How to carefully relieve road anger and reduce driving stress

“Smile, breathe, go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

As a Lyft driver, I used to spend a lot of time on the road. An environment full of provocation and stressors.

Driving can feel like a constant challenge to adopt mindfulness, rather than giving way to destructive emotions such as impatience and frustration. It can be difficult to practice meditation when driving a car (because you need to pay close attention to both activities). Try to point all your senses at the car. Doing so could plow pedestrians or put the car in a ditch and exit. ..

However, carefully navigating the road does not have to mean closing your eyes or adopting other classic “meditation” stances. I think it contains something simpler. Momentary Separation-from everything that’s happening around you, and from both your own internal reactions that you’re looking at from the smallest distance you’ve ever seen while it’s waning and flowing.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about staying calm on stress-inducing roads.

The importance of keeping in mind that sometimes there is something we don’t see.

As I was driving Market Street through downtown SF, I noticed a lot of pedestrians standing in the pedestrian crossing in the middle of the street. They had no right of way. The lights were red for them and green for our drivers trying to get through. The car was ringing.

Maybe for a moment my urge was to add to Horn’s melee attack. Then I took a closer look and saw what was really happening: a woman dropped her bag and its contents spilled onto the pavement. The people on the street were passers-by who ran to help her pick them up.

After they were done, I noticed how they stood and raised their hands with an apology gesture [to the perturbed honkers] It seemed to say both “Please wait for a minute” and “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.

Witnessing this has led me to think about how often I jump to reactivity before I understand what’s happening first in this fast-paced world. I think we are ready to do this on the go.

As Shankar Vedantam said in the podcast Hidden Brain, “This woman didn’t hit you maliciously. She’s blind. This soldier standing in a platoon doesn’t have what she needs. He did not faint because he is diabetic and needs his insulin. This woman is not ruthless because she did not help the fallen elderly. She is paralyzed with a spinal cord injury. . “

Often, a larger whole important part of life is not available to us, but we may act or respond as if we were under the assumption that we could access all of them. ..

Especially when the driver in front of you is moving very slowly or stopping randomly, you may feel the urge to honk. Why are they “not so compassionate”? Ask in your head if you have forgotten the position of the accelerator pedal. My immediate instinct is to hold the people who support me accountable.

Still, I have to be aware of the lack of information. Perhaps the driver in front of me is stopping to get someone to cross the street. There may be an invisible red light in front of you. Perhaps… [insert any other number of possibilities here]..

But I can’t see it.

I am also on the receiving side. For example, when a baby animal stops crossing the road. Unable to see the animals blocking the road, the car behind me is frustrated and sounds their disapproval.

Willingness to admit when I’m wrong (similar to the points above).

When I crossed the Richmond Bridge and got home, I thought there were only two lanes, so I thought the guy next door was driving along my shoulder and cheating.

In response, my mind interweaves the entire story of a qualified driver doing whatever he wants to do. Using his shoulders as his lane, he can accelerate beyond the parked car mass after gaining a clear edge and before returning to the puck.

To the driver he endangered [through this behavior]He honked and responded, “Why don’t they just relax?”

I imagined people doing the same thing when they weren’t in the car. Those who are blindfolded in their actions call others “too sensitive” and refuse to admit that they have contributed to eliciting this perhaps sensitive reaction.

Indignation, I honked the driver, but he continued to drive along his “shoulder.” I showed him a distrustful look. He didn’t look back. He didn’t even seem to register that my horn was pointed at him.

At that time, I realized the reason. The “shoulder” was actually a legal lane.

Recalling what I did wrong in the past helps me practice calm when I want to be indignant on the road.

Practice forgiveness mistakes.

Consider a car that gets stuck in the middle of an intersection during times of heavy traffic. This is usually because the lights turned red in the middle of the intersection. I often think of how the cars around them unleash the horn ambush to signal their disapproval.

