Scarcity and Cognitive Bandwidth
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Really found intriguing this article from today's Globe on brain science and scarcity -- it has so many implications.
The research suggests that people experiencing scarcity (lack of money, lack of time, even lack of calories when trying to lose weight) will experience mental focus. But at a big price. The necessity of that mental focus distracts us from making good decisions in other areas of our lives. Because we only have so much "bandwidth". It's the same recognition that talking on the phone even hands-free in the car results in way more car accidents, since the distraction is comparable to driving when impaired. Texting?? Even more so.
This may not be a hot news flash: we "know" this already, right? That's why will power, actual confrontational resistance to temptation which is "present" (those potato chips) , gets exhausted. That's why it's better for me to avoid temptation (I don't buy potato chips). But it's the size of the scarcity effect on bandwidth that's surprising. When intense focus is required . . . we can do what needs to be done, and maybe even do it well. But we can't do much more.
Certainly this past week with its heavy job demands meant that there literally was no time for the gym. Got in a few walks but no substitute, really (heading to the gym right now . . . and looking forward to it). Did manage to keep within my calorie ranges . . . but didn't do much else this week beyond work and nutrition tracking! Sigh. That's OK. The body is forgiving, and I'm forgiving myself too of course. I know from past experience that I will get back to the exercise I need when work demands recede a bit: I always do. And I will.
Laundry done, soup made too: another R2R compromise, vegan black bean chili using up the pantry supplies of brown rice and black beans, neither of which are recommended in a pure "primarian" approach, but with a different balance: way more veggies (garlic, carrot, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, a bit of corn) and way less beans/rice. Lots of spice!! I'll pick up some fresh cilantro with my groceries . . . serve with a dollop of fat free Greek yogourt maybe??? Smells terrific!!