Have you ever found yourself going through the motions of your day without really thinking about what you’re doing? This is what’s known as being in “default mode,” also referred to as being on “autopilot.” According to Dan Gilbert, a Harvard researcher and author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” we spend 46.9% of our time in this state. In other words, nearly half of our day is spent in a mental state where our thoughts are allowed to drift without conscious effort or control. We tend to contemplate things that happened in the past, events that might happen in the future, or things that may never happen at all. When that happens, you’re on “autopilot”.
But there is another mode of operation for our brain: the “direct mode.” This is when we are present in the moment, actively choosing what we think about and how we engage with the world around us. While default mode can be convenient for routine tasks that don’t require much thought, it can also lead to negative and limiting beliefs becoming encoded in our brain and shaping our default mode of thinking.
Changing our default mode of thinking requires a mindset reset, which is a process rather than a one-time event. It involves breaking old patterns of negative thinking and replacing them with more positive, supportive, and optimistic thoughts. Compare it to learning to write with your opposite hand. At first, it’s hard and doesn’t feel right, but with practice, it becomes second nature.
It’s important to recognize that being a deliberate thinker is a skill that can be developed and mastered. It may take effort and repetition, but it is worth it in order to break free from negative default modes of thinking and cultivate a more positive and proactive mindset. By intentionally directing our thoughts, we can choose to evolve rather than simply repeating the same patterns over and over again.