The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner – A Book Review in 500 Words

Quick summary of The Practicing Mind

According to the author of the book, he says that “life itself is nothing more than one long practice session.” And this is certainly true. Everything in life is all to do with practicing. Everything we do automatically now is nothing more than actions repeated over and over again. We are already masters at something.

To prove this we can look to the small and insignificant things which we do on a daily basis. Whether that’s tying our shoelaces, brushing our teeth, walking, getting up in the morning or making a coffee. We have become masters at the things.

Every single thing that we ever do is the result of practicing little actions over and over again. Even the things which we perceive as life-changing are the result of the same method – Small actions done daily, over time.

This book is about learning to fall in love with the process of mastering a skill or achieving a particular goal by being completely present with the practice.

My 3 favourite quotes from the book

“A paradox of life: The problem with patience and discipline is that developing each of them requires both of them” – Thomas M. Sterner ( I especially love this one)

“Habits are learned, choose them wisely” – Thomas M. Sterner

“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 of your life and promotes proper perspective on all of life’s difficulties” – Thomas M. Sterner

Actionable insights I took away from The Practicing Mind

Life is a journey not a destination. Achieving a goal comes from the process, it doesn’t come from fixating on the end result. Focusing on the practice itself is something which is extremely helpful when it comes to forming new skills or working towards a goal.

It takes the pressure off ourselves to achieve massive goals. When we become present to the actions we take on a daily basis instead of focusing so much on the end goal, we are in perfect harmony. We know where we want to go, we know what we want to accomplish. But we drop our attachment to that end goal and we are present, totally immersed in the practice and making progress simultaneously.

The four “S” words – Simplify, small, short and slow.

Simplify – Whatever I’m working on, I break it down into sections to make it simple. I do this with my writing. Whenever I write articles, I write sub-headings and this makes it far easier for me to write more smoothly. Instead of just thinking about what to write on a blank page,  create an outline and it will be far easier fill in the empty spaces.

Small – Of course it’s good to think and dream big, but taking small actions is the most sustainable way of making long lasting change. The biggest meal is still eaten one mouthful at a time. When we see the final product, we never really see the process of tiny actions repeated overtime. This is the heart of the finished product. Without this process, there of course would be no product.

Short – Does it stress you out when you think about the big picture and try to do too much of it at one time? It does for me. So what I have put into practice from this book is to just do something for a small amount of time. You might have a plan to clear out your room with all the junk, but focus on clearing out one bit at a time.

Slow – Taking our time with an activity allows us to be fully involved with our 5 senses. It brings us right into the present moment. Whatever it is that you’re doing, remind yourself that there is no rush and focus on the experience of the senses. The smells, sights, sounds, feelings, tastes etc etc.


Where I got the information from

  • The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner (My own physical copy of the book)