Our minds are equipped with something called the “Reticular Activating System.” This RAS serves to help us become aware of something if it is important, but lets us filter out things that aren’t essential.
There is too much surrounding us, in our memory, and in our thoughts, to pay full attention to all of it at every moment. This is why you can pass the same sign alongside the road every day, but not even remember what it says. It’s also why you probably weren’t paying any attention to the way your upper lip feels against your teeth until I mentioned it right now.
While the RAS serves us in many ways, it can also isolate us. When we give importance to our thoughts about the past and the future, we’re choosing to let those thoughts occupy our immediate awareness. Have you ever stared right at someone while they talked and not heard a word they said because you were thinking about something else? Or driven all the way to work without noticing if any of your surroundings were different than the day before?
In these ways, we can become very alone in our thoughts. This is the essence of the old saying “stop and smell the roses.” When you get out of your own head for a moment and simply look around, you’ll notice all sorts of things that you hadn’t seen before. You’ll notice opportunities. You’ll notice danger. Most importantly, you’ll notice people.
You’ll notice the expressions on their faces. Their body language. The way they interact with others.
In these moments, when we observe the world around us, our hearts are opened to be touched by the love that connects us all.
Have a joyful day!
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