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Tony Robbins says this daily habit makes him successful

Tony Robbins won't be jumping on the meditation craze any time soon.

"I'm not much of a meditate-er," Robbins tells CNBC. "Trying not to think doesn't work too well for me."

Instead, the energetic entrepreneur and bestselling author engages in a series of mindfulness and breathing exercises that he says "prime" him to be more grateful throughout the day.

Simply put, "priming" is the concept that experiences, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, impact our perceptions of the world around us. Robbins cites the example of a study in which individuals were asked by a stranger to very briefly hold a cup of either hot coffee or iced coffee.

The bulk of those who received the hot beverage found the other person to be warm and caring, while a majority of those who held the cold beverage found the other person aloof.

Author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins.
The Washington Post | Getty Images
Author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

If it's so easy to change the ways we see the world around us, Robbins wondered, why not prime ourselves to more readily experience gratitude?

Robbins achieves this with a simple daily routine that he breaks into three three-minute segments.

  1. He focuses on something very simple that makes him feel grateful, like the wind in his face or a child's smile.
  2. He devotes three minutes to prayer. During this time he "sends energy" to his family, coworkers and others.
  3. He completes "three to thrive," taking the final three minutes of his routine to identify three results he's committed to achieving.

While he sometimes repeats a step or continues the routine for a longer period of time, the whole circuit takes less than 10 minutes — something, he says, that should be manageable for anyone in any phase of life or career.

"Maybe it's time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally. " -Tony Robbins, bestselling author

"If you don't have ten minutes for your life, you don't have a life," he says. "There's no excuse."

In addition to preparing him for the day, Robbins says setting aside a few minutes to focus on gratitude has long-term results as well. The two emotions that cause individuals to make poor investing or life choices are anger and fear. Gratitude can help alleviate the effects of both.

"You can't be fearful and grateful simultaneously," Robbins says, "so if you want to conquer those [emotions], maybe it's time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally."

See why Robbins says successful people avoid these 3 mental traps