While at Mayo Clinic for my Wellness Coaching training, Dr. Michael Burke talked much about “what fires together, wires together.” While this seemed counterintuitive to me at first and that it should be the other way around, it makes perfect sense. When you repeat an experience over and over, your brain learns to trigger the same neuronal pathway each time. What was once difficult, becomes easy and automatic. This axiom fits perfectly in the START SOMEWHERE philosophy of small, positive health changes that leave us feeling inspired rather than deprived!
Although I initially heard it at Mayo Clinic, this clever phrase was first used by Donald Hebb in 1949. Dr. Hebb was an influential Canadian neuropsychologist who sought to understand how neurons in the brain contributed to learning. His Hebbian Theoryteaches that every thought, feeling, experience, and physical sensation triggers thousands of neurons to form a complex network. As the same neurons are triggered over and over, the brain creates a strengthened neural network, and the reaction becomes more automatic each time it is traveled. The new connections from this reaction can be negative or positive and this firing and wiring happens in all areas of life. The good news is that our brains are designed with “neuroplasticity” and can make intentional changes in the right direction at any age.
Rather than making radical changes, it is much better to take small steps in the right direction and let your brain adapt and form strong neuronal interconnections. Additionally, it is essential to train your brain with positive truth to steer your thoughts in the right direction. As with many areas of health and vitality, I believe that God said it first! The book of Proverbs takes practical matters and beautifully interweaves them with spiritual truth. We are told in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” It matters what we think, and we must be intentional about what we concentrate on. One way to build strong connections is to practice affirmations. Think of where you want your mind to go automatically and then start building your own brain cell superhighway to arrive there more automatically. I use scripture to train my brain for where I want to be; here are a few of my daily affirmations:
- Jesus is first in my life. I exist to serve and glorify Him with all my resources.
- I am fearless. God has given me everything I need for what He has called me to do.
- God is my provider. I can relax and trust Him.
Neural networks grow and develop based on use. Conversely, those that go unused wither and decay. “What fires together, wires together” is a simple concept, yet it has huge ramifications for your vitality. START SOMEWHERE today making small changes to increase your healthspan and have more zest for life. You can do it. I will help you.