You may be familiar with the popular saying: “Your focus creates your reality.” Variations include:
- “You get what you focus on, so focus on what you want.”
- “Energy flows where attention goes.”
- “What you focus on expands.”
I love pithy quotes as much as the next person but I’m more interested in practical wisdom.Whenever I hear a maxim or idea that resonates with me, I typically ask questions like:
Is this true? If so, why?
What basis does this idea have in reality?
Can I corroborate this with an experience from my own life?
Sayings that have endured the test of time tend to contain at least a seed of wisdom or truth in them. If not literally then metaphorically.
It turns out there is both practical wisdom and scientific truth packed into the phrase “Your focus creates your reality.” Here's a short exercise to prove it:
Look around you right now, wherever you are, and count how many red-colored objects you see in your field of vision. Any shade of red works. Go ahead and stop reading right now, look around you, and count how many red things you see. I’ll wait…
Are you done? How many red items did you count? I bet you saw far more than you had previously noticed before this exercise.
It’s not that those red-colored items weren’t there before. It’s that you didn’t see them because your brain wasn’t looking for them.
Why You Should Write Down Your Goals
A similar thing happens when you write down your goals.
By writing down what you want to accomplish, you're effectively telling your brain what to pay attention to. You're saying: “This is important!” The result is that you'll be more aware of opportunities in your environment that are relevant to your goals. You'll also be more likely to act on those opportunities.
Your attention and focus are powerful tools. You can also use them to adopt a more effective mindset altogether. I show you how in my Mindset Shifts Masterclass, a 6-week course I created to help you let go of stories that hold you back and reprogram your mind for success. Registration closes September 10th, 2018. Click here for more details.
The Science Behind The Saying
The explanation for this why this works has to do with how your brain is wired. There are thousands upon thousands of different sights, sounds and sensations happening in your environment at any given moment. If you were fully aware of all of them simultaneously, you wouldn’t know what to focus on and you’d probably experience sensory overload.
The way evolution has dealt with this is through the development of the part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Think of the RAS like a bouncer at an exclusive nightclub -- its primary job is to not let everything in. The RAS filters out the extraneous stimuli in your environment (something like 99%) and allows you to pay attention to what is most important or relevant to you.
This is why you are able to hear your name in a noisy crowd of people talking. It’s why, after you buy a new car, you start seeing that same car on the road more frequently. It’s why, after you learn a new word, you start hearing it more often. It’s also the reason you noticed the red-colored items in the room after I told you to look for them.
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” - John Lubbock
How I Manifested My Dream Woman
Years before I met my wife, Vanessa, I wrote down all the qualities I wanted in a romantic partner. It was a list of about 30 different things. Fast forward a few years later: Not only did I manifest my dream woman, I got far more than I ever imagined.
Now let’s think about this logically. Did the mere act of writing down my preferences somehow magically make my dream woman appear in my life? Unless I’ve discovered a new law of physics, this probably isn’t the case. How then, can this be explained in rational terms?
By crystallizing and defining exactly what I was looking for in a woman, I effectively set my “cognitive filter” to pick up on those qualities more readily when I was on dates or interacting with potential mates. When Vanessa eventually showed up in my life, I already knew what I was looking for so I seized the opportunity to cultivate that relationship. I knew what I wanted so I was able to recognize when it showed up in my life.
Moral of the Story
Your brain constructs your reality based on what you pay attention to. Learning to manage your focus is the key to improving virtually every aspect of your life.
Ruben Chavez is a lifestyle philosopher, influencer, writer and personal development educator. His passion for personal development inspired him to create the Instagram account ThinkGrowProsper in 2014, which has amassed over 3 million followers. Along with his blog, these platforms are his way of inspiring and connecting with thoughtful, creative, and ambitious people just like you.
P.S. Want to learn how to use your focus and attention to develop a more effective mindset and let go of limiting beliefs? I show you how in my Mindset Shifts Masterclass, a 6-week course I created to help you let go of stories that hold you back and reprogram your mind for success. Registration closes September 10th, 2018. Click here for more details.