When my husband and I were planning to purchase a new car, we really had no idea what make and model we wanted. All we knew was that we wanted an SUV. Our family and friends gave us their opinion (Hondas, Mitsubishi, etc) but we still weren’t sure. We decided to visit a Mazda dealer because the sales person was a friend of our neighbor. She trusted him and that was more important to us than the car.

He recommended a Mazda CX5. And we bought it.

I never heard of one or seen one but as soon as we drove the car off of the lot, I started to see Mazda CX5s everywhere!

Did the human race all of a sudden start copying me? Or, where there always Mazda CX5s on the road but I just didn’t notice them?

No magic here. They were on the road before but I didn’t notice them until I started to FOCUS on them. We have our reticular activating system in our brain to thank for this.

Our reticular activating system (RAS) is a rely center. As our brains are bombarded by sounds, images, and physical feelings, it’s this center that decides what gets our focus. Image if you weren’t able to ignore the humming of the air conditioner, tweeting of birds, and slight headache to be able to focus on writing, say, a blog post! You’d go crazy. The RAS filters the non-essential messages so that you only capture what’s important.

There were Mazda CX5s on the road before I bought one – I just didn’t NOTICE them.

We can use this same system to tell our brain to focus on whatever we want.

I just had an amazing string of experiences. I gave the closing address at the National ASPAN Convention (Celebrate Nursing: Human by Birth – Hero by Choice) then had an opportunity to practice what I preach.

Nursing Success

On Uber car ride from the hotel to the airport, another young male passenger was sharing the ride with me. I found out that he had never flown before. When I asked him what time his flight was, he said his flight left in 1 hour!!! He didn’t have his boarding pass yet (thought that the email confirmation was enough), didn’t know if he was checking a bag or not, and didn’t have a CLUE what to do when he got there. I had serious concerns that he wouldn’t make his flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

Nurses help. It’s in our DNA. So I helped.

I walked in with him, got him boarding pass, gave him instructions and because he didn’t have TSA pre-check and I do, I went to his gate and told gate agent NOT to leave without him. He made his flight. Whew!

Then, after I grabbed bite to eat, I walked past a man being helped by the crew at a gate. I stopped and said, “I’m a nurse. Do you need help?” They said, “YES!” The man was having chest pain. I assessed him, asked him several questions, and calmed him down until paramedics got there. Personally, I think he was having a PE.

While getting ready to board my plane, I noticed a young mother with a newborn baby in her arms, a big stroller, carry-on bag, and a wheeled bag. My first thought was that there was NO WAY she was going to be able to get that baby on the airplane without help. So I helped. While asking her if I could carry her bags down the ramp, the flight attendant approached and offered to do the same. While I was boarding, the same flight attendant approached me and said, “You’re the nurse who helped us with the gentleman who was having chest pain, aren’t you?” She then said, “You can tell you’re a nurse.” I felt good.

When I got to the plane door, the mom was there trying to collapse the stroller while holding the baby. Guess what? I got to hold that precious newborn while she handled her equipment.

I told my hubby about this (and my Facebook friends). Three days later when he was at the airport parking lot, he noticed someone needing help with their car. So, he approached this person. Apparently, he had a dead battery and needed a jump – so he helped him.

You see, when you focus on helping, you find opportunities to help. You can use this system to help you in other ways too!

Use your RAS to help YOU focus on the positive things in your life – not the negative. Once you do this, you will automatically FIND positive things! This is why goal setting works when you write down your goals and read them every day. This gives your RAS the opportunity to find ways to achieve those goals! Whether it’s a new car or a successful nursing career, understanding the RAS can help you succeed!

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