In our lives, mindlessness is often our mind’s default setting.

Recently I was watching a video of Mark Williams, retired Oxford professor and an expert in mindfulness, share a powerful story.

Suppose you were about to go shopping. But before you leave the house, you wanted to make yourself some tea.

However, all the cups were dirty. So you start washing a cup.

What many of us would do, while washing that cup, is think about other things. What are we going to do next, what are we going to do for the rest of the day, how are we going to get to the mall, perhaps think about something that’s troubling us.

We’re on autopilot. We finish washing the cup and start making ourselves some tea, completely removed from the present moment.

Even when we finally sit down and start drinking the tea, instead of being present and savoring the experience, at one point we just realize that the cup is empty.

Now, fast forward to some time in the future. Imagine that you were diagnosed with a terminal disease and that you had only 6 more months to live. If you lived your entire life like that cup of tea, you’d wonder: Whose life was that? It must’ve been mine, since I lived it, but I wasn’t there for it.