On the value of pre-living what you want to achieve

Last week I followed the morning routine of Tony Robbins, consisting of

  • Cold shower
  • Special breathing
  • Special mindfulness practice

Results? Quick summary is: Yes (cold shower and gratitude); Meh/so-so (breath and feeling God); Hell yes! (one golden nugget in the last part).

But let’s go one by one (or feel free to skip to main takeaway at the end of this article).

Part 1: Taking cold shower

No issue. I rarely turn on the water heater by default for about 2 years. But I can’t brag about it because in Singapore the usual “cold water” is not really that cold.

January is a good time of year for cold shower experiments – it is rainy season and the water temperature was around 25-26 after a cloudy day. On Sunday it climbed to 27.5 C after a sunny Saturday. Maybe I should try Wim Hof’s ice risotto recipe.

I experimented with the timing before or after the other parts. It makes sense to do the cold shower first – it gives a bit of kick for the rest, and does not chase away the good thoughts from part 3.

Part 2: Breathing

Tony’s version of breath of fire (video of normal breath of fire here) is not an easy thing to do if you’re not used to it – and I wasn’t. I’m sure I looked very funny doing it, especially my frustrated face when I could not synchronize the correct belly movement with correct arm movement (try extending arms overhead while breathing in and expanding belly, and going down with breathing out and collapsing belly).

Breath of fire also made me feel dizzy even after round 1, but that may be by design (Wim Hof method also includes lightheadedness and tingling). Instead of feeling energized I would start yawning every time.

But maybe this is just my challenge – I struggle with correct breathing during normal yoga as well.

I tried the other option too – boxed breathing during a walk. I find it much more manageable and I like that I can do it while walking.

Part 3: Mindful practice

This is where I was struggling the most, but also where I found the most value.

First 3 minutes are quite easy – I’ve “done gratitude” before and it was very positive and warm. Highly recommended, it’s one of those things that sound cheesy but actually work.

It’s the second part that was giving me most trouble. Feeling God healing your body, mind, relationships and financials is really challenging if you don’t actually believe in God.

But by lucky coincidence I had a discussion about similar woo-woo-ish practice with my good friend, and he told me that instead of the “higher being” in his practice instructions he imagines his future self. After I re-framed priming practice this way, it got much easier. I’m still uncomfortable with the idea of my troubles being magically healed by someone, even if it’s my future self, but I was able to let it go for those 3 minutes.

The last part was focusing on “three to thrive” – thinking about three things I’m I am striving for as if they already happened.

What I liked about it is that it made me think not only about what are the things I want to achieve and to define them properly, but also define and feel how it will look in real life when I succeed.

It’s helpful because of two reasons

  • It made me think what are my priorities
  • It made me think about those priorities in more concrete and relatable way.

Why is that important? Because even seemingly specific goals may be too hazy and thus difficult to follow.

Let’s say I want to start a new habit, maybe ketogenic diet.

You could say “my meal will be at least 75% fat, and less than 10% carbs”. That’s correct and specific, but if you have not eaten such a meal, it’s difficult to imagine it until you see it on your plate. On the other hand, if you can prepare by looking at a few ketogenic meals, it will be much easier for you to spot whether some carbs sneaked on your lunch plate.

Similar principle can be transferred to intangibles.

One of my priorities I was focusing on was based on book by Marshall Rosenberg about Nonviolent communication. I think NVC principles can greatly improve my life, so my aim is to learn to follow them.

But even if I quantify that goal into “in 6 months I want to use it at least 75% in all of my private communication with family and friends, and at least 40% in business”, it doesn’t really help. I’s specific, but not easy to relate to.

Better way to relate to it is to imagine how will it look when I implement NVC, how do I behave in those situations, how do I react to people and how would people react back, and how great it would make me feel. NVC is still very much work in progress for me, but thinking in these terms makes it easier for me to spot when non-non-violent communication sneaks into my behavior, or even avoid it.

So my takeaway from Priming experiment is this:

It is helpful to “pre-live what you want to achieve”. It motivates, and it makes it easier to spot when you deviate from the right course.

But my morning routine is packed, and I didn’t like that I had no time to do my usual exercise. Therefore I will implement this in a slightly different way – for next 10 weeks I will take 10 minutes every Friday morning (=appointment in calendar) to think about my “3 to thrive” and how will they look and feel when achieved.

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