I recently heard the expression, “Practice makes permanent.”  It is a version of “Practice makes perfect,” but changes the expectation of finally arriving at perfection to the expectation of achieving mastery.  Achieving perfection is daunting to many of us, but mastery connotes the satisfaction of doing something well that was once hard but has become easy, or easier.

Achieving total mastery may take 10 years or 10,000 hours, but a true satisfaction may come as soon as we consistently do even one small step often enough to make it seem “natural.”  Every time I walk by the piano and work on one tiny phrase, I feel the joy of experiencing it as “easy” when I begin the next phrase.  It may take considerable time to get the whole piece together, but the little practices are more doable than hours spent on attempting the whole at once.

Practicing behaviors that we wish to develop works in much the same way.   For one who is struggling with anger management, even the small step of learning to do a breathing maneuver before blowing up can eventually make controlling “temper” seem doable.  For a person who struggles with sadness and dark moods, consistently taking even just a short walk outdoors each day, can begin the slender thread of feeling lighter.  Saying just one sincere compliment each day to the other in a contentious relationship can begin to change the direction of resentment.

Practicing counts.  We realize it when what once seemed difficult has become easier and when what once seemed impossible becomes a reality.