How to Have a Happy Commute

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Does your morning commute make you arrive at work feeling angry and frustrated?  When someone wishes you a “Good Morning” is your response “What is so freaking good about it!!” Well, you’re not alone. Numerous studies support the fact that a longer commute – one hour or more, heavy traffic, poor weather conditions and construction delays during your daily commute can lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety and can dramatically reduce overall life satisfaction and happiness.

I personally struggled a great deal for years with my three-hour daily commute to and from work. I constantly complained about the time I was spending in my car and away from my loved ones. Fuming about all other things I could be doing if I wasn’t stuck in traffic. Road rage with the use of phrases like “look at this idiot” was the norm for me.

Common Commuting Solutions: Most studies suggest the same six basics solutions:

  1.  Carpooling
  2.  Moving closer to your job
  3.  Avoid rush hour traffic by working flex hours
  4.  Walking or biking
  5.  Listening to soothing music
  6. Avoiding the office altogether by working from home

All these suggestions are sensible enough but besides carpooling all the other options were not feasible for myself or my family.

My carpooling experience was not good at all. I tried numerous times with a variety of drivers and I quickly discovered that there is nothing more frustrating than when someone ELSE makes you late for work. Then there was the challenge of finding a driver that matched my driving styles. Driving with someone who drove too slow, practiced back set driving or worst drove like a dis-banned race car driver caused me more stress than it was worth in the end.   

My Commute Solution: I thought of quitting my job every day until I changed my mental approach to my commute. At the risk of sounding very “new-aged” or what my girlfriend terms “Whhooo whooo-ish” I must admit that changing my attitude towards my commute was the only thing that worked for me.

Gratitude – Before leaving the house I thought about how lucky I was to have a car and a job in the first place. I gave thanks for the quality roads we have in Canada reflecting on the countries I visited with horribly bumpy roads or no roads at all.

Planning Ahead –  I packed myself enjoyable treats to pop in my mouth on my commute focusing on sweet, natural foods that helped put me in a good mood. Red grapes are still my favourite. I also started using the time to learn Spanish and I listen to audio courses on finance, relationships and other “Whooo whoooish” type courses that I find interesting and the hours just fly by. I arrive at work with new ideas and vigour. After a few weeks, my boss noticed the change in my work performance. (try for great audio book options).

Being Nice – Play games with the other drivers – waving, smiling or giving the right of way and made an effort to acknowledge my fellow commuters as much as I could.  Often times getting big smiles and waves in return that just made me feel like a better person. The ego boost is incredible and contagious. I walked into work feeling like Mother Theresa.

Give these tips a try for a week and see what happens. Share your positive commute experiences. What are your happy commute tips or suggestions? Share them and let’s make commuting happier for everyone.  DRIVE HAPPIER!


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