“He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.” Epicurus

Have you ever noticed how your brain is a pattern-searching machine? Perhaps if I use an analogy followed by an example of what I am suggesting it might resonate with you?

Imagine for a moment you decide to upgrade your home sound system. After some research and comparing various products, you choose to purchase Sonos speakers through Amazon. While waiting for your new speakers to arrive, you carry on reading reviews and studying your imminent audio upgrade via various websites. Then the strangest thing starts to happen; suddenly across your digital devices, you begin noticing adverts for Sonos audio speakers. On Facebook and Instagram, as well as when you’re browsing the Internet or watching videos on YouTube – these adverts keep popping up as if your computer knows what you want. Now, it’s obvious what is happening here for most people, you’ve searched these items, so they’re in your HTTP cookies, supposedly to improve you’re browsing experience on the internet but more often associated with re-target advertising.

Your brain works similarly through something called your Reticular Activating System or simply the RAS.

You will most likely be familiar with when your RAS is working but perhaps not consciously aware of it. Can you remember the last car you purchased? I would imagine that before purchasing you might have researched some of the models and colours you were interested in, perhaps then narrowing the search down to a few dealerships which had the car you wanted in the colour you wanted, and at the price you were willing to pay? Finally, you commit to one of the dealers and place the order for your car, but unfortunately, your dream car will take a week or so to order and prepare. In the meantime, you’re driving around in your old vehicle and what starts to happen?

You start noticing the car you’ve just bought, in the same colour, the same model, everywhere you travel. It’s almost as if everyone has decided to buy the same car and you start noticing them – all the time!

Now you can exchange the car analogy for anything you like, a woman planning for a baby starts noticing pregnant women while strolling down the High Street. It is also the same with advertising campaigns that subtly settle in your subconscious, and you start seeing the advertised product everywhere.  Now the truth is these items were always going to be there, the car, the pregnant women, and the product, but your RAS cache is full of these searches, and your brain noticed them when they were in your proximity. The RAS is a pattern searching machine that matches the reality outside your head with your ‘cookies history’ inside.

Remember the friend who proclaims, “Nothing good ever happens to me!” Well, guess what nothing good happens to them.

But why is this so important? Consider for a moment your brain being this pattern-searching machine that you had pre-programmed deliberately to look for things to be grateful for. Everywhere you went your subconscious brain quietly searched for examples of all the things in your life that gave you gratitude. Well, this is how, and more importantly why, a gratitude log works.

Activity: Each day, list three things that you are grateful for. You cannot repeatedly use the same items over and over, in doing so your RAS will slowly start scanning for the examples of gratitude.

Author: Phil Quirk