Mental Priming and Failure

Writing again!

It’s been so incredibly long since I’ve written a blog post. Probably about  2 and a half years in fact.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately about startups and entrepreneurialism and so many of the successful people that get interviewed say that they blog quite often.  Thinking back to when I wrote fairly consistently, those times were when I felt the most engaged with whatever it was that I was doing. Even outside of the blog and other projects I was working on, I felt engaged.

I think there might be some kind of discipline that’s developed in writing blog posts.  Sometimes, a blog post helps you asses a situation or an event that happened. Similarly, perhaps, to writing a personal journal. So it’s good to fire up the blog again!

So that said, the title of this post….what am I talking about?

The Setup

I’ve been reading this book “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, it’s pretty heavy on the psychology speak, he spends a lot of time talking about studies that have been done and papers that have been published. But even with all the psychobable goes on in the book, he’s able to make it really easy to understand and super easy to read in my opinion.

There’s a concept called “Mental Priming” in chapter 4 that basically says that if you’re thinking about something forced to think something then that can have other mental and even physical affects as an outcome of being exposed to those thoughts. This might seem like a “duh” moment to some people reading this but here’s where it got interesting for me.

Kahneman talks about an experiment where college students were given 5 words and then told to make a 4 word sentence out of the given words. In one case they used words that we associate with the elderly, like “Florida”, “Grey”, “Wrinkles” etc..

The next part of the experiment was to have the students walk down the hallway to another room where they were told would be another task. The sneaky part was that they were timing how long it took the students to walk from one room to the other after mentally working on a problem involving words associated with the elderly. They found that the students walked slower down the hall after working with the words associated with the elderly than with words associated with speed or something else that may have a normal physical pace.

Conclusion and TL;DR;

For me this was an eye opener, I don’t think we realize how sensitive our minds are to our environment. We can also train our minds and it might physically affect our environment and our day to day interactions.  I made a new years resolution to stop saying “I feel old” and “I’m tired” all the time in order to train myself to stay positive. Mentally priming yourself with a negative outlook could have much more far reaching effects on your life and relationships than you realize consciously and unconsciously.

I hope this helped broaden your frame of mind on how our thoughts change our actions. I highly recommend this book! Each chapter has made me excited and helped me understand how our minds work. I would almost say that you can figure out a lot of lifehacks in paying attention to what Kahneman has to say.

Mental Priming and Failure