Thomas Sterner

The Practicing Mind – Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life   2006

Fully Engaged – Using the Practicing Mind in Daily Life    2016

Sterner’s Major Message

Sterner’s books offer practical advice on how to set goals and how to practice to build up the necessary skills to achieve those goals. Sterner has designed a system titled The Practicing Mind” which details how. One of his major goals is to train you to approach life stress-free. If you are worried about past mistakes, or the future tasks required to meet your goals, you are not present and will be constantly stressed.

Sterner’s message is to be joyful. Learn to use your Practicing Mind for success and happiness. Stay focused and present.

Self-discipline, focus, patience, and self-awareness are interwoven threads in the fabric of both true inner peace and contentment in life. Together, living in the present moment and being process-oriented is the path that leads us to these all-important virtues. This magical path is there for everyone.

Think about how everything we learn and master in life, from walking and tying our shoes to saving money and raising a child, is accomplished through a form of practice, something we repeat over and over again. We are not aware of the process as such, but that is what good practice manifests itself when done properly. It carries no stress-laden anticipation of “when is the goal going to be reached?” When we practice anything properly, the fact that we are engaging in a difficult learning process not only disappears but more importantly it dissolves into a period of inner calming that gives us a rest from the tension and anxiety that our “get it done yesterday” world pushes on us every day. It is important to recognize and be in control of the process and to learn to enjoy that part of life’s activity.

If you are not in control of your thoughts, then you are not in control of yourself.

In learning to play golf, I found that, when given my present moment attention, the practice sessions were very calming, not bothersome. I found that immersing myself in the process of practicing would shut off all the tensions of the day and all the thoughts of what had to get done “tomorrow.” It would keep my mind in the present, out of the past or the future. I would let go of any expectations of how long it would take me to acquire a good gold swing because I was enjoying what I was doing “right now,” learning a good golf swing.  

Virtually everything discussed in this book requires that you develop a strong connection to the observer within you. We do this through only one exercise. That exercise is meditation. The practice of meditation teaches us to be an observer of and not a participant in our thoughts. Our thinking slows down and is much more purposeful. Our clarity increases and our anxiety diminishes considerably.

The key is to become immersed in what I call “Present Moment Functioning,”

or PMF. Grow your connection to the observer in you. Do this by what I’m calling “thought awareness training.” Without thought awareness you can’t accomplish any real personal growth, and you have no authentic power.

A simple exercise will open up a whole new world for you. Set a timer for two minutes. Sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes, and stop thinking. After the timer goes off, open your eyes and take note of your experience. Almost everyone’s experience is the same. People couldn’t quiet their mind. Random thoughts kept popping up out of nowhere. They begin to realize that how they are feeling in any moment of the day has quite a lot to do with what their mind is thinking. Thought is the vehicle for stress, happiness, sadness, anger, and everything else we perceive as an experience. When we develop thought awareness, we give ourselves the gift of freedom of choice, of being a conscious thought maker.

Your productivity begins to increase drastically because all your energy is gong into whatever you are doing right now, from washing the dishes to supporting a loved one through a difficult situation.

The Four “S” Words

The four “S” words are Simplify, Small, Short, and Slow.

Simplify. When you work at a project, simplify it by breaking it down into sections. Don’t set goals that are too far beyond your reach. Setting unrealistic goals creates frustration and invites failure.

Small. Break the overall goal down into small sections that can be achieved with a comfortable amount of concentration.

Short. “I’m going to work on cleaning up my garage for forty-five minutes a day over the next few days until it is completed.” At the end of forty-five minutes, you feel in control and satisfied.

Slowness. Slow means that you work at a pace that allows you to pay attention to what you are doing. The paradox of slowness is that you will find you accomplish the task more quickly with less effort because you are not wasting energy.

***The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in SamBeard.Org belong solely to Sam Beard and not necessarily to the GIFT Global organization or any organization, committee or group or individual. The stories presented on this site have been previously published in the GIFT Global magazine with the subject’s approval.