On my way to work I was reading today about the Reticular Activating System. The May 1957 issue of Scientific American described this location in the brain that serves as the gateway to our conscious awareness.
In essence, the Reticular Activating System permits stimuli to enter our consciousness that passes our predetirmined criteria. We may be able to fall asleep in noisy environments when the noise is not important to us or wake up when extraordinary events cannot be ignored. The examples were waking with the sound of a crying baby or falling asleep with music playing.
As I considered this phenomenon I thought about how we focus on those things that are important to us. If I am walking into a room where a computer is installed I can immediately determine the model, approximate age and generally make assumptions about how it is used. While driving I am generally able to predict the action of other drivers and anticipate their possible actions. These are important to me and so my attention is more keenly tuned to recognize and assess the situation. This comes from experience as well as interest.
These are elemental examples of what build our character. Cognitively we are made of thoughts which in turn become actions that ulitmately shape a person that we are. We pursue those desires that we seek after by experience or those we believe we have the potential to achieve. Therefore, in a very real sense mastering our thoughts are the first steps of determining who we will become. This is not new, nor is it entirely my original development. However, that which we desire to do and follow through with shapes us.
Each day we conduct tasks that are exciting, desirable, necessary, mundane and simply boring. Our days are filled with endeavors that span the spectrum of experience. From brushing our teeth to solving complex problems our brains are processing gateways to accomplishments great and small. In order to become successful at a task or generally improve our condition we need to identify and isolate those activities that yield the greatest benefit.
The diagram below depicts a representation of these tasks. When our time is spent working the hardest in interesting tasks we gain the greatest growth. Where we spend more time on the mundane events our growth potential wanes. Likewise a balance is necessary to avoid growth without balance or regulation.
In future posts we’ll explore the necessity of character as it is shaped by our thought initiated actions.