We live in a highly complex world but with a very limited amount of focus. This limits the amount of conscious decisions we make. The rest of our life runs in autopilot: we decide not to decide. This, as it turns out, is our default choice. It’s why states that require you to opt-in for organ donation have significantly lower participation than states where you opt-out. How many of us want to actively decide on where our organs go after we die?
As discussed in the commencement speech I linked to in my last entry, we can choose what we think about. Everyday thousands of things scream for our attention. By default, we think about the loudest of those things and the rest are decided on without thought. We simply use our autopilot.
Living life without challenging the autopilot will result in moments of surprise. Drown by the urgent, we occasionally gasp wondering how we got here. Unfortunately, the autopilot doesn’t sound alarms for significant things: autopilot will happily crash into a mountain it doesn’t know is there.
It’s easy to let our autopilot make the hard decisions and instead focus on the things that seem more fun at the moment. However, our health, relationships, and life are far more impacted by our default actions day-in and day-out, than they are by a brief decision to do something different once. Reflecting on our own autopilot can teach us ways to specifically improve it, and over the years, this can make all the difference.
Have you considered whether your autopilot is making the right choices?