THE RETICULAR ACTIVATOR is a part of the
brain the stays on alert. It's job is to make you notice some
things and ignore other things (if you noticed everything,
you'd be too distracted to function). When you buy a new VW,
it seems like the whole world has bought VWs, because you notice
them everywhere. That's the reticular activator at work.
Motivational speakers, business consultants,
and authors of "success books" always stress the importance
of having a clear goal. One of the reasons goals are so important
is because they activate your reticular activator.
If you have the goal of writing and publishing
a bestselling book, for example, you will start noticing things
you've never noticed before. It seems the world is conspiring
to help you out. You'll meet just the right people. You'll run
into the perfect designer for your cover by an amazing coincidence.
You'll happen to stumble across a magazine article that tells
you about a software program that will really speed up your writing.
And so on.
All these things are happening because
your clear goal has set up the conditions for your reticular
activator to work well. That's how it works. When you know exactly
what you want, your reticular activator goes to work automatically
to help you get it.
For the most part, you run on "automatic
pilot." We all do. You tend to think the way you have always
thought. You tend to notice things you've always noticed. And
you tend to overlook things you've always overlooked.
But when you have a new, clear, definite
goal, you start noticing things you would "normally"
overlook. And that makes all the difference.
The term "reticular activator"
comes from the name given to the part of the brain primarily
responsible for arousal and motivation in animals (including
humans). It's called the "reticular formation" and
it's located at the core of the brain stem between the medulla
oblongata and midbrain.
You can't be aware of everything all the
time. The reticular activator is your first line of defense against
the overwhelm of stimuli. The reticular activator decides what
will get into your awareness (what you will become conscious
of), and its decisions are based on survival instincts plus anything
else you deem as really important.
For example, a woman is a sound sleeper.
She has been all her life. Then she has a baby, and the smallest
peep from her infant wakes her up. What woke her up? Her reticular
My wife and I have alarm clocks on either
side of our bed. I have mine on my side, she has hers on her
side. She often gets up earlier than I do. Her alarm woke me
up the first couple of mornings, but ever since then, I have
slept right through it. Yet my own alarm wakes me up every time.
How does this happen? The reticular activator
never sleeps. It is always active.
You can use your reticular activator as
a powerful force for good in your life. Give it a strong, clear
goal, keep your
motivation at a high pitch, and your reticular activator
will go to work for you, twenty-four hours a day, helping you
find a way to make it happen.