Taking Advantage of the Power of Priming – How our environment influences our thoughts

 In Better Life

Earlier this fall, I noticed that every time I sat down in my home office to get something done, I struggled to find any motivation!  I would look at my list of “to-do’s” and feel like I was in a fog.  I was sharing my frustration with a dear friend who asked me what I thought the problem was.  I said I wasn’t sure, but I knew the piles of paper and clutter surrounding my desk were NOT helping.  She jumped on my comment immediately.

“Do you have a couple of empty boxes?” she asked.  With boxes in hand, she proceeded to remove the messy contents on the horizontal surfaces.  In less than 10 minutes, the office seemed larger, less oppressive, and I felt a sense of freedom.  That initial shift fired up my motivation to sort through the boxes and the remaining clutter.

Then my friend informed me that she would help me create a space that was inviting, energizing, and that fueled my creativity. With her amazing skills, she redecorated my office into something that I find truly inspiring!  What a difference! I wish I could show you a “before” picture, but it never occurred to me to take a photo of the mess.

Psychological Priming

Why am I sharing this?  My experience reminded me of a fascinating area of science called “psychological priming.”  It’s all about how our external factors influence our thinking and behavior without us even noticing it’s happening.  This includes other people, physical surroundings, words, sounds, scents, temperature, colors,  etc. Studies have shown that excessive clutter can also play a role, overloading our senses, resulting in decreased performance and creativity and increased stress. Check out this article to learn more.

The exciting news is that we can take advantage of the power of “priming” because we have control over many aspects of our surroundings. Take a look around your living and work spaces.  What could you change or eliminate that would create a more motivating and inspiring environment?  If you’re like me, you may need to ask a trusted friend for help.


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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association.

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