Three Observations About Thinking on Autopilot

Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash
Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash

When our minds switch on autopilot, there are three common situations where we tend to experience this phenomenon: in the shower, while driving on the same route daily, and when eating a meal by ourselves. In these moments, our thoughts drift away from the present task, and we enter a state of automatic thinking.

Shower Autopilot Thinking

During a shower, our minds often wander as we go through the familiar routine. We may find ourselves thinking about other things, such as ideas for an article or any other topic that captures our attention.

Sometimes, we even start mentally writing or outlining the article while in the shower. This uninterrupted time allows us to delve into our thoughts and explore new ideas. However, this can also lead to moments of forgetfulness, where we may question if we have completed certain tasks, like washing our hair.

Despite these lapses in memory, we continue with our train of thought, capturing our ideas before they slip away.

Driving Autopilot Thinking

When driving on the same route daily, our minds often shift into autopilot mode. We become so familiar with the journey that we can navigate it almost effortlessly. This provides an opportunity for our thoughts to wander and focus on other things, such as planning our next article. We may even speak our thoughts into a smartphone for later editing.

Although we make all the necessary adjustments and follow the routine without much conscious effort, we may reach our destination without any recollection of the trip itself. This is a clear example of thinking on autopilot while driving.

Eating Autopilot Thinking

Eating a meal by ourselves can also trigger autopilot thinking. As we consume our food, our minds may drift away to other matters, such as brainstorming ideas for an article. We may start by contemplating the title and then proceed to outline the article, even envisioning the accompanying picture. However, this mental absorption can cause us to lose awareness of the taste and flavors of the meal. We may finish eating without fully savoring the experience, as our thoughts remain focused on our creative process.

Three Moments That Lead To Autopilot Thinking

These three scenarios – showering, driving on a familiar route, and eating alone – often lead to moments of autopilot thinking. While this state allows us to delve into our thoughts and generate new ideas, it can also result in forgetfulness and a lack of presence in the current task. Being aware of these tendencies can help us strike a balance between productive thinking and being fully engaged in the present moment.

Does this happen to you? If so, how frequently?

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