“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: this is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
–Henry David Thoreau from Walden
Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast where we bridge the gap between theory and practice, with strategies, tools and ideas we can all use immediately, applied to the most current brain research to heighten productivity in our schools, sports environments and modern workplaces. For returning guests, welcome back, and for those who are new listeners, I’m Andrea Samadi and launched this podcast almost 4 years ago, to share how important an understanding of our brain is for our everyday life and results.
On today’s Episode #272 we will cover
✔ An Introduction to Season 9: Going Back to the Basics by revisiting our past Brain Fact Fridays.
✔ A reminder: What is the Reticular Activating System and How Can It Help Us to Achieve Our Goals.
✔ A Review of The Creative Process or Turning a Fantasy into a Fact.
✔ Priming Our Brain to Set Worthy Goals
✔ What the Most Current Brain Research Says to Help Us to Improve Our Goal-Setting Process
✔ Research-Based Tips to Prime Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals in 2023
This season (Season 9) we will be focused on Neuroscience: Going Back to the Basics as we revisit our past Brain Fact Fridays, narrowing in on how anything new from the field of neuroscience can be tied to improving our productivity, our results, mental and physical health. Why are we going back to the basics? When we are building something worthwhile, something that we want to last, going back to the foundations will help us to strengthen our understanding of our brain, and our mind, to our results, providing us with the extra strength we will need to overcome the obstacles and challenges that will come our way. My hopes are that this step backwards will help us to become better prepared to move forward, towards our goals, or whatever it is that we are working on this year, with this strong foundation in place.
Today’s EPISODE #272, we will go back to our very first Brain Fact Friday, that we released as a BONUS EPISODE on March 5, 2021[i], called “Using the Reticular Activating System to Set Your Intent and Achieve It” and we will dive a bit deeper into how this system in the brain (our RAS) can actually help us with whatever it is that we want in 2023. But before we get to the science behind our goals, I want to take you on a trip, that goes back to my early days of working in the seminar industry, with motivational speaker Bob Proctor, who taught me how to dream. You can watch our interview on EPISODE #66[ii] where he marvels at how he watched the dream I envisioned all those years ago reveal itself over the years, as I took his work, and created a book for teens to improve their grades, their results with sports, or sharpen their skills, that eventually was made into an online course. I remember talking with Bob about this first book, The Secret for Teens Revealed[iii], (that was really just my notes that I’d gathered over the years listening to him in the seminars helping adults to achieve their goals, written so that a teenager could apply it), and I remember telling him that I thought there was something missing that was preventing kids from embracing the concepts written within the pages. We all know how learning works, and how important it is for a student to be engaged and motivated with whatever it is they are learning. He picked up on what I was getting at, and affirmed that “it is missing something very important” and went onto a lesson for me, standing in this hallway at this seminar he was speaking at, about the Creative Process. He said “you’ll want to think about how the creative process works” and then he got on the phone and called someone and put me in contact with someone who would take the words in this book, and help them to come alive, visually, with video, he suggested.
I never did end up working with the person Bob was putting me in contact with, I forget why, but he did open up my mind for how to take the words in the book (the vision I wanted those kids to see), and bring it to life. You can do this with images in a picture book, or other ideas I’ve talked about on recent episodes with innovative and creative ideas, but we did it with video. I worked with Ryan O’Neill, who we met on EPISODE #203[iv] on “Making Your Vision a Reality” and created The Secret for Teen Revealed Online Course[v] that you find today on the UDEMY Platform.
It All Begins With The Creative Process
Before we get to the science behind this idea of goal-achieving for 2023, I think it’s important to go back to the basics here, and revisit what Bob was trying to get me to think about, standing in the hallway, when we were talking about “what was missing” from my book. He wanted me to revisit “The Creative Process” that I’ve been mesmerized by since those days I used to sell those seminars with him. I always wondered “how do people dream up big ideas and then achieve them?” Bob would say that it all begins with this process that starts when the “inventor” of the idea paints of picture of what they see.
