Deer In The Headlights

Years ago I remember driving with a friend of mine down a hilly road near our home.  He's a hunter, has been all his life. Me - never hunted.  There were cornfields to our right and homes on our left.  It was evening - dark out - at the time, and we live on the outskirts of town - rural country.  He noticed a deer, then another and a few more. I noticed none of them.  

Or did I?

I remember learning about a little part of our brain that might have something to do with the answer. It's called the Reticular Activating System.  As I understand it and without going into depths I'll never be able to explain, the RAS acts as a sort of filter between the subconscious and conscious - determining what we should be aware of and alert for on the conscious level.  Various factors play into why we're subconsciously driven to filter our environment in differing ways, but I can share my understanding regarding this experience with my hunter friend.

As a hunter, he's trained and motivated to be hyper-aware for "opportunities" - in this case, deer.  Even though he was not hunting, his brain, or RAS, was still filtering based on priority, and importance.  Deer are important to him. Not so much for me.

I believe I did see the deer, but I did not know it, because my RAS filtered it out - not important, or not relevant to me.

Makes me wonder what I've missed in my years because somewhere along the line I became trained not to notice. Not just based on relevance or importance, but on experience and perhaps belief. When you got your new car, so did everyone else, or so it seems - because you were more aware.  When you named your newborn that highly unique name, seems so did everyone else at the same time! Again, it didn't matter before, but now it does, so you notice.

Goes back a bit to the idea that we get more of what we focus on, or as in Earl Nightingale's, timeless classic, The Strangest Secret, "We become what we think about." If we change what we think about - a newborn's name, a new car - we change what we're aware of and alert for.

Bottom line to me is I need to change my RAS to work for me, not against me, by being intentional about my focus, my priority, and even my beliefs.  Intentional about a great marriage, great kids, great business, great health, ...

You get the idea. I want to see the "deer" when it matters and because it matters.