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  • Christian Armbruester

Living on Autopilot

If there is one statistic that I can’t get out of my head, it is that as much as 99% of human action is run by the subconscious. This really is an incredibly high figure. Looking at our daily routine, clearly most of what we do is virtually automatic. I notice it when I go to work in the morning and as I pass through the ticket barrier, wait for the train and then step out at my destination stop: it is as if 20 minutes of my life have just flown by without me even taking notice of it.

I suppose we also train our mind to block things out that are routine and do not require us to concentrate, such as assessing whether to choose one seat over another. I tend to shut down the minute I get to the airport and settle into my fate as a piece of cattle as I am herded through passport controls, security checks, boarding procedure and finally squeezing into a seat meant for someone the size of a hobbit, whilst fighting with my neighbour over the highly prized inch of space on the middle arm rest.

But I digress, and the real question is, do we really want to live our entire lives in the subconscious? If it really only comes down to this 1% of active decision making, then why bother at all and just let autopilot take over completely? It certainly sounds appealing, not worrying about the consequences of our actions, not taking accountability for any wrong we may do and letting others worry about figuring things out. After all, decisions are difficult to make and may explain why we would choose to follow someone else’s lead, even when we don’t entirely agree with the direction of travel.

Then again, living on autopilot does kind of take away the whole point of our existence. After all, what point is there to life if we can’t do the things we want, take irrational decisions, or actively endeavour to make our dreams come true? They say we have to live for the moment and happiness is a state of mind, well then maybe we should also work on squeezing a bit more (conscious) juice out of our brain than a measly 1%.


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