Whatever we practice is what we naturally become. Even if it is not always intentional, we are always practicing something. With that profundity in mind, I have one question for you. What are you practicing?
As a child I’m assuming you learned how to read by practicing reading. In the beginning, it may have felt frustrating or even impossible. Yet, the more you practiced the easier it became until eventually it required almost no effort at all.
Practice makes perfect, right? Well, maybe not exactly. But practice does create permanent change. Anything you do over and over again will establish new neural pathways in your brain – whether you want it to happen or not.
I don’t mean to be alarming. I just want us to think about this for a minute. If we are always practicing something, then from a neuroscience perspective that means we are always engaged in the work of wiring our brains. Depending on what we are practicing, we are either wiring them to work for us or against us.
There isn’t any right or wrong answer here. How you choose to wire your brain is entirely up to you. You can do whatever you want with your gray matter, and I can do whatever I want with mine. But since we become what we practice, I’m hoping to be more intentional about practicing only those thoughts and behaviors that support who I want to be and what I want to experience.
If I want to feel a sense of belonging, then it’s up to me to practice telling myself I already belong. If I hope to be healed of my chronic pain, then it’s up to me to practice believing there is hope and pursuing hopeful solutions. If I long to experience joy, it’s only going to happen by foregoing complaining and practicing gratitude in its place.
We can practice taking responsibility for ourselves or practice being victims. We can practice using our power or practice giving it away. We can practice patience or annoyance, courage or cowardice, optimism or negativity. We are always practicing something, but are we practicing what really matters to us or are we simply operating from our default mode that balks at change and insists we are incapable of it?
Rewiring your brain takes effort, to be sure. Yet, it needn’t be arduous. Whatever we want to become, all we have to do is practice THAT. When we do, the rewiring will happen automatically.
After all, a musician doesn’t just sit around and hope to become a musician someday. Instead, they start practicing until they embody what it means to be a musician. And they keep on practicing!
If we look at our lives in the same way, then every moment is a grand opportunity to practice whatever matters most to us. We don’t have to wait for different circumstances to appear. All we have to do is to start being the very thing we want to become . . . and we can start today!