We spend most of our days doing tasks we have relative mastery over. Anything from brushing our teeth to driving a car, while at one point were challenging to learn, have now become semi-thoughtless experiences. And the older we get, the better we are at doing our daily tasks, thus requiring even less thinking than when we were younger.
We should be thankful for this learning ability we have as humans. It allows us to conserve energy and brainpower by streamlining actions and going on total auto-pilot while doing them. However, there is a downside. Not only do our minds stop getting the workout they need to stay in top form, but it also decreases our awareness of the world around us and makes us live off our impulsive needs rather than our conscious desires.
The journey of waking up in the morning and going about our day is now a blurry rush to the couch to do more of the same; live on autopilot. Living in such a way would be fine if it weren't for the fact that our greatest joys arise from engaging with conscious experiences.
Think back to your first lessons for driving or riding a bike. The act of doing something new, a task that you have no memory of to rely on, this sort of experience can thrust you entirely into the present moment!
Knowing this, it may seem like a good idea to begin learning new things. And while that is true, there is also something else that you can do to restore your sense of self when doing repetitive tasks you've already mastered. Take every action consciously. Recognize the sensation of being on autopilot, take a deep breath, and move forward with your intent placed on every movement. By doing this, you will put your life back into manual control.