The Practicing Mind – Thomas M. Sterner
All of life is practice in one form or another. Actively practicing something is very different from passively learning it. You will never reach a level of performance that feels complete, so learn to love the art of practicing your skill.
We miss the point that the ability to develop any skill as swiftly as possible, with the least amount of effort, and even to experience inner peace and joy in the process, is in fact a skill itself, and one that requires constant practice to become an effortless part of who we are.
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When we subtly shift toward both focusing on and finding joy in the process of achieving instead of having the goal, we have gained a new skill. And once mastered, it is magical and incredibly empowering.
The Normal, Accidental Mind
If you are not in control of your thoughts, then you are not in control of yourself. Without self-control, you have no real power, regardless of whatever else you accomplish.
If you are not aware of the thoughts that you have in each moment, then you are like a rider with no reins, with no control over where you are going. You cannot control what you are not aware of. Awareness must come first
The Practising Mind
The practicing mind is quiet. It lives in the present and has laser-like, pinpoint focus and accuracy. It obeys our precise directions, and all our energy moves through it.
Because of this, we are calm and completely free of anxiety. We are where we should be at that moment, doing what we should be doing, and completely aware of what we are experiencing. There is no wasted motion, physically or mentally.
The Journey, Not The Destination
We have a very unhealthy habit of making the product—our intended result—the goal instead of the process of reaching that goal.
When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal. The words deliberate and intention are key here because they define the difference between actively practicing something and passively learning it (similar to deliberate practice; see Peak).
The Process Matters, Not The Goal
When you focus on the process, the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease.
When you focus on the product or goal, you immediately begin to fight yourself and experience boredom, restlessness, frustration, and impatience with the process.