Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Old(er) dog, new tricks

Habits are a blocker to learning; the mindlessness of habit reduces conscious engagement with your surroundings, so you miss opportunities to be surprised and challenged, and to be truly “alive”.

This I learned from Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life which is a great read for a winter's weekend. (By contrast, Proust's great work kept me occupied for 3 years, one volume for each winter and summer holiday...)

How to apply this wisdom? Well I've decided to leave the company where I've been working contentedly for seven years because it's become a comfortable habit for me. In my new job I'll be challenged and will feel a bit insecure - I expect to learn a lot!

And in a move of greater significance for the world and for public safety, I'm also trying to break a habit that I've formed in a half-century of car travel, by adopting a better way of opening car doors.

It's called the 'Dutch reach' and I learned about it in a letter to The Guardian
The Netherlands has found a solution to the problem of car doors and cyclists (Transport secretary knocks man off his bike, 16 December). Dutch motorists are trained to open the car door with their opposite hand. This forces the body to swivel, and your eyes to look backward, thus spotting a passing cyclist. Drivers must demonstrate this to pass the driving test. It is referred to sometimes as the “Dutch reach”. In the Netherlands it is simply called how you open your car door. 
Henry Stewart
It's a technique to avoid this:


I've been doing it for a week and I have to stop and remind myself every time I get out of the car. I've asked my kids to police me, which of course they're only too happy to do! Opening the car door is now a learning experience for me - and the world is a tiny bit safer for cyclists.