The Practicing Mind Summary


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Originally published at: https://blog.12min.com/the-practicing-mind-summary/

Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life — Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process


MicroSummary: Most of us have felt anxious at some point in our lives. Whether in college, at work, in the gym, or in some leisure activity. These anxieties come into our minds and make it hard to do anything. Where do they come from? How can we attack them? We constantly set very difficult goals, believing that we can achieve them. And this book talks about exactly that!

"The Practicing Mind Summary"

Never Satisfied And Upping Expectations

Sometimes it seems that no matter how much practice you have, someone always works out better than you. This can be very frustrating and can change our attitude in different aspects of our lives. But why are we frustrated by it?

If there is a failure that all human beings have in common, it is the search for ideas that are simply not attainable.

We all have an image in our minds of what we believe to be a perfect life, making our real lives seem inadequate by comparison.

Some of us want a better job, some want to have more friends, and some want to change their appearance.

You probably will not be surprised to hear that these high expectations are fueled by the media and marketing.

Think of all the perfect, prosperous people in magazines and commercials. Almost all the advertised products are created to convince us that our lives will not be so good if we do not get these products.

Of course, high expectations are not all bad. You can use the images of a better life to get inspired and work hard to achieve good results.

Unfortunately, we tend to use them only as objects of comparison.

We compare our performance with that of our colleagues at work. And when we look at the mirror, we compare our appearance to that of the people we see on the streets.

Also, there is another problem with that. Instead of working toward a goal and being satisfied to achieve it, we raise our expectations even more. It means that our ideals move away from us and that we are constantly striving to reach goals that we do not value after reaching them.

In short, the feeling that we will never be good enough is a source of constant anxiety for all of us. But what if you do not want to feel anxious all the time? Well, then it’s time to make some changes.

Think About Your Progress To Eliminate Anxiety

Why, when an important deadline is approaching, do we seem to be able to procrastinate even more? Feeling that your focus disappears when you know you have serious work to do can be very stressful.

That is common because we are consumed with the thought of the end of our goal, which seems to be farther and farther, no matter how hard you work.

And that makes you feel discouraged and harms your productivity. Instead of focusing on the future consequences, you need to focus on the now to do your best.

You can do this with a simple change of perspective. Thinking about your goal can fill you with fear and anxiety, which will distract you from your task.

But if you keep your thoughts in the present moment, your anxiety will drop significantly. Put your ultimate goal aside for a moment, focus on your progress and you will feel much more motivated.

That does not mean that you should not focus on your goals.

Goals are vital, but they are not useful when used as an indicator of progress. Again, this can be very discouraging. Your goals should be used as a guide to get you in the right direction.

But for you to be guided, you also need to ensure that you can respond in a sensitive way to problems.

Rather than letting your emotions control your reactions, you need to take a step back and objectively evaluate what is working and what is not working at that moment.

Once you have done this, you can adjust your next attitudes.

Imagine yourself on a bowling alley: you do not strike in the first move. What will your reaction be like?

Instead of thinking “now the best I can do is reach nine points out of ten,” evaluate your attitudes and try to improve from the mistakes you made in the first round.

Simply Your Tasks And Spend A Time On Them

If your high expectations are making you unhappy and unproductive, should you diminish them? In fact, you are free to have ambitious goals as long as you can break them down into small goals. That makes any great goal achievable.

Anyone who has worked on large long-term projects knows how frustrating it is to work hard while the goal seems far from accomplished.

To avoid this, set small goals that take you on a journey to achieve the great goal. Keep these tasks simple, and you will find that you can accomplish them with ease.

Cleaning your garage, for example, is a big task that most people avoid. But if you think your job now is to just clean the shelves in an area, you have created an easy goal, and you can get started.

If you allow yourself to feel satisfied after completing your first small task, then try to create the next one.

Even these simple tasks do not have to be done at once. If you think something will take longer, set a time limit for a certain amount of work and do this task in one day.

Cleaning the garage racks may take longer than you thought, so break the task into smaller pieces.

For example, 45 minutes a day. Not only will you have easier tasks, but you’ll also be able to work to reach your ultimate goal every day!

You may be tempted to work faster to complete your tasks in less time. But sometimes it may be best to avoid such an attitude.

While it may seem best to perform nasty tasks as quickly as possible, this can be counterintuitive.

Working at a slower pace allows you to focus on the present rather than rushing to start working on other things.

And speeding up work generates stress, and stress will make you less efficient. So delay as much as you need and allow yourself to complete your tasks carefully and efficiently.

When Positivity Decreases, "Do, Observe and Correct"

We know why we procrastinate when we are under pressure. But do we know how to avoid this?

The author has developed a three-step technique to help you stay calm and focused on any situation. It is called ‘doing, observing, correcting’ and the important thing here is to learn to monitor and respond to your behavior.

Let’s say you are studying for a great test and you realize that worrying about your results makes it hard to study: apply the technique! You have already covered the “do” step by observing that you are straying from your task.

Now it’s time to take a step back and observe the behavior you would like to change. In that case, your concern.

To observe effectively, try not to get too emotionally involved or judge yourself by your reactions. Instead, look for your attitudes as a distant viewer.

It will allow you to see how your emotions make the situation even worse than it is, and that by mastering them, you will be able to solve your problems more efficiently. Finally, it is up to you to correct the situation by getting rid of negative feelings and frightening emotions as much as you can.

Initially, it may seem a bit difficult to follow the technique when you are in the midst of a crisis.

But the more practice you have, the better you can develop your observer skills. And soon you will be able to apply the technique automatically in any situation.

That will help you keep your mind on the present and accomplish the tasks you need for your larger goals.

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“The Practicing Mind” Quotes

[bctt tweet="Progress is a natural result of staying focused on the process of doing anything." username="get12min"]

[bctt tweet=“Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions. When the proper mechanics of practice are understood, the task of learning something new becomes a stress-free experience of joy and calmness, a process which settles all areas in your life and promotes proper perspective on all of life’s difficulties.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“We think too many thoughts at once, most of them the same thoughts we had yesterday and the day before. We are impatient with life, and anxious.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“Rushing had become so much of a habit that I was amazed at the amount of concentration it took to work slowly on purpose.” username=“get12min”]

Final Notes:

If you need to finish some task or master some skill, do not think about the goal, this will only distract you.

Work on smaller tasks for a limited amount of time and do not think about anything else during this time.

If you can focus completely on what you’re doing, you’ll be able to finish even the most unpleasant tasks easily.