Today I played tennis, and we split sets: 4-6 and 6-0. I was much better in the second set. One crutch I fell back on was to just use my old reliable toss and flat serve. I basically chickened out attempting some new methods until I master them. And I was much much better.

Isn’t this what most people do—the old familiar patterns that are reliable and work pretty well instead of experimenting and failing at first with the newer, possibly better, ways. Why are we so tentative? Why are we so lazy or hesitant? I guess if the old approaches work reasonably well, it takes too much effort to gain proficiency with a different system or pattern or swing or configuration.

If you are right handed and are forced through an accident or stroke to use only your left hand, don’t you believe you could do it? I do. But you don’t see me practicing to be a lefty when my right hand works just fine. All it takes is practice. But why bother when you can accomplish most tasks with your right hand or flat serve or open-palm serve toss?

Why learn to drive a stick shift if you have an automatic transmission car? No reason to go to all that trouble for the remote chance that you have to take someone to the hospital and there is only a friend’s stick shift available.

No need to learn a language or how to use a computer or play a new sport or make new friends or cook new foods or even order different foods in a restaurant. We all like those old familiar ways that demand the least of us and preserve as much as energy and effort as possible.

Yet life is constantly changing and forcing new problem-solving solutions upon us. We constantly have to adapt to being fired, losing business, reacting to verbal attacks or younger, more energetic upstarts seeking our job, our position or our prestige. You would almost think it is ideal to constantly take on new challenges that keep the brain in tone just like it pays to keep our limb muscles toned and the muscle memory trained sufficiently to accomplish new requirements in sports.

But it is so easy not to bother. What do you think?