By Dr. Damian Goldvarg

We live our lives embracing habits without often asking why we do what we do. We can even make decisions without thinking much about other possibilities as we build on what we know and believe is the best for us or our loved ones.  These decisions might be done “mechanically” or in “autopilot” which means we may have not spent time reflecting on why we do what we do. It is as if the decisions were already made for us.

We eat what we eat, we read what we read, watch television programs that attract our attention, we exercise or play sports without asking ourselves many times why we do these activities. Many of those habits are a result of our history, beliefs, and experiences. When we live in “autopilot”, like “machines” that do not stop to think, we might limit the possibilities of the world around us. There may be many things that are transparent to us, that we don´t see because we are not aware or recognizing that there are things we may not know that we don´t know, understand, or distinguish.

This may limit the possibility of new experiences, trying activities that we have never done, learning, and growing. I’ll share a personal example. This year I reached the million miles traveling with United. This is an indication of how much I’ve flown internationally for work since the year 2000. When I have had to choose the seat, I have always chosen the ail to avoid asking to leave and return to my seat, especially when I drink lots of water to hydrate during flights. But recently, I had a window because there were no more seats available in ails. In this case I could not choose. I was working as usual on my computer and I happened to look out the window by chance. The day was beautiful, the sky was clear and visibility was excellent which allowed me to admire the beauty of flying from Los Angeles to Houston. I really liked what I was watching and I closed the computer and enjoy the scenery. Suddenly I realized that for twelve years I had not paid much attention to what I had to see behind the window. My goal was always to make sure I took advantage of my time flying  to work on my computer, read a books or sleep to recover energy. The ability to “do nothing” or just enjoy the view from the window was not a possibility for me. Maybe I had a belief that was wasting time and had to be “productive”. This made me reflect on my life in other places where  I might live in “automatic” and I do not stop to think about other possible actions.

I would like to invite you to reflect on your life and wonder where you might be living this way without stopping to ask if there is are other possible choices. This exercise is valuable because when we pause to reflect on our lives, and we are aware that there are things that we don´t know that know we do not know, we can reach new levels of satisfaction but mostly wellbeing and personal growth. I wish you good luck in your exploration!