activities or things that bring us a sense of fulfillment and purpose. On the other hand, if we’re not conscious of where we place our attention, habits that we don’t particularly desire to cultivate can also be triggered and take us down a dull and lifeless road filled with unhealthy beliefs and feelings .
How can you catch these negative culprits as they float in and out of your consciousness?
One easy tip is to become super aware of moments when your outlook dampens. Whenever you notice that seconds earlier you felt light and inspired and now you’re feeling dense or somewhat depressed, it’s an opportunity to review what your attention was recently focused upon. Perhaps someone at work walked by you and didn’t say hello. This could have triggered a conditioned response from an ancient memory of feeling disregarded and your reticular activating system placed its attention on this scenario and gave it meaning. In this split second of realization lies the opportunity to create a different story. Maybe this person was deep in thought and their unresponsiveness had nothing to do with you?
The more attuned you become to removing the meaning that you’ve placed on particular events; you free yourself and begin to live life from a fresh and inspired purview. Suddenly, your predictable ride to work is filled with an entirely different scenery and you’re noticing buildings with beautiful architecture, the birds darting through the trees, and a young couple in deep embrace outside of the corner pharmacy. Open to this new landscape and allow your world to be filled with richer colors, textures and purpose, anew in every moment.