Notice What You Notice (The Reticular Activating System)

In my quest to become a more relaxed, organized and happy individual I have been reading and implementing David Allen’s personal productivity manual Getting Things Done. In chapter 3, Allen discusses the “reticular activating system” (68). The reticular activating system is your brain’s filter; it’s what enables one to sleep when music is playing but wake if one’s little baby is crying in another room. It’s why when you get a new car it suddenly seems there are a lot more of that type of car on the road.

We notice things that match our internal belief system and values. We are constantly given evidence of the validity of our beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are. However, the rigidity of one’s belief system is inversely proportional to his or her range of experiences. Maybe we should make the effort to notice what we’re noticing and reflect on how the way we view the world is more of a reflection of who we are than of actual reality.

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