An extraordinary life! It’s something I think we all want, and I believe we can have it!
Now I’m not being ridiculous here. Will there be challenges in life? Of course! Will our hearts get broken? Probably! Will we experience disappointment? That’s pretty much a guarantee!
But we don’t have to fulfill the famous quote by Henry David Thoreau:
“Most men/women lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” You were meant for more!
When we program our brains to live an extraordinary life, we can get through difficult moments and challenges in a more resourceful way, and see them turn for our good.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a powerful, but primitive network of neurons that regulates our cardiovascular, respiratory and motor responses. It also receives input from your central nervous system and serves as a filter to only allow entre to what you have programmed it to believe to be “important.”
Here are just a few of the things that “switching on” your RAS can do for you:
- Activate your creative abilities and intensify their effectiveness.
- Search for and hone in on resources to meet goals and turn dreams into reality.
- Dramatically accelerate progress on projects.
- Increase the quality of your use of time.
- Boost your momentum.
- Achieve levels of success once thought impossible.
All of these things are within your grasp, just by switching on (and reprogramming) your RAS!
How does this work? Can it really be done? And is this just another power of positive thinking thing? I know you may be asking all of these questions. So let me start there, just in case we have any doubting Thomas’s reading along with us.
Is this just another power of positive thinking thing?
I always chuckle when I hear that question, because it infers there’s something wrong with the power of positive thinking. I do believe that choosing positive thoughts over negative thoughts is a powerful tool at our access. And I hope you practice it regularly. However, positive thinking is only a small part of programming our brain for an extraordinary life.
Can this really be done?
I have been researching, practicing, and teaching these concepts to clients for over 20 years. For those willing to embark on the journey, and practice the tools you will find listed below, I have seen them to be transformational! The real challenge is putting the tools into action. Reading about them feels good, but for real transformation to occur, it requires rolling up your sleeves and putting one foot in front of the other!
How does it work?
If you have read my other articles about our RAS, you know that it’s the greatest computer known to man. It is fully programmed, and the programming begins at birth. It is primarily influenced by parents, teachers, and other significant adults in our lives. At a very early age, it is fully installed and becomes the hard drive, or hardwiring of our brains.
Unfortunately, it is rarely programmed for an extraordinary life. But you can change that! Starting this very minute!
You may be wondering, can this be used to program my brain around other things? Like reaching my goals? Or fulfilling my dreams? Or healing from a broken heart? Or excelling in my career? Or breaking free from an addiction? Absolutely! The steps and guidelines are basically the same. So let’s get started!
1. Define extraordinary (or your “X”: making extraordinary advancements in your career; turning an ordinary relationship into an extraordinary one; transforming a broken heart to an extraordinarily healed heart). What part of your life you would like to transform to extraordinary? Define what that means to you. For example, for me, an extraordinary life means living peacefully and joyfully, having an extraordinarily rich relationship with a significant other or husband, and making great contributions to the quality of the lives of others! Now I want you to write down what part of your life you’d like to transform to extraordinary and what that means to you. As soon as you write it, your RAS will go on a search for it, and create the momentum you need to get started on the transformational journey. After you write it, I want you to go back and use even more powerful and empowering words in your definition.
2. Jump out of your comfort zone. I learned early in my life to live in my comfort zone. When I would go to the grocery store with my mother, I would take her skirt in my hand and wrap myself up like a mummy in it so that I wouldn’t get lost. And I knew I was safe when I was right by her side. When I became an adult, I continued to live in my comfort zone. Hiding in the shadow of others, staying safe at all costs. But there was no extraordinary to be found there.
I finally had one of those “a-ha moments“ when I realized that I could either have a “safe life in my comfort zone“ or “an extraordinary life!“
If you find yourself in a recliner with the remote control all laid-back, comfy and warm, in the middle your comfort zone … you know what I’m talking about. So if you’re asking yourself, how on earth do I get out of my comfort zone? The answer is this… One strategic baby step at a time! More on that on point number 6 below.
