It's like driving a car. Right now we are "teaching" our 17-year old daughter how to drive a stick. She hates it (not being a naturally good driver notwithstanding) because she has to "think all the time about what to do".
Yeah, if you're behind the wheel of 3000 lbs of automobile, that's kinda important. A manual tranny can distract a new driver from other issues, but it can also inculcate the essential lesson: You are in command of this vehicle; pay attention!
I now own my first automatic car, but early habits of listening to engine RPMs, monitoring the instruments, relentlessly checking the mirrors, head-checking before lane changes, and anticipating the stupidity of others were driven into me in manual-shift cars using a big hammer. And they stuck. To the detriment of my molars, they stuck: every time I hafta drive in Colorado, my teeth hurt for days after.
I'll never be a relaxed sailor, either. Mebbe cuz I swim badly, and there's all that water right nearby. But mostly because screwups can happen so fast -- if you aren't monitoring all systems at all times, the situation can turn unrecoverable in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
One habit I have cultivated is dividing my attention. It's like having a systems monitor running in a background Window(tm) of your computer. Split off some portion of the brain to keep up with essential systems; the rest is free to watch YouTube videos, or similar. Most of your brain is thinking, "Hey, what a gorgeous day, this is a great song!, I wonder what bird that is?"; 10% of your brain is thinking, "Hmmm, wind is starting to swing around, could be rocks off that point, does that idiot speedboat even see me?"
That habit probably amounts to a brain pathology, but it made me a pretty safe climbing partner and has me still counting decimally in the woodshop.