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02 Feb 2017 13:47
One Thing at a Time; Really?
Some readers may question a cornerstone of these articles – that their conscious mind can only do one thing at a time. One woman wouldn’t believe it at first because she could knit and watch TV. Focusing on an engrossing TV program is a conscious activity while knitting is a habit programmed in the subconscious mind. So she is only doing one thing consciously – watching TV. Theoretically, someone could play the piano, tap each foot to a different beat, sing and watch TV because four of the five activities would be habits.
If you test this principle, and be honest with yourself, you will find that you cannot simultaneously concentrate on an absorbing TV program and talk to your spouse about a serious mix-up in your checking account. In fact, psychologists have proven you can only do one thing at a time consciously. If you are seriously talking on the phone and talking to your spouse about a mix-up in your checking account, you cannot concentrate on both at the same instant. (If you are wise, you will hang up and pay attention to your spouse.)
As smart as the human brain is, neuroscientists found that a surprisingly small area is set aside for conscious activity. To boot, when you attempt to do two conscious activities at once, that area in your brain shrinks. You flit back and forth between the two tasks usingless brainpower than you would doing just one task. Thus, you cannot do either task as well. Think about this; when you are absorbed in an important phone call and you really want to focus, you close your eyes to shut out distractions.
Not about pickleball, but this could save your life: When you drive a car and talk on your cell phone, you are carrying on a conversation with your conscious mind and driving with your subconscious mind. Because driving is a habit, it is possible to do both, but in an emergency, I can think of two reasons it’s not a good idea: 1) You may not become aware of danger as quickly as when driving consciously. In fact, you may not even see some hazards because you can be blind to unfamiliar objects; 2) Because conscious decisions have to be made before you act and since it takes a split second to make decisions, another second would be lost deciding what to say to the party on the phone and what to do with the cell phone in your hand.
Be safe – pull over to the curb to talk on your cell phone. If you are going to take risks, take them on the pickleball court.
Reprinted on Winning Pickleball from USAPA Newsletter. Original source: Harry Carpenter's 'Pickleball: The Mental Side'; see Resources side panel.