He would talk about the Creative Process in 3 Steps:
STEP 1 FANTASY: Paint the picture of what you really want in your mind. See it clearly on the screen of your mind first. Dream it all first. We’ve talked in depth about the importance of being able to clearly see your goals on the screen of our mind on past episodes, but most recently with our Deep Dive of The Silva Method[vi].
STEP 2 THEORY: Next you will need to go from the dream world, or your imagination faculty, to your reasoning faculty, where you will create the plans you will need for the attainment of this goal. If you look at the image in the show notes, you can see that he would say it’s here you need to pass a test. Ask yourself “Am I Able to Do This?” You might look at whatever it is you’ve dreamed up and you think “I can’t do that” as you think about the hundreds of reasons why you CAN’T achieve this goal that you really want. He would say “if you really want it, you’ll find the way.” The second test you’ll need to pass is with the question “Am I Willing” to do what it takes for this goal? Are you willing to pay the price, put in the extra effort needed? It’s here that he would say that “goals are not meant for you to get them, they are meant for you to grow.”
STEP 3 FACT: Now you’ll use repetition, and a change in behavior to turn your fantasy into a fact. Whatever it is that you want, or that you’ve achieved, it wasn’t something that just came to you overnight. It was something that you created, with your imagination, starting as a fantasy, then you turned it into a theory, putting your plans into place, until over time, until your dream became a reality, or a fact.
“When you turn that fantasy into a fact, you are in a position to build even better fantasies. And that, my friend, is the Creative Process.” Bob Proctor
Dreams and Worthy Goals:
I’m hoping that whatever it is that you want, or that you are investing your time on, that it’s something worthwhile. I hope that it’s NOT something that you have achieved in the past, and you’ve just written haphazardly down while setting goals this year. I hope it’s a goal that when you look at it, and have no idea how you will accomplish it. This is a worthy goal that only comes from dreaming big, that will challenge you to grow and move beyond where you’ve been in the past. I hope whatever it is you are working on, that it’s something that you look at and think “Now how on the Earth am I going to do that?!” This is truly something worth investing your time on as it will help you to grow.
I find the creative process to be fascinating, or watching people achieve what appears to the untrained eye to be impossible, and I do believe there is a science to this process and think that a closer look at the Reticular Activating System is a first step towards unraveling the secrets to our future successes with goal-setting and achieving, with our brain in mind.
The Reticular Activating System, Our Goals and The Research
To bring the most current research in here, I’m going to go to the work of Stanford Professor and American Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman’s[vii] work, and I‘ve joined his Podcast’s Premium Channel[viii], which I probably should join as a Founding Member for how much I quote him on this podcast.
On our first episode on the RAS, we talked about the fact that in order to achieve our goals, or things that we want in our life, we must learn how to understand and use our Reticular Activating System[iv] which is a filter in our brain that helps us to focus on the things that are most important to us. If you have heard the idea that “energy flows where your attention goes” this explains why putting some focus on what we want to create in our life is so important. In our first episode we explained that Tobias van Schneider explains that the Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a “bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information, so the important stuff gets through.”[v] Van Schneider believes that the Reticular Activating System can be trained, and I agree, and it’s here that I’ll bring in Dr. Andrew Huberman’s research to show you how we can use our RAS to move us towards certain things that we want, and away from others that we don’t want.
Dr. Huberman was interviewed on The Mindset Mentor Podcast[ix] where he went much deeper into this explanation, but said to “think of the RAS as a template for what you want, or what you are looking for” and it impacts your perception, helping you to notice what you are paying attention to (or like Van Schneider said, it filters out unnecessary information, so the important stuff gets through.”
It Begins with our Perception or What We Are Paying Attention To:
He gave an example of a car that you want, explaining how the brain first uses its perception ability and notices what I’m paying attention to (this new car that I really want). I used to really want the Audi R8, but am happy with the car I have now, so I can’t say that I’ve been “looking” for R8s when I’m driving around, but if I was, you had better believe I would begin to see them everywhere. We talked about this on our first episode on the RAS with the man who invented the MAXON® Liftgate you see on the back of trucks. Once he brought my attention to this sign on the back of trucks that helps to load and unload a truck with contents, I started seeing this sign everywhere. This was my RAS at work.
