Nope, it’s ain’t your favorite part of the workday. That’s for sure.
Congested traffic…it’s organized chaos. You attempt to maneuver your way out but it traps you.
Friendly motorists become rivals vying for position. Fighting their way forward as tempers flare.
Weird isn’t it? How most people change mindsets instantly. The moment they get in their car and onto the freeway…
A mental switch is flipped.
Game faces are slapped on. Aggression turned up skyhigh.
People cut you off almost clipping your car. It’s nothing personal, for them at least. But for you, it’s disrespectful.
No driving etiquette, no manners.
An hour slips by and you’re late. A cautious driver at your front is going slower than molasses.
You change lanes. Unknowingly in front of a tailgater outta hell. Big mistake.
Glancing at your rear view mirror, your stomach sinks. No matter how hard you hit the gas. He’s on you. So close, it feels like he’s in your back seat.
You need a solution for your travel woes.
But you hate carpooling or taking the train. You can’t leave before rush hour because of your rigid schedule.
But what if there’s a way to mentally deal with this crisis now? Maybe even prevent your feathers from being ruffled so easily?
Impossible you say?
It’s possible my friend.
And it’s easier than you think.
Stop Suffocating Yourself
If you haven’t done so already, consider this a prerequisite.
Breathing. Nope, not rapid-fire breathing that makes you dizzy.
But slow deep calculated breaths.
The moment you’re agitated, air is significantly cut off. Like an obstructed windpipe.
Breathing becomes abbreviated and restricted. Like you’re not moving your diaphragm.
Nothing flows. So whatever hopeless state you’re in remains stuck.
But breathe properly, and a wonderful thing happens.
Deep breathing triggers the vagus nerve. A nerve that helps put our nervous system in check. It lowers the heart rate, relaxes the muscles and most importantly…
Stops your mind from racing so you’ll be more level-headed.
Precisely what’ll help in a long tiring commute.
Don’t Have Patience
Patience implies you have a fuse. Some people have short fuses. Some long.
Nonetheless, a fuse eventually burns out. And when its gone, there’s nothing left to restrain your temper.
That’s why patience won’t work.
Instead, observe your predicament from a detached point of view.
Pretend you’re a different person watching TV on a beach. On the screen is the real you in an uneventful traffic jam.
Look through the eyes of the person watching TV. Then ask yourself what truthful reaction he/she would exhibit.
Think about that for a second.
Truth is they’d get bored easily. They’d lose interest and turn it off. No longer showing interest and neither should you.
Maintain this viewpoint in your mind’s eye during your commute.
When you see things from a third party perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the aggravation.
Patience need not apply.
Play the Right Music
When music plays in the mall, the tempo may affect the speed of your stride. If the tempo is fast, you walk fast. If it’s slow, you’ll follow suit. Funny thing is you wouldn’t even realize it.
How much more when driving with your foot on the gas pedal.
What comes out of your car speakers can be night and day. It subconsciously guides how tightly wound up or relaxed you wanna be.
Your choice. So don’t ignore its influence.
Fast paced music may make you drive faster and stress you out quicker.
But listen to a soothing slow track and it’ll help keep your cool. As well as prevent you from feeling rushed.
Even a positive audiobook to distract your mind from the road is just as good.
Use audio that helps you instead of hurt you.
Practice Prevention Daily
Like a great debater who mentally practices their enlightened responses and calm reactions in their head, a motorist must do the same.
By preparing to expect the unexpected, there’s no surprises.
Most people plop into their car unprepared. Thinking they’ll drive through hunky dory land. But when caught off guard, they succumb to the hostile environment around them.
Before you hit the road, picture yourself facing all challenges gracefully. Visualize yourself amazingly calm in the heat of traffic.
Seeing yourself made of concrete and steel impervious to the onslaught of stress. In full control when other drivers attempt to tick you off.
Allow this mindset to be a perpetual part of your aura.
Exercise daily and build mental muscle.
Get Out of People’s Way
Yup you heard me.
If someone is tailgating you, what’s the first thing you might typically do?
Perhaps slow down in protest to teach them a lesson. Yelling, “You’re tailgating me?! I’ll slow down even more!”
But that’s a lose-lose situation. And both of you can increasingly become agitated.
Gandhi said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Be the sensible soul by becoming that change. Then ponder these questions:
Do you really want a person who’s in a hurry, irritated, and eager to escape to remain stuck behind you? Or perhaps in front so there’s no potential danger?
When possible, disarm your ego and perform a good deed. Voluntarily move out of the way or let them overtake you. Learn to let them go to let it flow.
You can clear any blockage. Literally and figuratively.
Ask Yourself This One Simple Question
Do you remember who made you furious on the road last week? Or exactly what date you were speeding recklessly last month? Probably not.
Why would you? And that’s the point, because seriously who cares?
Somehow we blow up an insignificant situation into a harrowing ordeal.
For example, we dangerously weave in and out of traffic to avoid being late. Putting others at risk.
Or we’ll fly off the handle when someone cuts us off. Wishing to return the favor.
But why lower ourselves to an adversarial level?
If something starts to bug you again, ask yourself this one simple question:
“Will this really matter to me in the next 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 years?”
99% of the time, you’ll answer “No, it won’t matter at all.”
If it doesn’t matter, it’s a moot point. There’s no reason to stress. Nor act out any destructive behavior.
Stop Judging Other Drivers
Because every judgement you make puts you one step closer to a more miserable commute.
You mumble things like, “This guy is an absolute idiot! Must be a new driver.” or “She’s got a nice car but has no clue how to drive. How’d she last this long without an accident?”
The moment you find a motorist irritating, you may already be judging.
Avoid the temptation.
There’s no use scrutinizing every little tiny thing that transpires. Because news flash: Shit happens. It’s part of traffic and no one is perfect.
Stop judging others and you’ll cease to inadvertently feed your irritations.
Love Your Enemies
Mother Teresa knew this. So did Pope John Paul II. But you don’t have to be religious to do it.
If you want to be 100% stress-free, you’ve got to be willing to do what it takes.
I get it, it’s difficult to show love to a complete stranger. Especially if they’re honking and firing expletives at you.
However see yourself as the bigger person. Lead by example.
To get the ball rolling, throw something positive towards them like: “You’re only human, sometimes people do things they don’t mean.”
Say this in your mind. Even if you don’t mean it. Why? Because something beautiful starts to happen.
The hate you initially possess will decrease a bit. And your stress level will drop down a notch.
All your life you’ve conditioned yourself to feel good when giving compliments.
If you compliment complete strangers, you’ll activate those stored positive reactions. Use that to your advantage.
It’ll feel awkward at first, but keep at it. This resistance you initially feel means you’re growing inside. Eventually you’ll start to show true compassion.
Sending out positive vibes to others who have wronged you. Not only will make you more wise, but develop a deeper sense of fulfillment as well.
Change Your Perception, Change Your Attitude
Rain or shine, commutes will always exist. An unpredictable Wild West for commuters.
It’s repetitive and exhausting. Exposing you to a barrage of stressors. Day in, day out.
But no matter. You’ve already got the tools in your head. If you choose to practice these steps, discover what works for you.
Commutes don’t have to be unpleasant. You can choose not to absorb its toxic nature. Nor infect others with negative energy.
Applying yourself a little bit each day is all it takes. Your progress will compound over time and become second nature.
Imagine yourself calm and cool. Realizing that controlling your temper during a commute is nothing more than an exercise in futility.
You’ll witness other commuters lose their sanity and go berserk from every tiny mishap.
While you effortlessly remain unfazed by the circus around you.
So be proud. Be very proud.
You’ve arrived at your destination.