Thoughts on a Life Well Lived


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Who's Driving the Ship?

Who's driving the ship? Who's controlling the course of your life? Important questions that we don't always think about.

You are constantly changing and transforming. This happens independent of your awareness. Are you talking an active role in this process or simply standing by and letting it happen?

We hold great power over the course of our personal growth but few wield it for all its worth.

Humans possess a highly sophisticated auto-pilot function. Our bodies and brains are hardwired to learn our frequent routines so that our subconscious can over. Decision-making, conscious thought, and will-power are costly operations in terms of mental resources. In a constant effort to save brain power and energy, our bodies seek to relegate as much as possible to the subconscious.

This proves a wonderful process for some activities. I appreciate that I don't have to actively ensure that I brush all of my teeth evenly. I trust the automatic pattern I've developed to that task. I've never had a cavity, so its got a perfect record so far.

Our auto-pilot function does not discriminate. The perfect model of efficiency, no regular routine can escape its reach. If it can be automated, we'll automate it.

How many times have you arrived somewhere in your car to find that you have no recollection of the journey or your hand in it? A scary thought even though most of the time we arrive without incident. While impossible to measure, I'm interested to learn what percentage of auto accidents involve at least one driver who has fallen into that automated state. I'd wedgier its quite high.

What other daily patterns or decisions have you relegated to the subconscious? Have you relinquished control of some vitals decisions? Eating habits, post-work routines, sleeping habits?

So many of us have goals to improve our health, our relationships, and our life yet we rarely succeed in realizing them. This is hardly for lack knowledge. Many of us know the type of foods, patterns, and habits would improve our well-being yet we still struggle to make changes. We fail to address the problem at the source. Applying our conscious minds to patterns exist to our subconscious. 

Your auto-pilot function has overstepped its bounds. Strive to bring your awareness back every aspect of your daily life. Take back even the most mundane. It is not about strict control but simply having an awareness. No more polishing off that fast food meal before you even consciously realized you went through the drive-thru. No more plopping down in front of the TV or computer after work only to snap "awake" at 8pm and realize that you've squandered your opportunity to workout, cook a nice meal, or check anything off your to-do list.

I meet so many motivated individuals who have great success incorporating an intense workout routine and healthy eating habits into there life. So often they fall back to old ways of living. At some point, in a moment of weakness, exhaustion, or simple unawareness, their old habits re-surface. They had never switched off their auto-pilot, they were simply overriding it. They took their hands off the wheel believing they had righted the ship and altered their course. Auto-pilot senses the lack of an active captain, and re-assumes control. Many people find great success following this pattern. They stay on course as long as they can maintain the fight for control.

Switch off the auto-pilot. End the constant wrestle over the steering wheel. Break old patterns and insert a little window of conscious thought before every action.

Auto-pilot operates on a direct connection between stimuli and action. Arrive home - sit on the couch. Feel hungry - Lean Cuisine into the microwave. Feel bored - grab a snack. Develop a mindfulness practice to bring awareness into your actions.

A mindfulness practice aims to sever this connection, to insert a short period of conscious thought in between stimuli and action. An opportunity to process the stimuli and consciously decide the best course of action.

I love to see people, friends, and clients embark on personal wellness journeys. Typically we aim our focus on creating new nutritional and fitness habits, as well we should. Remember though to attack these issues at the source. Acknowledge your automated patterns and shut them off. Don't try to wrestle back control from the auto-pilot. Don't build a new structure on an unstable foundation.

Think about the type of actions you take without a conscious decision. Be honest with yourself about where you have developed unhealthy patterns. 

Wipe the slate clean and build anew.

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