Next, Our Brain Gets Involved Based on the Neuromodulator That’s High:
Dr. Huberman says that once we know we are paying attention to, that one of the four neuromodulators (acetyl choline, dopamine, epinephrine or serotonin) come into play, depending on which one is high in your system. He gave an example with if serotonin is high, you’re more likely to feel good about your environment around you, and there will be no seeking involved. You’ll be focused on things in your immediate sphere (or your home life for example) and if your dopamine is high, there’s a sense of ambition involved, where you begin to focus on things outside of your environment, or experience, and is involved in the seeking circuit. He says that “the dopamine system is all about want, desire, craving, motivation and getting more”[x] and can tie into the goal-setting, achieving experience that Dr. Huberman says is all dopamine-driven.
Our RAS Changes Our World View:
Here’s where the science bridges the gap between many of our past podcast episodes where we’ve talked about the importance of knowing what it is that you want, or even reading your goals out loud every day, that we talked about often with our Think and Grow Rich Book Review EPISODES [xi]last year. If you want to get fancy, listen to our Deep Dive on The Silva Method[xii] to visualize whatever it is that you want on the mental screen of your mind. We dove deep into this method the end of last year and it makes more sense to me now why this method is so effective. Once you know what you want, the RAS in your brain begins to work FOR you, and it will “cue up the things near you “and “help you to access memory stores about your end goal.” (Dr. Huberman). Or, like Bob Proctor taught us with the Creative Process, it begins with painting the picture of your fantasy, clearly on the screen of your mind. Now that we understand the research behind the Creative Process, thanks to Dr. Huberman, it’s easy to see how we go from Fantasy (with our perception or what we are paying attention to) to Theory (create the plans for what we want, based on the neuromodulator that’s high in our brain) to Fact (where we’ve used an understanding of our brain to create something we wanted).
PUT THIS INTO ACTION:
Try this activity that Dr. Huberman suggests and let me know what happens in your case. Before you go to bed at night, place the intention of whatever it is that you want. Whatever it is that you are working on—maybe you are writing a novel, and you are looking for new ideas (this would be your intention), maybe you are looking for a promotion at work (this would be your intention), you’re a student looking to improve your grades (this would be your intention) or improve your skills in a sport, or even earn more money, you get the picture, clearly visualize your intention before you go sleep at night, and Dr. Huberman says this activity will be “cueing up your brain to the things it should pay attention to” because like we said before, it acts like a filter “since it can’t pay attention to everything.” (Dr. Huberman).
Then the next few days, see what you notice.
- Did you have new ideas for the novel you are writing?
- Did you notice a new job opening that you could apply for that would be a promotion for you, and seems like a perfect fit for you?
- Did you notice something important you forgot to study that could have cost you some grades?
- Did you notice something new you could do with your sport to improve somehow?
The funny thing I picked up from watching this interview with Dr. Huberman is that he made a joke about the movie, The Secret, while explaining how the RAS works in this interview. If I wasn’t paying attention to everything he was saying, I would have missed it. He said that once you pay attention to what you’ve set your intention on, “you’ll start to cue up all the things near you from your conscious and subconscious mind…the things you already possess in your mind from your memory bank (to help you to attain whatever it is that you want to accomplish) and you’ll start to see things in the world (to help you) and there’s nothing secretive about this, no pun intended he says.”[xiii]
I thought it was interesting that he was referring to the movie, The Secret, that my mentor, Bob Proctor starred in, that inspired me to write The Secret for Teens Revealed. I know that Bob didn’t know the science behind goal-setting and achieving, or at least not as in depth that Dr. Andrew Huberman does, but he knew there was something happening that he saw over and over again with people who dreamed up an incredible fantasy, and then turned it into reality.
I’m glad I didn’t miss this detail and made me think of something I saw one of my early influencers mention this week, “Attention to Detail Does Matter”
Review and Conclusion:
To review and conclude this week’s Brain Fact Friday and our FIRST Brain Fact Friday from March 2021, that I think we have more than covered in depth today, DID YOU KNOW that “your RAS is a powerful system in your brain that draws you towards certain things and away from others?” (Dr. Andrew Huberman)
As we close out this episode and review of our FIRST Brain Fact Friday, I hope this understanding of our brain and this filter called the RAS has opened YOUR eyes (like it did mine) to something new, giving you an AHA Moment where you begin to draw that which you want closer to you, using the Creative Process with Science.
