This week I learned something new. I was listening to a Tony Robbins recording and he was talking about anchors. Anchors are things that we subconsciously associate emotions with. There’s probably a certain song that you can listen to and automatically feel happy. This is because your brain has anchored this song to a happy feeling so every time you hear it, your brain triggers happy emotions and you become happier as a result.

What you think is what you will become.

Your brain is like a computer. It stores information and reacts to different things based off the information that has been stored. Have you noticed a certain characteristic about yourself that you wish you could change but every time something comes up to trigger the characteristic, you act the same way? I can see areas in my life where this is true and now I know the cause. Since our brains are programmed to use past emotions to react in different situations, you have to associate the characteristics you want to change with a different emotion to see a lasting result.

Recently, I sold some computer monitors on eBay. I realized I didn’t have a big enough box to ship one of them so I knew I would have to stop by the store and get one on the way to the post office. I went to a store and they didn’t have any that were big enough. After that, I went to an actual shipping store and they wanted to charge me $7.50 for one stupid box! It took three different stops to finally get a box that would work at a reasonable price. So I got to the post office and boxed up the monitor. When I came to the counter, they weighed the box and informed me that I under weighed the item by 6 pounds and I would have to pay an additional $70 to ship it! So I had to go home without even shipping the monitor and wasted a lot of time.

After spending an hour finding a box and packing the monitor only to find out that eBay had miscalculated the item’s weight, I had some pretty significant anchors being triggered in my head. Usually, I would have been pretty upset and let it bother me for the rest of the day. Thanks to my new-found knowledge of anchors, I decided to associate neutral emotions with all the negative moments in the day and actually ended up finishing the day in a good mood.

You can change your life by changing how you think.

Anchors are a very powerful thing once you realize you can reprogram your brain. Another thing I’ve changed recently is my anchors with buying things. I’ve literally programmed my brain to be happy saving money and associate buying things with a feeling of loss. Even though I’m really just trading money for something in return, I don’t want to get used to the feeling of swiping a credit card. I want to feel like I’m adding more time to my financial independence countdown with every purchase I make (because I am).

Another cool thing about anchors is, you can train your brain to be happy in pretty much any circumstance! Have you ever been around someone that seems like they don’t ever let anything get them down? Those people that just have something positive to say even if their world is crumbling around them. This is because these people have anchored positive feelings with these circumstances. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever show signs of being frustrated. But you will overcome obstacles quicker and easier if you’re able to anchor your mind in positive emotions.

Your anchors impact your wallet.

How do anchors affect our wallets and how can we change the negative anchors to positive ones? By reprogramming your mind. I have personally always been more of a frugal person. I’ve only been in debt for one item (not including a mortgage) and been pretty decent at saving money my whole life. Even though I’ve been pretty good at being frugal, I’ve recently cranked it up a few notches thanks to changing some anchors.

In the past, I would plan to go to the store with my wife pretty much every weekend. We would wonder the isles of Target not really in need of anything, just browsing. This type of shopping resulted in a lot of unnecessary purchases like buying a t-shirt every other week even though I already had 50. These small purchases never really provide lasting fulfillment and I guess that’s the reason I kept making them. Once I realized I was doing this, I re associated my feeling of happiness with buying new items to staying at home on the weekends, doing work on the house or maybe going to yard sales to find things I can flip. I decided not to buy anymore clothes for the rest of the year and so far I have been happy with my decision, probably even happier than before.

How do we change our spending habits?

The process of changing your anchors is simple. If you have a happy anchor when you buy things, all you have to do is replace the action of buying things with saving money instead. You keep the positive feeling and associate it with a different action. If you have a negative feeling about something that’s good for you, then you need to associate the action with something that gives you a positive emotion.

Take going on a diet for instance, you probably have a positive anchor when it comes to eating tasty food. Because of this, you associate a diet with deprivation and hunger. Your positive anchor for food always wins because you only associate going on a diet with a negative feeling. I’ve only been eating 1500 calories a day for the past 2 months and I can tell you it took some reprogramming to get my brain to be satisfied. Now that I’m deep into the diet, my brain is used to it and I’ve lost over 15 pounds as a result. I had to get my brain to take the happiness food gave me and associate it with being healthier, fitting into my clothes better and feeling better about the way I look.

So what do your anchors say about you? With a little reprogramming, you can become a completely different person. You become a millionaire in your mind before you actually have a million dollars. It’s all in the way you think.