If you wait until you need to shift your mindset to put effort into your mindset, you are establishing reactive attitude habits.
Proactive attitude habits increase your ability to manage difficult situations as they arise.
I like the idea of ‘prepping’ or ‘priming’ your positive mindset because this attitude habit puts you consciously in front of whatever life circumstance you might face.
I was raised around yard equipment, so I think of priming a positive mindset like pushing the primer on a lawn mower to mix the oil and the gas, or pulling a few short strokes on a chain saw rope to mix the oil and the gas. The priming helps the equipment start and run properly.
Establishing attitude habits to prime a positive mindset throughout your day helps your brain engage and perceive what’s going on around you through a different filter than those who wing it, reacting unconsciously to whatever they encounter.
This article is an excerpt from Catherine Goggia’s book, “LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits, available on Amazon:
For me, required priming is quiet when I wake up; preferably, at least one hour, and more than that is a priming bonus. I don’t want to start my day answering questions, explaining what I’m doing, or responding to requests. I don’t want to listen to banging or clanging activities.
I want to start each day with one good cup of coffee and a quiet activity such as positive reading. On most days I talk and give a lot, so taking in positive information or inspiration fills me up and prepares me to give to others.
If possible, I also like to spend some time outdoors before I go to work.
These needs lead me to getting up early. If I need quiet time to myself, I need to get up before other people get up. If I want some time in nature before I go to work, I need to get up early enough to make that happen without too much rush/stress.
I’ve observed when adults don’t manage their time wisely and establish positive attitude habits for them and their children, the entire household pays the price. For example, not getting to bed early enough to get up at the ideal time, sets up stressful mornings: “Hurry up, get up, we’re late, no time for breakfast, what are you doing?!”
What “they” (your children) are doing is acting like whatever age they are. Once at school, have you primed for happy success? Not likely unless you are also priming yourself for happy success. I’ve had many discussions with students about the importance of morning routines that set their children up to feel good when they leave home for school.
We all have rough mornings now and then. I’m concerned about rough mornings being the norm.
I confess, after watching, “The Wire”, I know I’m in no way an expert on how inner city people should manage their lives or prime the positive. Maybe it’s the same for everyone, but maybe it’s not. I don’t know because I haven’t experienced anything like what I saw portrayed on that show. If you have survived that life with a positive attitude intact, I encourage you to write your own book that could probably speak more powerfully to that audience than my book. Better yet, develop a talk you can take on the road.
I write about what I know and the approaches that have been effective for my students and clients. I write from the perspective of a white, middle class, person raised in a very structured environment. Maintaining structure helps me succeed.
This chapter in the book includes many action based questions linked to the 4 learning styles:
Meal time: it’s best if you focus on eating instead of distracting yourself with other activities while eating. First, this helps you pay attention to how much you are eating, and helps you taste every bite. When you focus on eating, you won’t want to watch the news, for example, because you are priming negativity while fueling your body.
You can prime yourself for a healthy second half of your day if you take breaks and put yourself in a different environment. Give your brain and body a break by putting your focus on things that make you happy and feel relaxed. For example, taking a walk during your lunch break might prime you to have great ideas or increased energy during the second half of your shift.
I tend not to want to take breaks, so I set a timer on my phone to remind me to take breaks. This is something I continue to work on.
Think also about priming your children (if you have them) and your partner (if you have one) and especially yourself for a peaceful and restorative night’s rest. Avoid taking in negative or stressful information before you go to bed. Avoid eating right before bed. Put your devices somewhere where they won’t interrupt your sleep, or use timers to shut them down if you use them to go to sleep. Pay attention to your bedding, lighting, and the organization of your sleep space.
When it comes to priming, it’s also important to realize the ways you might be priming yourself for the negative. For example, if you are preparing for a meeting with someone you think is negative, you might focus on the troubling things they’ve done or said. In that case, you are priming for the negative and your defensiveness will likely trigger in that person the very behaviors you dread.
If you are getting ready for a telephone call to an ex to make arrangements for child care changes, and you spend time focused on what an ignorant #@*! the person is, then you have primed yourself for a negative interaction and that’s the energy YOU bring to the situation.
I know how it is when a person has a proven track record for being the ignorant #@*! you expect them to be. Priming a positive mindset helps us take control of our attitudes instead of giving those people control over our attitudes. You might open up the possibility that this could be the day they behave differently. Certainly this could be the day you stay neutral and calm no matter what the other person does or says – that’s the focus point in this type of priming. Instead of allowing those people to control your attitude, you focus on yourself in your highest potential and do what you need to do prior to those interactions and maintain who you truly want to be.
The only aspect of these situations you can control is your behaviors before, during, and after the interactions. As part of priming your mindset, focus on that. Focus on what you CAN do, not the aspects over which you have zero control.
After a recent training a participant approached me. She told me I had helped her, “So much.” She said, “You probably don’t remember this, but last year during a training you came up to me, asked a couple of questions, and started talking to me as if you knew exactly what was going on at work for me. I couldn’t believe it. You gave me a suggestion for how to prepare before those situations, and what to say during those situations. It was so simple and gracious, I couldn’t believe it. It changed everything and took such a weight off me. I just wanted you to know, so thank you.”
That feedback was very nice to receive and I always appreciate it when people let me know individual coaching or group training has helped them. But it’s important you know it’s not about me. You see, she had to be willing to take time to prime and then say words very different from those she typically used with coworkers in that situation. She had to be willing to make the effort and do the work. Outcome? She feels better and has more energy to focus on her job. That’s just two of the benefits of priming a positive mindset.
I had a client tell me she is using priming to focus on a career transition. She focuses on the parts of her current job she enjoys, but doesn’t waste so much time mentally complaining about taking a job she doesn’t like as much as her last job. In this way she has more energy to go home and research job options. By applying this creative thinking, she is enjoying her current job more!
The biggest resistance I receive to scheduling time to prime the positive is people tell me they don’t have time. I believe we end up taking the time trying to undo negativity or work through unnecessary confusion if we don’t prime the positive on the front end of our day and throughout the day. Worse, we might unintentionally hurt people’s feelings if we don’t take time to engage a positive mindset.
LIVE IT! means creating rituals to prime the positive – especially when you aren’t feeling very positive!
This chapter includes a closing statement, limiting beliefs, supporting beliefs, action planner, and illustrations.