TO CONCLUDE THIS EPISODE, THINK ABOUT THESE QUESTIONS:
- Has this understanding of our RAS connected to the goal-setting/achieving process in your life, helped you to refine what it is you are working on this year?
- Did it help you with the goals you’ve set that seem impossible to achieve, or helped you to dream bigger than you’ve been dreaming? If you look at the notes I took at one of my first seminars Bob taught on the Creative Process, (if you can read them) you will see where I point out that when others see you working on something that’s much bigger than you, that people will come out of the woodwork who will want to help you. You just need to begin, or set the intention of what you want, in order for this to happen.
- Some other thoughts: Have you thought about what are YOU paying attention to day to day?
- Do you think about the creative process diagram, and what can you turn over to your imagination at the Fantasy Level?
- Do you even spend time dreaming?
- Have you started to use your Reasoning Faculty and then create the plans that will turn your Fantasy into a Fact?
- Are you a DOER, not just a DREAMER?
- Do you know the neuromodulators that are high in your brain? This will help you to understand which of the four neuromodulators are driving you (dopamine to look outside of your environment, or serotonin to keep you focused on things in your immediate sphere) that we spoke about, or acetyl choline (that keeps us focused) and epinephrine (for your alertness).
- Do you now think about your RAS, or your brain, and how it’s working FOR you in the Creative Goal-Setting/Achieving Process?
- Did you try the activity and go to sleep with an intention of something that you want to create, or move towards the next day?
- Did your RAS help you in any other way that I haven’t mentioned with what you want to create?
I’ll close with a quote that was inspired by someone who I know understands how the Creative Process Works:
“The difference between something good and something great, is attention to detail” Charles Swindell, and I hope that we can all see that it’s important to notice even the tiniest details.
Where our focus goes, our energy flows, and this understanding of the RAS and our brain can help us to pay attention to what matters most to us, and help us to achieve something we’ve never achieved before in 2023, which will in turn, contribute to our growth personally and professionally.
And with that, we will close out this episode, and we’ll see you next week where we will take a closer look at our next brain fact Friday on regulating our thoughts and emotions.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
This episode made me think deeply about my own creative process as I wrote this over a few days, in an early morning time slot where I have a quiet place to focus. But like my book discussion with Bob, I knew there was something missing so I woke up early, went to my office and took out some old notebooks from the seminar days to see what else I could add to make this episode to make it more than just “hey here’s how we set goals, and cool, look how our brains help us.”
I was looking for something else and a few things stood out to me from those old seminar notes. The Walden quote I opened up with was actually written on the back of one of the old seminar booklets, and I thought it was fitting for what I wanted to convey. I want us to build castles in the sky…I could almost see Bob shouting that out from the stage, using his hands to mold his castle in the sky…he’d look up and paint this image getting us to all look up and “imagine” our dream in the sky.
- What’s your dream?
- Can’t you see it painted visually?
- Can you feel it with your heart and soul?
I highly recommend going back to our Think and Grow Rich Book Study[i] to start off every new year with. There’s so much in those 6 episodes that will set us all up for success with whatever it is we are working on. The Creative Process is summed up nicely in the pages of this book.
After I had recorded this episode I had it all cued up to go out this Friday, and then something weird happened. I woke up in the middle of the night, and was almost jolted out of sleep. I kept thinking “This episode isn’t finished…”
I went to my desk and thought “what else can I add?” not knowing why I had woken up with such a force almost pushing me back to my desk to take another look at this episode. Now this was around 1:30am and I was wide awake, looking for whatever it was that needed to be added– and then I saw it.
This Friday when I was planning to release this episode marks the one year Anniversary of the day Bob passed away last year. I’m usually pretty good with dates, but the past month has been a whirlwind, I’m not even sure what time it is often, let alone the day.
