For better or worse most of us have to learn new things all the time. Some of us think of that continual process as a challenge that makes life more interesting. Some people would rather not learn new things because it takes them out of their comfort zone. When we are in the learning curve it can be frustrating. Though once most people get through the initial anxiety and the new knowledge or skills begin to fall into place we tend to get in a nice comfort zone with the mastery of our new skills. Once learned the concentration that was required at the beginning may no longer be required, but we still need to think a little bit. If you learn a new data base you still have to concentrate on the fields and what you enter – qualitative concentration that never really becomes part of that comfort zone. Even in sports one might become very good relatively quickly, but as baseball players and golfers will tell you, it is also easy to forget the basics and pick up some bad habits. The Myth of ‘Just Do It’
That experts increase their focus on the task at hand in order to cope with pressure is suggested by studies, like those carried out by the University of Hull sports and exercise psychologist Adam Nicholls, which ask professional or elite athletes to keep a diary of stressors that occur and coping strategies that they employ during games. Though small scale, these studies do indicate that a common method of dealing with stress involves redoubling both effort and attention. As Nicholls told me, when I asked him about it, “increasing effort was an effective strategy and really helped the players.”
Winter Landscape with Skaters, c1608 by Hendrick Avercamp. Oil on canvas.
Three of my favorite movies about conmen, Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon (1973), The Grifters (1990) and before he became a conservative asshat, David Mamet’s House of Games (1987). As clever as these conmen and women are, they have nothing on conservative Republicans, The Sword Drops on Food Stamps (It’s official: Congress will slash food stamp funding in the midst of a deep economic recession, when more people rely on food stamps than ever before). And Congress Turns Its Back on Rural America (Due to sequester cuts, SEK-CAP decided in May that it could no longer afford to operate the Head Start Center in Neodesha). The conservative gifters have managed to convince millions of Americans and much of the media that the gravest problems facing America is basic safety net programs, not the trillions of dollars corporations redistribute from the economy to the wealthiest people in history. Who also do the least work in proportion to that wealth. The con itself is not just clever. The passionate degree with which conservatives are convinced that if we pull away the safety net these people will pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Those would be the bootstraps that an executive who makes millions a year has outsourced to a factory in Asia where the workers are making 75 cents an hour.