3. Focus on the benefits of extraordinary for you. The moment you begin to focus on the benefits (instead of on the risks, or the “what if’s”), your RAS will become your greatest supporter! You have to re-program your RAS by very consciously and consistently focusing on the positives that might occur if you were to embark upon the journey to extraordinary.
Focus on the possibilities, not the risks.
Focus on the benefits for you.
Focus on the benefits for others.
Focus on how it could make your life different and/or better.
Focus on how you would feel if you felt the best you’ve ever felt in your life.
Focus, focus, focus!
4. Use all five senses. See it, hear it, touch it, taste it, smell it. You may be thinking… Really? This may sound pretty far out there. Actually the more sensory input that you give your RAS to work from, the more rigorously and vigorously it works to help you see the opportunities and resources that surround you.
Smell it? Yes! I am not an essential oils expert, but there are many out there. And I would suggest that you consult with one. For example, one of the oldest medicinal remedies is peppermint oil. When I was growing up, I would go spend summers with my Mamaw. She had a peppermint plant right outside the back door. Before every meal, I would go out and cut off sprigs of peppermint to put in our water, tea, or whatever we were drinking. To this day, the smell of peppermint ignites something in me that is happy, joyful, and footloose and fancy free. Because that’s what I always felt at my Mamaw’s house.
Now there is clinical research finding that peppermint oil can provide a great boost to our energy. I keep peppermint oil around my home and office, because of how it activates my RAS.
Taste it? Yes. You know that old saying that once you get a taste of victory you can never go back? Well there’s something to that, but I’m talking about literal taste. For me, “taste it” and “smell it” go together. Because not only did I become anchored to the smell of peppermint, I also became anchored to the taste of it. I keep plastic packets of breath strips on almost every table in my office. For me tasting the peppermint energizes me, and gives me an amazing boost of hopeful thinking. Figure out what flavors work for you and which ones create a sense of hope and excitement.
Touch it? Yes. You can anchor yourself to anything you can touch that will activate your RAS to search for extraordinary in your ““X.“ For example, I am currently focused on a project that will enable me to deliver valuable content digitally. I an passionate about providing content to individuals, couples, families, and businesses to create extraordinary. I have anchored myself to picking up my iPhone, and or my MacBook Air, and imagining wonderful people like you who are reading this, hopefully gleaning valuable information. That definitely programs my RAS to be thinking of and looking for valuable content. What can you touch that would activate your RAS to look for the great outcomes in your “X” (life, relationships, finances, etc.)?
Hear it? Yes! Our RAS is activated by auditory input regarding our desired outcome. For example, every morning, I have a ritual that I walk through to program myself for optimal success on my project daily. It is embedded in my power statement, my acrostic power word for the year, and my annual goals. I read each of those aloud every morning in order to activate my RAS. Music is another way to activate your RAS. I rotate various songs that I use for my morning alarm. What songs might activate your RAS to move you toward great results?
See it? Yes! This could mean different things to different people. It could mean holding a picture of fabulous results in your imagination. It could mean printing pictures that would activate your RAS. Or it could mean putting an image on your screensaver, or as wallpaper on your phone.
Activating your RAS visually has been said to be the most powerful of the senses by some scientists. For me, I use all five, and I recommend that you use at least three of the five daily.
5. Incorporate the use of senses into your morning and evening rituals for 77 days. Former research told us that making something a habit required about 21 to 30 days. Newer research indicates that it is some where between 60 and 120 days. I began using 77 days for myself when I am initiating something new into my routine or daily rituals. I have found that 77 days seals it.
6. Determine at least three action steps to begin your journey to extraordinary. Take them in the next 24 hours. Always keep three “next steps” in front of you. It keeps the RAS working on your behalf, and keeps your momentum going. Massive immediate action jump starts the RAS and accelerates your path to extraordinary.
7. Commit to daily action. Even if all you can do is write a plan for the next day, commit to doing SOMETHING daily. No excuses, no “days off.” Even two minutes devoted to the process daily keeps your RAS on the job!
Our Reticular Activation System was created to work for us, not against us. However, we can train it to worry, and look for bad things that could occur. Or we can train it to hope, and look for great things that could occur.
My hope is that you will choose to use it to program extraordinary into your life.