In 1957 Scientific American Magazine published a study on the brain’s reticular activation system. I’ll save you the technical details. Here’s how it works.
Close your eyes and think of the color red for five seconds.
Open your eyes and look around your room.
What was the first thing you saw? Was it red?
Here’s what’s really interesting. If you think about red for a while longer, your brain will keep feeding you red for the rest of the day.
This explains why, when you buy a new car, you are amazed by how many people suddenly drive that same car. And it explains why – over the next few days – you’re going to start noticing four color pens. (Show four color pen).
I love four color pens. I have since my grandma bought me one like this way back when. I still use them. I take my basic notes in black or blue. Red and green are special colors. Red notes are things that worry me, things that concern me, things that I have to address. Green notes are things that make me happy, make me laugh, bring me joy.
If I focus on the red – I’m going to have a list of concerns in my notebook and in my life, that will overwhelm me.
If you focus on the red, you’ll get it. If you focus on the green, you’ll get that.
In March of 2016 after three months of back to normal work and plenty of red ink notes my wife reminded me “You promised the Doctor you would unplug one week out of every three months. It’s time”. We took a week of staycation – and I tried to unplug. I mean unplug from work. I still got on Facebook. And at the end of our first day of vacation, I posted something “The great things that happened today” I felt better, and I didn’t know why.
So I did it the next day. And the day after that. I started to wonder – it’s easy when we spent the day in the zoo. But could I do this when I’m back in the office? And how long can I do this?
The answer is “Four years and counting”
The more I looked, the more I found. Until eventually my wife said “what if you wrote a book about great things?”
Let's start seeking the green right now:
I'll go first. Here are some pictures of the great things in my life.
What are the people places or things that are great in your life?
Take a minute right now and name them.
Let me ask you something – did you feel better just thinking about those things? And if you just felt better thinking about them, imagine how much better you’ll feel if you spend time with them.
Here's the best part:
Once you start seeking the "good" your brain will start feeding it to you all the time.
The first S for stress management is Seek the green. Once you start seeking the green the green will find you. If you seek it you will see it.
What you dwell on becomes your reality.
Next up: Once we seek it and see it - then what?