I can’t believe I almost missed it if it, and wrote this episode with many examples about my past mentor, without realizing it would go out on the exact one year anniversary of when he left us. If it wasn’t for that jolt that pushed me back to my desk to take another look at it, I would have missed it.
So this episode is for you Bob, one year after you moved over from the physical world to the nonphysical where you taught us we will all go someday…and that we are still here, just in different forms of energy, like the goals we bring from the unseen world (from our imagination) to the physical world (our reality).
This trip back down memory lane was so very special—remembering how he taught many of us to dream, and to honor all those early influencers (many who’ve come on this podcast over the years) who paved the pathway for where I personally ended up today. This is what I want for all our listeners—to get to the place where you’ve given it your all—you’ve stretched yourself, gone beyond your levels of comfort, sat at the edge of your seat, leaning in, accomplished that big dream you had, leading you to things you could never have imagined before. Then I hope that you’ll teach this to others.
I’ll end this episode with the quote that I ended The Think and Grow Rich Series[ii] with…
“What story do you want to tell? What scenes do you want to shoot? How do you want the movie to end? Be the director of your life.” Bob Proctor
Whatever it is you are going after, you’ll do it when you believe it.
And I’ll see you next week.
FOLLOW ANDREA SAMADI:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndreaSamadi
Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2975814899101697
RESOURCES TO REVIEW:
Andrea and Bob’s Interview Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #66 “The Legendary Bob Proctor on “Social and Emotional Learning, Where it All Began” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-legendary-bob-proctor-on/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #190 Think and Grow Rich Book Review Deep Dive PART 1 https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-1-how-to-make-2022-your-best-year-ever/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #191 PART 2 on “Thinking Differently and Choosing Faith Over Fear” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-2-how-to-make-2022-your-best-year-ever-by-thinking-differently-and-choosing-faith-over-fear/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #193 PART 3 on “Putting Our Goals on Autopilot with Autosuggestion and Our Imagination” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-3-using-autosuggestion-and-your-imagination-to-put-your-goals-on-autopilot/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #194 PART 4 on “Perfecting the Skills of Organized Planning, Decision-Making, and Persistence” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-4-on-perfecting-the-skills-of-organized-planning-decision-making-and-persistence/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #195 PART 5 [xxviii] on “The Power of the Mastermind, Taking the Mystery Out of Sex Transmutation, and Linking ALL Parts of the Mind” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-5-on-the-power-of-the-mastermind-taking-the-mystery-out-of-sex-transmutation-and-linking-all-parts-of-our-mind/
Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #196 Think and Grow Rich Book Review Deep Dive PART 6 https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-neuroscience-behind-the-15-success-principles-of-napoleon-hill-s-classic-boo-think-and-grow-rich/
[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE on “Using The Reticular Activating System to Set Your Intent and Achieve It” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-using-the-reticular-activating-system-to-set-your-intent-and-achieve-it/
[ii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #66 “The Legendary Bob Proctor on “Social and Emotional Learning, Where it All Began” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/the-legendary-bob-proctor-on/
[iii] The Secret for Teens Revealed by Andrea Samadi https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Teens-Revealed-Teenagers-Leadership/dp/1604940336
[iv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #203 with Paranormal Researcher Ryan O’Neill on “Making Your Vision a Reality” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/case-study-with-paranormal-researcher-ryan-o-neill-on-making-your-vision-a-reality/
[v] The Secret for Teens Revealed: A 10-Step Blueprint https://www.udemy.com/course/the-secret-for-teens-revealed-a-10-step-success-blueprint/
[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #261 A Deep Dive into Applying The Silva Method https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/a-deep-dive-with-andrea-samadi-into-applying-the-silva-method-for-improved-intuition-creativity-and-focus-part-1/
[xi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #190 Think and Grow Rich Book Review Deep Dive PART 1 https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/think-and-grow-rich-book-review-part-1-how-to-make-2022-your-best-year-ever/
[xii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #261 A Deep Dive into Applying The Silva Method https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/a-deep-dive-with-andrea-samadi-into-applying-the-silva-method-for-improved-intuition-creativity-and-focus-part-1/