The Practicing Mind Summary – April 2022

Author: Thomas M. Sterner

Short Summary
The Practicing Mind (2006) provides a new approach to doing better work and enjoying the journey, which is more important than ever in the modern world. The practice, as explained in the book The Practicing Mind, is the best way of making our dreams, aspirations, and goals a reality. The practice doesn’t say anything about genius or being a whiz kid. It implies working with diligence and devotion towards our goals even if we fail or face difficulties, the practice makes all such hindrances insignificant because we learn from them.
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

The practicing mind is about how we can deal with our anxiety mindfully. It provides us with a way to become aware of what we are doing and thinking when we are experiencing anxiety. This book will show you how to prevent your mind from becoming distracted by incorporating awareness into your thinking.

It gives us a glimpse into the way the mind works. How it canon one thing at a time and how anxiety can disrupt that ability. The world around us is ever-changing. Our lives are chaotic and unpredictable, yet these things should not be an excuse for us to be constantly anxious and distracted.

Where does anxiety come from? What causes a person to have performance anxiety? Is it real? And can we get over it? These are the questions that this summary attempts to answer about the underlying emotion that performance anxiety stems from.

The book explains that one has to systematically practice to achieve mastery over his/her craft (music, art, language, sports, etc.) and this process has similarities in every field of endeavor. It focuses on the effectiveness of the practice and challenges people to develop habits of consistency and thoughtfulness.

The Practicing Mind Key Points

Don’t think about the end goal every single time you work

Doing your most important work is a game of short-term thinking. If you’re aspiring to a long-term career in writing and storytelling, then, yes, you should have a long-term goal or two. But at any given point in time, you should be focused on the next 20-40 minutes of work ahead of you. That’s because your end goal every morning has to be to ship, right? Ship something – anything! – out the door.

The more you drop the ball thinking about what’s down the road, the more likely you are to trip up. Your most important concern should be the next thing that’s due, not what your boss thinks of you or what could happen if you don’t deliver it in time. The end goal is now – the next 40 minutes.

Reaching the end goal every single time you work is a fallacy, and it’s a dangerous one at that. You see, it creates this intense pressure for you to measure your every action against the yardstick of whether it’s going to take you closer to or further from your final destination.

Let’s say you’re trying to write a book. You’ve got a deadline to meet, a stack of papers you’re working off, and a whole host of ids you want to get across. For some, that’s the hardest part and the time between getting that first line down and the moment you put your head on the pillow is one of immense stress and anxiety.

We expect a lot from ourselves that can’t be reached

In the professional world, it means that no matter how much you try to make yourself better at your job, you will never be satisfied until someone else does not do it better than you. In sports, no matter how disciplined you are, you will always feel frustrated about yourself until someone else does not win a medal over you.

To overcome this problem of never feeling satisfied with anything we do, we have to first understand that the root cause is actually in ourselves. This is because we raise our expectations of ourselves too much so that no matter what we achieve, we are never satisfied.

Steps to fixing this problem:

  1. Understand that you can’t control other people’s performance. Take your focus off them and put your effort on yourself and your best performance.
  2. Focus on the process of what you do instead of focusing on the outcome. You need to learn how to accept the outcomes without being disappointed in them as long as you try your best.
  3.  Avoid comparing yourself with others. There is always someone who is walking a little faster than you or someone who will catch up with you and pass you. You have to learn how to be happy with where you are right now and just focus on yourself.

We expect a lot from ourselves, we aim to improve, learn, be more flexible, and even more trusting. To be better, we put ourselves to the test, we raise our expectations of ourselves. And that’s where it starts. Not in the lack of self-confidence but in having too high of expectations that can’t be reached.

Use the Do, Observe, Correct technique when you are stuck somewhere

Maybe you’re doing something that has you stressed out, maybe you’re tired and a little overwhelmed, or maybe you’re just bored. In any case, when you feel this way, it can often be hard to stay focused on a task even when you know that if you just stuck with it, you would probably have a lot of fun. In these moments, you can use the Do, Observe, Correct technique.

Do – You might say do whatever it takes to get your emotions under control, but that might not be practical or even possible. Instead, just take a step back and focus on your breathing for a minute or two. Observe – Now that your emotions are less intense, look at what exactly is making you lose focus. Is it boredom? Is it stress? If so, acknowledge it. Then take another deep breath and remind yourself that this feeling will pass – all feelings do pass in time if you let them. Correct – Finally, just get back to work and do whatever it takes to get back into the moment.

For example: Take a break and play a game until your focus returns. As long as you keep working and don’t try to force yourself to focus when your emotional state isn’t right for it, in time your mood will change and you will be able to focus again.

The Practicing Mind Quotes

“The feeling “I’ll be happy when X happens” will never bring you anything but discontentment.” Thomas M. Sterner

“Habits and practice are very interrelated. What we practice will become a habit.” Thomas M. Sterner

The Practicing Mind Review

This book is not like other self-help books, it will give you some productive advice that you can use in daily life. The Practicing Mind focuses on all the areas of life, not just one area. It is a great book to read. Highly recommended.

To whom I would recommend The Practicing Mind summary?

  • Anyone who is frustrated with all the things happening in his life.
  • Anyone who thinks he does a lot of hard work but does not get the desired results.
  • Who raises their expectations too high.

Link: https://amzn.to/3Q1l0DY