Mindful Driver | 7 reasons I like sitting in traffic
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7 reasons I like sitting in traffic

Traffic is just part of life on the road and I think it is safe to say that the majority of us don’t look forward to it. The idea of sitting still in a queue of cars while the clock ticks by can seem like a waste of time. In fact, we could probably list numerous reasons why we don’t like it. However, is there a positive side we might be overlooking? And if there is, how would it change our experience if we chose to focus on the pros instead of the cons?

Here are 7 reasons I like sitting in traffic:

  1. A chance to enjoy the moment
    So much of the world around us is missed because we are busy rushing from A to B, focusing on a future goal and not the present situation. I love taking a moment, just a couple of seconds, while sat in a queue to briefly look around and take in what’s around me. It might be blossom on the trees, the wind blowing the grass, the sun light coming through the rain clouds in the distance. Whatever it is there is enjoyment in the momentary noticing of it. It improves safety as well. Looking around and using our mirrors we can notice cyclists filtering through or emergency lights approaching in the distance. It improves our awareness of the here and now rather than being lost in our thoughts about the past or future. Be curious about your surroundings and see what you notice.
  2. An opportunity for people watching
    People are fascinating and there is real insight to be found from watching others on the road. After all, what we see in others can quite often tell us a lot about what kind of person we are. It too will increase our awareness and safety as we notice the people who are most likely to increase risk on the road.
  3. More time to enjoy the company of others or myself
    If I have passengers I can learn from them and their experiences as we talk about each others day, as well as giving them an ear to be heard with. If I’m on my own then that gives me space to be quiet, a break from the demands of others that we can feel in this interconnected world. In both cases I am given the opportunity to practice managing distractions, a skill which is crucial in safe driving.
  4. I get to relax my body
    When we drive in free moving traffic we can tense up without even realising it. It might be because of a stressful driving situation, or because we’re worried about what lies waiting for us when we arrive at work, or just simply because! Taking a moment when we’re stopped to scan through the body and relax those areas which have tensed up will help avoid aches and pains from arising and causing problems later in the day.
  5. I remember to notice my breath more
    Again, when stopped for a few seconds you can notice a breath or two, in and out. This will relax the body and the mind helping you enter the next section of road more clearheaded and focused. It is also a great way to put the past behind you, which is especially useful if you’ve had an encounter with an aggressive driver.
  6. Space to think
    Your sub-conscious mind is great at problem solving and if you give it the time and space to work it can achieve great things. Bring your driving into the conscious part of your mind by focusing on the action of driving and your sub-conscious mind will be left to figure out that issue at work you’ve been puzzling over. Slow moving traffic is ideal for this because it gives us time to really hone in on the movement involved in controlling the car.
  7. But most of all, it teaches me patience
    When we get stuck in traffic with no way to improve the situation and we’re running late for a meeting we have 2 choices. We can either resist the moment by cursing others for being in the way, the reality that there is actually a queue or even ourselves for not leaving earlier. This leads to stress, frustration and anger. Or we can accept the fact that we can’t change this reality and we will get to the meeting when we get there and no amount of fighting it will improve our lot. Acceptance leads to peace, and I would much rather get to my meeting in a peaceful state of mind where I can think more clearly, compared to a stressed and panicked state where I can’t think straight and completely mess up the meeting leaving me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. So thank you traffic, for giving me the opportunity to be patient, learning to accept what I can’t change and find peace in the stillness.
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