Have you ever really truly analyzed how much of what we do is by rote?
Paying for groceries, the clerk asks,
“How are you?”
Our expected reply, stated without thought:
“Fine, how are you?”
Continuing the script she responds, “Great,” and upon finishing the transaction, adds the obligatory, “Have a nice day.”
Did she really care?
Should we opt to spill our guts about the problems we’re having with aging, would she request the other shoppers stand elsewhere while she counseled, consoled, and cajoled us? Survey says: Not a chance. The brief exchange near the cash register is a pre-ordained, almost-required, nicety; it’s just “what we do.”
That just scratches the surface; dig deeper and discover how much of our lives are run by autopilot.
Picture a typical weekday; we either arise with the help of an alarm — that pushes us to consciousness at the exact same moment as every other weekday — or we don’t use one at all. Upon rising, patterns control everything from the order of our morning constitutional to the clothes we choose. We are either “breakfast eaters” — or not. It’s not “I am” one day and “I’m not” the next. The average grocery store stocks over 40,000 items; yet even those of us who opt for breakfast choose from fewer than a handful of items every morning, the same selections we had yesterday and will eat tomorrow.