While at the gym yesterday, I noticed that while I normally feel pretty good about 15 minutes into my cardio, I was in a bit of a funk. Was I starting to get sick? No. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Nope, my kids even sleep through the night!

At that moment it hit me. I normally like to listen to videos, podcasts or audiobooks on some type of motivating, growth oriented content. That day I had a particular video picked out, but was having issues getting it to play and finally aborted my plan and watched the TV’s in front of me.

The programming was pretty typical at that time in the morning at my gym. The E! channel was on my left, ESPN straight ahead and CNN to the right.

As I paid more attention, these were the three items on the air simultaneously:

1)      The Kardashians – Momma Kardashian was complaining about an upcoming luxury first class trip to Thailand. The complaint? Having to spend too much time with her husband. Kim meanwhile was complaining about how nobody in her family was excited enough about her being on the cover of Vogue. The nerve!

2)      ESPN was talking about “Deflategate”, whether or not the New England Patriots purposely let air out of the football below league rules in the AFC Championship game. Did Tom Brady lie at his press conference, are the Patriots cheaters? Does everybody cheat and they just got caught?

3)      CNN had a story about how 60% of Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

No wonder I was in a funk!

I am very familiar with Priming and new instantly what was going on.

Each of us has the most powerful tool on earth at our disposal.Our brain. There are between 80-100 million neurons in our brain and each one of those connects to thousands of others. It has enormous processing power, but most of this processing occurs behind the scenes in the subconscious.

For every one neuron in the conscious part of the brain, there are 1 million neurons dedicated to subconscious processing. This part of your brain is very active even though you aren’t aware of it most of the time. It is monitoring bodily functions and processing all the sights, sounds and input from the external world.

I heard one neuroscientist describe our conscious mind like a “post it note” and the subconscious like a “NASA super computer.”

So why is this important and how does this relate to my experience at the gym?

We are heavily influenced by our external circumstances, even if we aren’t consciously aware of it. When you read something, are engaged in a conversation, or interact with others – your brain is automatically predicting what is most likely to happen next.

For example, even if I leave out a few ______ from this _______, your _____ can still read it and understand it just fine.

Let’s look at another example I picked up from Steve Pavlina. Read the following words below.

  • Distance
  • Car
  • Gasoline
  • Petroleum
  • Mileage
  • Efficiency

Now fill in the two missing letters and complete this word:

 F_ _L

What did you come up with? When I use this exercise with my clients and students, 80-90% choose U and E to create FUEL.

There are many more possible combinations, but almost all will pick a word that correlates to the words you read right before the activity. Makes sense right? I primed your brain to process fuel by the choice of words listed.

Now this is a simple exercise, but we are being PRIMED all the time. This happens even when we aren’t consciously aware of it (remember the role of the subconscious).

The TV’s in front of me at the gym were all focused on the negative. No wonder I felt lousy!

Most of us are bombarded by information all the time: news, the internet, social media, and other people.

How much of it is positive and conducive to putting you in a great state?

The media’s primary motivation is ratings. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it just is what it is. Most media programing is designed to disturb you and get your attention, more so than inform you. “If it bleeds, it leads”. The more they shock you, the more you will watch. If you really start to pay attention, I bet you will find that 80% – 90% or more of the content is negative. Death, fear, sickness, terrorism, poor economy….

If you prime your brain constantly with the negative, your brain will react accordingly. It will point out all the negative in the word, alert you to all the things missing in your life, constantly alert you to what might go wrong and lead to stress, worry and fear.

Your brain is not designed to keep you happy and successful. It is designed to protect you and keep you safe.

YOU must take control and prime yourself with the right information, the right people and the right input.

What is one thing you can change in your everyday life to prime yourself for success and happiness?

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen