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Are You Living or Just Existing: Life on Autopilot Mode

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."

These verses from 'Leisure' by William Davies, once cherished during our school days, bear more significance today than ever before.

As we look around, everyone is constantly busy in their daily lives. Sometimes, it feels like a mad race! We don't have time for ourselves or know how to ease this rat race! And we end up living in an auto-pilot mode. You might wonder what this is and how we end up in this autopilot mode. Well, there's indeed a scientific explanation behind it!

What do we mean by Life on Autopilot Mode?

Our brains are constantly at work, even when we are not doing any specific task. It's like a giant supercomputer which makes decisions on our behalf based on our daily habits. So, when our minds wander, the brain gets into auto-pilot mode! Now, there is nothing wrong with this. Rather, our brain is structured to work in this manner. "Various internet sources estimate an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day [in contrast, a child makes about 3,000]. This number may sound absurd, but in fact, we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University." [1]

We wake up, go to work or school, return home, eat, sleep, and repeat. We do our daily routine with little thought or awareness. Our daily routines have become so ingrained and automatic that we often fail to recognise we're trapped in this cycle of autopilot. To shed more light on this issue, Let's review some examples to help you check if you live in auto-pilot mode.

Are you living a Life on Autopilot Mode?

a man checking his mobile while walking

Do you unconsciously pick up your phone every few minutes, check updates or browse social media?

The sheer amount of information we have access to nowadays. Everything is designed smartly to capture our attention. So, one minute, we pick up our phone to quickly check a message, and before we know it, we end up scrolling for hours through different apps and websites. The problem is not just the loss of precious time, but it also overstimulates our brains, and at times, we find it difficult to switch off and be present 'IN' the moment.

Do you daydream or think of something else altogether while working?

There is nothing wrong with daydreaming; we all like to daydream occasionally. But what happens when we do it while working? When the tasks get monotonous, our minds often wander about. Mind it, we still complete the tasks! We are happy the job is done and has not caused stress or irritation. But this way of working is a temporary solution. It can lead to substandard quality of work as we are not actively making decisions or making choices but just going with the flow. And it doesn't end here at just completing tasks. Like a slow-spreading disease, this habit also starts impacting other areas of our lives.

Does this ever happen to you? You are with a group of friends. You are part of a conversation, waiting for your turn to speak. And you soon realise you were nodding your head but weren't actually listening to them. Though physically present, mentally, you are somewhere else. It means you are not actively engaging with the people around you.

The same goes for eating. Many of us have the habit of checking our mobile or watching T.V. while eating our food. Now! Don't give the excuse that it is the only time I get for myself after a long day of work. But are you even noticing what you are eating or appreciating the taste? Forget about relishing it with all your senses.

Most of us commute to work daily, driving or travelling long distances by train. Do you notice the landmarks around you or consciously decide your work route?

There are many such examples. We flip through T.V. channels without actually paying attention to what we are watching or walking past someone without even noticing them. Some days, we feel the day just passed by quickly and tend to forget the little things we did throughout the day! All these are classic examples of living in auto-pilot mode.

Another factor that you might not believe but leads to autopilot mode is instant gratification. Yes! Think of it; we want everything done instantly and quickly, just like our 2-minute instant noodles. Many of us constantly seek out shortcuts to get through the day. We want a quick fix to our problems. But this approach of relying on quick fixes or cutting corners leaves very little time for reflection. We move from one task to another with little thought or intention. And we end up working in autopilot mode!

But we all know that instant noodles are quick, easy & convenient to make but lack the critical nutrients a home-cooked meal can offer. Similarly, quick fixes and shortcuts might get us immediate results but often are unsustainable. Instead, they can lead to long-term problems if not looked into at the right time. It can result in a lack of fulfilment or a sense of disconnection from our true selves.


The auto-pilot mode was supposed to help and protect us through the day without overloading our brains. Unfortunately, most of us now operate in this as a default mode daily. We are making most daily decisions subconsciously. Subsequently, it is affecting us in all areas of our life. Sometimes, we go through days wherein we are entirely disconnected from our surroundings. When this happens over a long period, it causes complications. We start to lose focus and don't make any meaningful progress towards our goals in life. We often feel stressed & overwhelmed. And then many of us wonder why I am so dissatisfied in life, though I am doing everything right! The biggest disadvantage of living on autopilot is it leads to a lack of purpose in life. We lose the zeal for life and, instead, sail through it. But it doesn't have to be this way!

We need to break free from this life on autopilot mode and take time to pause and reflect. The poem 'Leisure's verses remind us of the importance of slowing down and being present 'IN' the moment. The poet says life can become meaningless and unfulfilling if we are constantly busy and rushing through our days on autopilot. It's true, isn't it?

The good news is that breaking free from autopilot is not only possible but there's also a key to unlocking a more mindful and fulfilling life. We need to learn to be present 'IN' the moment. It requires us to make some changes in our daily habits and routines. But it will help us rediscover the beauty and richness of our life. If you're intrigued to learn more and ready to embark on this transformative journey, don't miss our next blog post, "The Power of Presence: How to Live Mindfully and Break Free from Autopilot Mode." In it, we'll explore practical strategies for mindful living that can profoundly enrich our lives.


  1. 35,000 Decisions: The Great Choices of Strategic Leaders.


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Unknown member
Oct 10, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

True and a sad reality.


Rated 5 out of 5 stars.


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It's eye-opener

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