The thing you practice most grows strongest

Published: September 15, 2017
Author: Steven Thomas

Neurons that fire together, wire together

Take a few minutes and consider this.  What do you practice most regularly?  In fact, take it one stage further.  Have a try at breaking the question into physical and mental practices. So, what thoughts do you practice regularly and what actions do you practice regularly?

If you're anything like me, you'll no doubt have a mix of positive and not so positive practices.  For instance, I write regularly on CurveFinder and it has helped me become better at writing (well, at least a little better) and also how I think about self-development in tough situations. Similarly, like much of the human race, I've also established a practice of looking at my phone way too often. It's not until I have an enforced digital-detox (on our annual family holiday) that I realise how much of a negative practice it has become.  Another example might be if I have a talk or a presentation to deliver. If I choose to rehearse it 10 times compared to twice (or even not at all), guess what, I deliver it better.

"Modern neuroscience has discovered a fundamental truth: Neurons that fire together, wire together. When we rehearse a looping set of thoughts and emotions, we create deeply grooved patterns of emotional reactivity. This means that the more you think and rethink about certain experiences, the stronger the memory and the more easily activated the related feelings become." - Tara Brach

Mindfulness and meditation experts like Tara Brach and Shanua Shapiro often tech on the principle what you practice most grows strongest.  Equally, health and fitness experts pretty much universally teach that if you put in the reps on the right type of exercises then you will see and feel the benefits.

The good news for us all is that we can assess our daily practices and choose to optimise our approach to literally anything we do.  There is new scientific evidence emerging all of the time proving that our brains are plastic and that, through doing the right reps and exercises, we can re-wire, re-learn and re-model our thought patterns and subsequently our actions.

Wondering what to do next?

Why not write a list of positive and negative practices.

Read what I've previously written on meditation

Check out Leo Babauta's Quick guide to quitting bad habits

Perhaps investigate some personal coaching with Sarah McCrum

Consider using the Headspace app

Or download the Habit List app