The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner
My rating: 6/10
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Focus on the process.
We erroneously think that there is a magical point that we will reach and then we will be happy. We look at the process of getting there as almost a necessary nuisance we have to go through in order to get to our goal.
When you focus on the process, the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease. When you focus on the product, you immediately begin to fight yourself and experience boredom, restlessness, frustration, and impatience with the process.
In order to focus on the present, we must give up, at least temporarily, our attachment to our desired goal.
When your goal is to focus on the process and stay in the present, then there are no mistakes and no judging. You are just learning and doing. You are executing the activity, observing the outcome, and adjusting yourself and your practice energy to produce the desired result.
When we focus our energy on the process of attaining something, and through patience and discipline we achieve it, we experience a joy that is just not present when something comes too quickly or easily.
- Keep yourself process-oriented.
- Stay in the present.
- Make the process the goal and use the overall goal as a rudder to steer your efforts.
- Be deliberate, have an intention about what you want to accomplish, and remain aware of that intention.
Most of the anxiety we experience in life comes from our feeling that there is an end point of perfection in everything that we involve ourselves with.
Any high-level performers in any sport or art form will tell you this: Their idea of perfection is always moving away from them; it is always based on their present experience and perspective.
We make a conscious decision that if we enjoy an activity, it is not work.
We know that this prejudgment of whether an activity is work or play is not universal, because one person’s hobby is another person’s drudgery.
Tell yourself you will work on staying present-moment and process oriented for just the first half hour. After that, you can hate it as much as usual.
You cannot change what you are unaware of.
Habits and practice are very interrelated. What we practice will become a habit.
Initially, the new way feels very strange and awkward because you are moving against the old habit. But in a short period of time, through deliberate repetition, the new way feels normal, and moving back to the old way would feel strange. Once I learned this, the knowledge took much of the stress out of learning something new.
Experiencing impatience is one of the first symptoms of not being in the present moment, not doing what you are doing, and not staying process-oriented.
We need to let go of the futile idea that happiness is out there somewhere, and embrace the infinite growth available to us as a treasure, not as something that we are impatient to overcome.
The real joy lies in creating and sustaining the stamina and patience needed to work for something over a period of time.
You are at your best when you are not operating under the influence of emotions and unconscious judgment making.
With deliberate and repeated effort, progress is inevitable.
All things of lasting and deep value require time and nurturing and come to us only through our own effort.
Carefully choose what you expose yourself to in the way of media, be it TV, music, or reading material. If it doesn’t enrich you, then you don’t need it.