We are often so focused on the future that we operate on autopilot and lose focus and attention to how we are feeling at this very present moment. It s not uncommon for many people to drive a known route and realise that parts of the journey are quite vague in our memory upon arriving. Operating on autopilot we lose attention to detail and operate far ahead of our current step.
The problem with this is that it affects the activity of our brain. In fact the more we operate on autopilot the less we stimulate and challenge our brain. A large factor in neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to continue to develop and adapt according to changing demands) is the activity of the brain and our attention levels.
While we often think about challenging our brain by doing crosswords and puzzles, however another way to challenge the brain and promote neuroplasticity is by overriding our natural autopilot instincts and increasing focus and attention. An easy way to achieve this is to force yourself to use your non dominant limb to perform a regular daily activity. The most common activity for most people that is simple to change is brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.
Try to find 3 daily activities that you can focus your attention on by changing the way they are performed. In addition focusing your senses to tune in to the present moment will improve your attention greatly. When you are driving, try to feel the grooves and stitching on your steering wheel as you hold it. Try to really feel those common objects that you use daily and explore the contours and textures.
While autopilot mode can help our brain to become more efficient, it can also lead to lack of mental stimulation that is necessary to keep our brains as active as possible.