Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead; follow him on twitter.
I have a secret.
But I’m not sure if I should tell you.
I mean, it pretty much lets me do whatever I want. I can overcome towering odds. I can keep going when all I feel like doing is throwing in the towel. I can defeat the most terrifying of fears.
I bet it could do the same for you… if only you knew what it was.
Actually… it’s kind of embarrassing. It’s about my underwear.
When I wear red underwear, I can do anything.
Seems a little silly, doesn’t it? I mean, what’s so special about red underwear? (No, I’m not talking about the lacy risque kind, just regular briefs. Promise.)
I honestly don’t know what it is. Something about them just makes me feel almighty. It’s like nothing can get in my way and nothing can stop my superhuman powers.
So, what does this have to do with you? Why should you keep reading for any reason other than the lure of underwear?
Because there’s a little thing called NLP going on here, or — big word coming — neuro-linguistic programming. (For more info on NLP check out Tim’s blog here). It’s basically taking an object, a symbol, a gesture, or a movement and turning it into a trigger. It’s programming yourself to react or feel a certain way when an event is triggered. It’s part power of suggestion, part power of intention. And it works.
Although I didn’t intend to do this with my red underpants, it’s still the same thing happening. An event, the wearing of my superhuman briefs, causes an emotional response in my mind and body. In this case, the feeling of being unstoppable.
You’ve probably felt this way before with a lucky hat or a piece of jewelry that means a lot to you. Or it could be something like a batter hitting the ground 3 times before he goes to swing. Whatever it is, there’s some serious awesomeness going on there.
The key is to take that unintentional programming and apply it intentionally. Instead of letting things trigger emotional responses within you on accident, it makes more sense to do it on purpose, right?
Leo says that effectively changing your habits requires a trigger to help you remember to take action. In the same way, you can use triggers in your routine to help you create certain emotional states. Ideally, the key is to be able to set off triggers anywhere, so you’re not dependent on something else (like listening to a song, or watching a scene from a movie). Although those can be secondary options, too.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you want to help yourself get in a creative state, you can setup an environmental trigger. Maybe that means sitting in a certain chair (putting on your thinking cap, as it were). Or it could be triggered by a change in your breathing (slower or more rapid breathing).
- To get excited about exercise, you might setup a trigger by moving a certain way or doing a visualization. You could make your trigger swinging your arms back and forth and visualize yourself in front of mirror with your ideal body. Use something that gets you pumped up. MMA fighters and boxers do this all the time by slapping their chests or face. Not recommended, but you get the idea.
- In order to put yourself in a state of confidence, you could create triggers in your posture. Sitting straight and stretching my arms above my head always makes me feel more confident.
- To trigger yourself into a state of focus, you can touch your eyes or massage your temples.
- Putting your hand on your heart is a great idea for cultivating an open mind and preparing yourself to really listen to someone.
These are just a few ideas; you can make up your own triggers. They can also be environmental, like engineering the attentional feng shui of your room. Take a look at your space and see what kind of triggers it sets off in you. Are they reinforcing your passions and your goals?
What this really comes down to is unleashing your inner superhero alter ego. Maybe you can’t keep going, but your superhero alter ego can.
Maybe you can’t write those 5 pages of your book you committed to, after you worked 9 hours, made dinner, and put the kids to bed. But your superhero alter ego can. Use the power of NLP to setup triggers to unleash your inner awesomeness.
Just try it. You never know… maybe your underwear is magical, too.
PS: Can you afford to let another year slip away without following your dreams? My upcoming ebook, Reclaim Your Dreams – A Step By Step Guide to Making Your Dreams a Reality, will be launching on January 13th to help you on your path. For exclusive tips on fast-tracking making your dreams a reality and a special, exclusive discount on my book for Zen Habits readers go here to get on the list.
This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind. To learn more about how to reclaim your life, grab a subscription to Illuminated MInd
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