Modern life has all the trappings of a boring existence.
We’re expected to maintain a nine-to-five job to support ourselves financially, acquire a static place of residence to rest and house our things, and generally travel to the same places each and every day.
So our life plays out, one practically autonomous day after another. Who needs self-driving cars when we already space out for the entire trip home from work and still get there in one piece?
The only problem is, in that kind of autopilot mode of living, we lose something very special and precious — the joy of living.
Very often, human beings are living like on autopilot, reacting automatically with what happens. What interests me about the life of an explorer is you are in the unknown; you are out of your habits.
– Bertrand Piccard
But the truth is, live like that for long and you start regretting your choices. That’s because it takes away all the excitement and joy from living.
So, are you guilty of this? How would you know? That’s the difficult part about the whole thing — it’s hard to tell you’re on autopilot in the first place. Fortunately, there are three distinct signs that are pretty easy to notice (and fix) with a little work.
1. You often find yourself spacing out while performing tasks
This might be the biggest red flag, assuming it happens often.
When you’re stuck living your life primarily on autopilot, you may regularly find yourself spacing out while performing daily activities. This is the worst, as it’s a sign you’ve grown so accustomed to your daily schedule that you’ve practically begun falling asleep while going about your day.
Once this happens, you’ve become quite literally the walking dead.
2. You’re bored
Do you rarely go out to try new or different things? Do you find yourself falling asleep easily during slow periods of the day and lacking the energy to try new pursuits? These are also signs you’re living your life on autopilot.
If you’ve had the same daily schedule day-in and day-out for some time, you can become really, really bored with everything. This is a dangerous trap to fall into because once you lose the motivation to really live and take risks, it becomes habitual.
3. You’re very, very comfortable
With repetition comes comfort, and nothing breeds comfort more than a nice, uneventful life (see how each point is building on one another?). If you’re too comfortable and don’t tend to experience anything that challenges you or keeps you on your toes, you’ll fall into a form of autopilot that is extremely difficult to get out of.
But the worst part of it all is that this state of extreme comfort tends to lead us to give up on our dreams. That’s because we’re built to avoid pain, and stepping outside of our comfort zone can be uncomfortable. Think of your comfort zone as a sort of force field that zaps you when you step outside of it.
To do something great with your life, you have to be willing to take that discomfort to get through to the other side. However, most of us turn away at the slightest feeling of discomfort and end up dying with the regret that we didn’t live up to our potential.
How to stop living on autopilot
Clearly, living on autopilot is dangerous and detrimental to our life as a whole.
By living in such a way, you risk falling into a state of monotonous comfort that leads you to lose the joy of living and quit on your dreams and goals.
So then, how do you stop? Fortunately, there are several ways you can “jolt” yourself back to life and begin living more fully:
- Start planning regular adventures: This is an easy one. When was the last time you tried something new? I’m not referring to a new restaurant or TV show, I mean taking a trip, trying a new sport other activity, or interacting with others in a new and interesting way. It can’t be something small, but it has to be an adventure that triggers your senses and imagination.
- Change your routine: On the flip side, switching up your regular routine in one or more ways is much easier and simpler to do (although less exciting and inspiring). One example is taking a different commute, turning left instead of right, using a more scenic route, or a different vehicle altogether (biking, for instance, if that’s an option).
- Practice mindfulness meditation: This is another simple but highly effective practice, perhaps the easiest because it only involves a few basic steps to practice on a daily basis.
You’re not getting any younger and life isn’t going to wait, so get out there and wake up to each beautiful moment and see life for what it can be: an amazing and unpredictable adventure.