Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…These are a few of my favorite things
There’s a good chance you’re going to have this song stuck in your head all day now. I’m sorry, but I had to do it. Because My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music is a reminder about what it takes to program our thoughts and feelings for personal engagement.
Your Mental Spotlight.
Imagine starting your day by writing down as many complaints that you can list in 5 minutes. How many do you think you could list? 30? 40? Maybe 60, averaging one gripe every 5 seconds? Do you know what you’d end up with at the end of five minutes? Frustration. Discontent. Dissatisfaction. Perhaps a headache. And I want you to know this, too:
Just 5 minutes of wallowing in misery programs your mind to find more things to complain about.
In 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote Psycho Cybernetics where he developed the concept of a Reticular Activating System (RAS), a subconscious process in our brains that captures, categorizes, and files away what we see and think about. Think of your RAS like a spotlight that draws attention to the thoughts that consume you. Over time, your RAS works automatically, subconsciously looking for the things that fill your conscious thoughts. That means when you get stuck dwelling on things that make you feel miserable, your RAS helps you find more things to be miserable about!
The Power of Finding a Few of Your Favorite Things.
On the other hand, if you invest time dwelling on things that provide you with satisfaction, happiness, contentment, enjoyment, your RAS puts a spotlight on those thoughts and emotions, and you see, recall, and reap the rewards of those thoughts and feelings all day long.
Does it work?
When was the last time you heard the song, My Favorite Things? Are you hearing in the back of your mind something that goes something like “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” right now? If so, it’s because some time in the past, you invested in listening to that song. And now it doesn’t take much to bring it back into your head just like it was the last time you heard it. Your RAS is working just the way it’s designed to work. You RAS found the file where you stored the song, and now it’s ready to play it for you. Yes, it works.
Putting your RAS to work for you.
Want more joy, happiness, peace, contentment, satisfaction, and engagement in life, both at home and at work? Start your day with a list of your own favorite things. Before rolling out of bed, think about something in your life that brings you purpose and enjoyment. Then think of another thing. Then another. Continue this line of thinking into the shower. Train yourself to spend at least 10 minutes each morning running through a mental and emotional list of what you appreciate, what you enjoy, what you want to see and experience more of throughout the day.
It won’t take long to program your RAS. You will see more of the things you dwell on. Over time, the spotlight will remain fixed on the things you think about, the thoughts that consume you. With practice, you’ll have more of your own favorite things squarely in your sites at all times.
Maybe you can start by trying to reprogram your RAS away from thoughts about crisp apple strudels and schnitzel with noodles!