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How should I start each day? What's priming?

Picture this: it’s the morning and you have absolutely no desire to get to work. You feel lethargic, apathetic, and frustrated — there’s so much to do! You want to be focused and feeling successful, but no matter how many cups of coffee you drink, you never feel energized. You only a get a few things accomplished, setting yourself back even more the next day. Sound familiar?

When we’re tired and down, it’s hard to remember what achievement and success feel like. Luckily, there’s a simple way to change your physical state and, with it, your state of mind. Here we’ll cover priming, a way to get your day started off in the best way possible. You’ll learn the research behind this phenomenon and Tony Robbins’ priming exercise and special techniques. Ready to feel happier and take on the world?

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The science of priming (and coffee)

There have been multiple studies done about the power of priming, but one of the easiest to follow is a study done by Yale researchers. In the elevator on their way to the lab, a member of the study team (who knew what they needed to do, but not why) would casually ask the participant to hold their coffee. The team member would then write down some information about the participant, then get their coffee back. They’d all hold it somewhere between 10 and 25 seconds. For half the participants the coffee was hot, for the other half the coffee was cold. That’s the only difference.

Here’s where it gets interesting. In the lab, all the participants read the same brief description of a person. They then rated this person’s personality traits using a questionnaire. The people who’d held hot coffee for those few seconds in the elevator rated the person as more generous, happier, better natured and more social than those who’d held cold coffee. People who’d held the cold cup were more likely to say the person was unhappy, irritable and selfish. Remember, there’s absolutely no difference in what they read, but how they reacted to it was significantly different. The strangest part? They had no idea they’d been primed.

Another Harvard study looked at how Asian-American women answering a short questionnaire included either a question about their gender or ethnicity impacted their following math test scores. Those who identified their ethnicity scored 11% higher than those who identified their gender and 5% higher than the control group (who’d not had a question about their gender or ethnicity before the test). Once again, they all took the same test. But that single question before they took the test made a huge difference. This is the power of priming.

We bet you’ve experienced this phenomenon yourself. Think about an instance when you were angry or frustrated – did you then overreact to a small problem? Or a moment when you were totally in love, and 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, greatly impacting our performance.

How to practice Tony Robbins' priming exercise yourself

Instead of leaving your priming to chance, take control of your state by following Tony’s priming exercise. Read through the steps, then listen to Tony guide you through the entire process in the audio below.

The 8 steps for your 10-minute morning priming:
  1. Sit: Find a chair in a relatively quiet area and sit actively. We mean both feet on the floor, shoulders back, chest up, neck long and head high.
  2. Breath: By changing your breath, you change your state of being. Tony’s own method is to do a breathing exercise with three sets of 30 breaths each with a pause in between each set. 1 MIN
  3. Begin heart breathing: Put your hands on your heart. Feel its power and strength as you breathe into it. 30 SEC
  4. Practice gratitude: Think of three things you’re really grateful for right now. They can be from your past, your present or your future. When you think of the first thing, create as clear an image of that moment as possible, stepping into it with your mind. After about a minute, go to the next thing, then the next. *Pro tip: make one of these things simple, like a child’s smile or someone saying “thank you” who really meant it. 3 MIN
  5. Visualize: Now comes the part that’s like a blessing or a prayer. Tony imagines colored light coming down and filling his body, healing anything — body, thoughts, feelings — that needs to be healed. Imagine that any problem in your life is being solved. Ask for the best parts of you to be strengthened. 1 MIN 30 SEC
  6. Share: Now send all the energy you’ve gotten through your healing and strengthening out to the people you love. Feel the energy going up and down, pouring out to your family, loved ones, colleagues, clients, friends, even strangers you’ve only met once. 1 MIN 30 SEC
  7. Focus and celebrate: Now think about the three outcomes or goals that you want the most. These are things that will excite you once they’re complete. Now feel like they’re done. Celebrate that feeling of completion and victory, visualize how it will impact those around you. As with gratitude, go through each outcome one by one, fully experiencing the feeling of success. 3 MIN
  8. Get ready to rock: Now give your body a little stretch and go tackle the world.

If you practice priming regularly, you’ll experience an incredible shift in the quality of your thoughts and emotions. But don’t take our word for it – give it a try yourself.