Do you wake up each morning feeling lethargic, sluggish, overwhelmed or apathetic about work and the day ahead of you? Or maybe there’s an obstacle that continues to occupy your mind at every moment. Like many people, you want to be focused and feel successful, but no matter how many cups of coffee you drink, you never get to that place where you are saying, “I feel like I can take on anything put in front of me.” If this sounds familiar, it may be time for you to discover the power of priming.
Life can be challenging. When we’re tired and down, it can be hard to remember what achievement, success and fulfillment feel like. The truth is, you can turn your life around by facing your problems head on. You can learn to change your state of mind by changing your physical state.
Your morning ritual is a great place to start. What you do first thing in the morning has a powerful and long-lasting impact on the rest of your day. Priming is a way to get your day started off in the best way possible. In this post, you’ll learn the research behind priming psychology, why and how it works, and a few exercises and proven techniques.
HOW DO RESEARCHERS DEFINE PRIMING AND ITS EFFECTS ON MOOD?
Study #1: Temperature influences perception
Priming theory is backed by research, which has shown that our reactions are “primed” by our moods and experiences. When you learn how to set and reset your mood, you’ll prime yourself for success.
There are numerous studies on the power and benefits of priming, but the one that best illustrates the basis of priming is a 2008 study conducted by Yale psychologists. In the elevator on their way to the lab, one researcher casually asked the participant to hold their coffee. The team member would then write down some information about the participant, before asking for their coffee back. Each participant would hold the cup of coffee for somewhere between 10 and 25 seconds. For half the participants the coffee was hot, while the other half held cold cups of coffee. That’s the only difference between the two groups of participants.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In the lab, all the participants read the same brief description of a random individual and rated the individual’s personality using a questionnaire. Participants who’d held hot coffee rated the person as happier, better natured, and more generous and social. Participants who’d held the cold cup were more likely to say the person was unhappy, irritable and selfish.
Remember, there was absolutely no difference between the profiles that both groups read. But how they reacted to the descriptions was significantly different. The strangest part? They had no idea they had been primed.
Study #2: Irrelevant questions affect brainpower
In another example, Harvard researchers looked at how answering a short questionnaire, which included either a question about their gender or ethnicity, impacted the subsequent math test scores of Asian American women. Those who were asked to identify their ethnicity scored 11% higher than those who were asked to identify their gender and 5% higher than the control group (who didn’t have a question about their gender or ethnicity before the test). Once again, they all took the same test, but that single question made a huge impact on their test scores. This is the power of priming.
Study #3: Yourself
You’ve certainly experienced this phenomenon yourself, maybe without even knowing it. Think about a situation when you were angry or frustrated – did you then overreact to a small problem? Did everything seem worse, because you were still hung up on the event that made you angry? You were feeling the priming effect of your anger, which caused you to react a certain way. Or think of a moment when you were totally in love, and felt that nothing could go wrong – that was because you were primed by the feeling of love.
The bottom line? Our thoughts, feelings and emotions can be primed by factors we’re not even aware of, which greatly impacts our performance in other aspects of our lives. When practiced properly and regularly, priming can help you cultivate positive emotions and drastically change the quality of your life.
So, how can you use the psychology of priming to better your life?
HOW TO PRACTICE PRIMING YOURSELF
Now that you know about the foundations of priming, how can you use it to start each day with renewed energy, vitality, motivation, focus and clarity?
It’s time to take control of your state – no more waking up on the wrong side of the bed or excuses about not being where you want in life. Stop leaving your priming to chance and learn how to get yourself into a perpetual state of balance and high-performance with this simple priming exercise.
Priming doesn’t have to be a long process. In as little as 10 minutes a day, you can start to experience the benefits in your performance, mood and state. Taking this time in the morning, along with a healthy breakfast, can help you get into a peak state and change your day for the better. You will set a high baseline for your day so that you can accomplish great things in every other area of your life.
THE 8 STEPS FOR YOUR 10-MINUTE MORNING PRIMING
Here’s how you can start priming no later than tomorrow morning:
1. Sit. Find a chair in a relatively quiet area and sit actively. Place both feet on the floor, shift your shoulders back, chest up, and hold your neck long and your head high.
2. Breathe deeply and slowly. By changing your breath, you change your state of being. 1 MINUTE
3. Begin heart breathing. Put your hands on your heart. Feel its power and strength as you breathe into it. 30 SECONDS
4. Practice gratitude. Think of three things you’re really grateful for right now. They can be from your past, present, or future. Step into the first moment and picture it as vividly as possible. After about a minute, go to the second thing, then onto the next. *Pro tip: Make one of these things simple, like a child’s smile or a time someone said, “thank you” and really meant it. Even on your worst days, you can find something small and meaningful to be grateful for. 2 TO 3 MINUTES
5. Visualize. Now comes the part that’s like a blessing or a prayer. It can be as spiritual as you want it to be. I like to imagine colored light coming down and filling my body, healing anything that needs to be healed – body, thoughts, emotions, feelings. Envision your problems being washed away. Ask for the best parts of you to be strengthened. 1 TO 2 MINUTES
6. Share. Now send all the energy you’ve gotten through your healing and strengthening out to others. Feel the energy going up and down, pouring out to your family, loved ones, colleagues, clients, friends and even strangers you’ve only met once. 1 TO 2 MINUTES
7. Focus and celebrate. Now think about the three outcomes or goals that you want to achieve the most. These are things that will excite you once they’re completed. What would achieving them feel like? Place yourself in that position of achievement and celebrate that feeling of completion and victory. Visualize how it will impact you and what those victories could do for those around you. As with gratitude, go through each outcome one by one, fully experiencing the feeling of success. 3 MINUTES
8. Get ready to rock. Take as long as you’d like to stretch and reflect on all of the positive work you just did. You are now positioned to excel in the state of your optimal self. Stay in character and get out there to win the day!
Are you ready to start achieving your goals and creating real, lasting change in your life? If you practice priming regularly, you’ll start building muscle memory and experience an incredible shift in the quality of your thoughts and emotions. When you prime your mind to experience more positivity, you’ll not only find more fulfillment in the everyday, but become more able to reach your goals, too. Give it a try yourself!
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