Brain Health and Otherwise
A friend of mine inspired me to quit checking my phone while driving. By “driving” I mean looking at my phone at any point between turning the key in the ignition and turning off the engine. Before, I never texted while driving or checked emails or anything else. I did it at stoplights. I wasn’t driving, right? But a few times I misinterpreted what the cars around me at the stoplight were doing. I braked or accelerated when I should have been doing the opposite. Of course, I caught myself.
Then my friend posted a piece about her son being hit by a car. The child’s doctor said the family was lucky the driver was paying attention. Too often the driver’s attention level, the doctor said, made the difference between a very good outcome and a very bad one. Her family had a very good outcome.
My vow wasn’t easy to keep. I’d find my gaze drifting to my phone lying on the passenger seat. What I’ve had to do is put the phone out of sight. Zip it in my backpack. Tuck it in my pocketbook and snap the closure. Who knows, after I’ve done this for a while, maybe I will have broken a habit and it won’t be so tempting. In the meantime, ya do what ya gotta do.
Here’s another change I’ve made. I’m trying to quit multi-tasking. No more surfing the web while watching TV. Why not? I heard an NPR piece on your brain. You know what they said was the quickest way to weaken the brain? Multi-tasking.
To me, this is counterintuitive. The contrary seems true—look how strong my brain is! It can do lots of things at once! But the piece said multi-tasking weakens the neural connections on which a nimble brain depends. Deep concentration, on the other hand, strengthens the brain.
So I’m trying to break the habit of multi-tasking. Also to quit scanning an article, reading the first sentence of each paragraph to see if it might contain whatever attracted me to the article in the first place, and ignoring the rest.
This is all is quite hard. So much of TV doesn’t deserve your entire attention. So many articles go on and on and on. It’s boring driving thirty minutes out East and never checking my phone.
Hopefully it will be worth it.