This past weekend was filled with a wide range of activities for myself and Dr. Ryan. On Saturday morning, I had a chance to go for a 3 hour bike ride through the western Loudoun countryside on one of my favorite routes. It is on these long rides when I get the chance to take in all of my surroundings and appreciate the world around me. I began to think about all of the information my senses were taking in. My eyes were seeing the greens and browns of the mountains and vineyards, my ears listened in the chatter of the birds and the whirl of my bicycle tires, my nose could smell the trees, farms and cow pastures, and my skin could feel the cool air passing by and the pressure of the pedals underneath my feet.
I began to consider how much information all of these senses were sending to my brain at the same time. Although I didn’t come up with a way to measure the exact amount, I concluded that it must be a lot! I began to wonder how I was able to focus on certain aspects of what I was experiencing during my ride. One moment I could pay attention to the countryside I was seeing pass by. Then I could switch and focus on the burning that my legs were feeling physically. The ability to switch focus had me thinking!
Our brains take in way more information than we’re consciously aware of. Top neuroscientists have discovered that our brains take in over 400 billion bits of information per second. That is billion with a B. But we’re only consciously aware of about 2,000 of those bits. In a recent podcast, Tony Robbins asked his audience to look around the room and count how many brown things they saw. Then he had them close their eyes, and he asked them how many red things they had seen. The audience laughed because they hadn’t noticed anything red because their minds were focused on counting things that were brown. His point was that our minds are able to see the things that we are looking for. Our minds are also very good at blocking the things out that we aren’t focused on. This is why we aren’t aware of the 400 billion bits of information every second, otherwise we would be in information overload.
What is Focus?
Let’s expand this concept of focus to our business, athletic or personal lives. What are we focusing on in each of these areas that our minds are seeing, and what are we blocking out? When we focus on the negative, or the pain, or the bad, or what we are lacking, that is all that our mind will see. In business, if we focus on what we don’t have or what we are struggling with, that is what we will attract more of. In athletics, if we focus on how slow we are or the skills we are not good at, it will be that much harder to improve.
However, if we focus on our strengths and the things that we want to see more of in our lives, that’s what our minds will see. We will always be faced with a bombardment of information. But with this ability to bring things to the forefront of our minds, we are able to see more productivity, improvement, efficiency, happiness, and inner peace.
The Good News:
Just like many activities, focus is a skill that can be learned and improved. The ability to bring the things you want to the front of your mind, and block out the rest is a skill that takes consistent practice and discipline. The good news is that lots of research is being done in the area of neuroplasticity that shows that we have the ability to re-program our brains to form new habits and lifestyle changes. There are many ways to do this, and new strategies are on the rise. Common practices include consistent meditation and breath-work. We also know that regular chiropractic care stimulates the brain and central nervous system, enhancing our ability to adapt to our environment.
After working on these ideas over the weekend, the takeaway for me was this: what would I like to focus on in my life? By focusing on more abundance, productivity, and joy, my mind will start to bring more of this to the forefront. If you have identified areas in your life you’d like to focus more on, and would like to learn more about how to create the habits that bring this focus into your life, read the resources attached below and visit our office!