Everyday Wisdom #34

Zen and the art of calm driving

Heavy traffic can cause even the most zen-like of us to become frustrated.  Especially if it’s also causing us to run late.

Next time you are stuck in heavy traffic, try the following tips to keep your cool:

Have a conscious intention to stay calm whilst driving.  Before starting the car, state this intention out loud.

Write yourself a note ” I have inner peace within me”.  Put it somewhere you can see whilst driving.

If you find yourself getting frustrated with another driver, try to visualize what might be going on for them to be acting the way they are.  Are they speeding?  Perhaps they are on their way to the hospital to see a loved one that is gravely ill.  Are they going too slow?  Perhaps they are bringing their newborn baby home from hospital.  Did they forget to signal?  Perhaps they have screaming kids in the car and are at their wits end.  Or perhaps they’ve just received very bad news.  Everyone has accidents and makes mistakes, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

Put other cars needs ahead of your own.  Let people merge in front of you.  It won’t make you arrive any later, or earlier, than you would have anyway.  However by focusing on being kind, it will help you keep calm whilst driving.

Always leave at least a car’s length between you and the vehicle in front of you.  That way you are never in danger of being cut off, and the frustration that can go with it.

Treat other drivers as you would like to be treated.  Allow people plenty of room – don’t tailgate them.  Be courteous when they are parking, and wait patiently.

Make sure you always have your favourite music, or an audiobook, or podcast to listen to.  Make the most of the time spent in the car.

Use the time you are stuck in traffic to do a quick body scan.  Do you have any tension anywhere in your body that you can soften?  Shoulders?  Neck?  Are you frowning?  To finish, take a deep calming breath, and smile.

Listen to classical music – or anything that is light and calming and soothing.

And finally Charles Friedline – one of our Facebook followers – had this great suggestion for how he keeps calm:

I just try to “assume innocence”–which is to say,always assume that the person who pulled out in front of you, or cut you off, or whatever, just didn’t see you. Assume that it was an honest mistake. Now, I just try to smile and breathe.

What strategies do you find help to keep you calm in traffic?


This is what happened to my car when I wasn’t as mindful as I should have been…


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15 responses to “Everyday Wisdom #34

  1. Great post! I have about a 2 hour round trip commute each day, so I will admit at times I lose my cool when it comes to other drivers and traffic in general. i tend to try and listen to relaxing music, as well as various podcasts. I will definitely give the “assume innocence” a try!

  2. those are good tips for driving, thanks for sharing

  3. Ooops. Glad you are okay! Honestly my way is not to drive at all. I am about up to trying to drive again (back/legs) but I can tell you I won’t go far, or if I have to travel a great distance, I will take the “scenic route.” That always works. I like to drive in slow traffic. I look forward to the day I can move back to the country. They ARE great tips. Mine would be: live in a small town, or if in a city use public transport, or bicycle/walk/carpool when possible. Being mindful of a) the stress driving causes and b) oil and gasoline use!

  4. I just sit and take deep breaths.

  5. it is very difficult to stay calm while driving in my country as no one respect the law, the stop signs (if any. Usually its music that helps me.

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