I tell myself this when I’m trying to honk an angry horn: The trapped driver made a mistake. He or she probably already knows. Your horn doesn’t tell him what he doesn’t know yet.

I’ve noticed that my horn has already added more noise to the overly noisy road, exacerbating the driver’s shame while maintaining my own stress and self-justice.

As an aside, I’ve found that the most reckless drivers may be the least tolerant of the mistakes of other drivers.At one point, I saw a man driving 80 in a shopping district. very I was dissatisfied when I changed to his lane (although doing this would not have been a “near miss” for someone who was keeping the speed limit).

First he braked. Then he woven around us into the lane next to us in the theater. From there, he changed lanes three more times in one block, dodging cars like an enemy in a high-speed tracking video game.

Recalling that we all made mistakes makes it easy to provide elegance to other drivers.

Practice gratitude. Admit it to yourself when you have a smooth ride. Hold the moment and remember how it felt.

Every time I cross a bridge in a bay with no traffic, a metaphor comes to mind (this rarely happens, but it feels magical). Cruising on smooth paved roads with no cars visible will give you a winter-like white Christmas feel.

This spectacle of calm and purification is in stark contrast to the default state of the highway. Usually, the car grows long and always reminds us of overcrowding and limited resources. It feels like sliding down a ski when the snow is fresh, pristine, freshly cultivated and not worn by other skiers.

I wrote it down with gratitude.

Even machines like Siri can receive your gratitude. For example, I’m grateful that she takes me to another route when traffic is blocking the freeway. One drove past an idyllic side street past a sunflower field while country music was playing from the car speakers (and insects splattering on the windshield)... Second, the river flowed a few feet away from us, providing a visually and audibly calm background.

Do not force. However, if you see a moment of gratitude, please register (even if it is extended towards inanimate objects). If you’re the only one, admit it.

Humanize other drivers around you.

I think it’s easy to dehumanize the drivers who share the road because you see the car first and the person next, which makes the road angry worse and stronger. However, human components can be restored by adjusting to specific visual cues.

I have found that making eye contact with other drivers can calm the anger of the road that is starting to foam on my side.Other small things can also help, such as keeping my Corgi stuffed animal visible (when the driver gets angry, the sight may calm them down.).

At one point, while driving, I came across a car parked in the middle of the road. Just as I was about to suffer from an obstacle, a little Latin boy eating apricot stuck his head out of the car window. Juice dribbled his chin while he was waiting for his car to be repaired (that’s why they were stopped). The innocent sight immediately calmed me down. It was almost characteristic card-level sweetness and centering.

Another “tempering” visual clue: When a dog sticks his head out of the window and feels a breeze on his face. One day, when I saw them, I was starting to get frustrated. The big, brown eyes were wide open, serious, slightly damp, and shining above the golden nose of the back window.

Once again, I calmed down. Eye contact spread anxiety. Even though stress pushed us and encouraged us to reduce each other to the metal gimmicks that were orbiting inside, we all realized that we were physical.

Take your time, sir. In the meantime, I’ll spend some time with your sweet fur baby, if it’s okay …

If you don’t have a visual clue, use your imagination.

Whenever the slow driver in front of me begins to feel impatient, but I can’t see their faces (or have no other visual clues to relieve the impatience), I take a deep breath. Then I gently advise you to imagine a human being in the car.

The details of the person that came to my mind aren’t really important. The important thing is for me to recognize their humanity and develop patience for everyone.

If that doesn’t work, try drawing one of your family members. What if the driver is your uncle, your kind elderly neighbor, or your mom? Use your imagination to look inside a 2,000-pound metal machine blocking your path. Draw a feature on the faceless enemy in it. Releases the operator’s object.

— —

Driving and traffic can be stressful and exhausting. If you feel like a car around you and are basically crawling to your destination, you should get out of the car and pull with a rope. At least that way, you can get exercise and vitamins. D.

From time to time, I want someone to invent a car feature that allows the driver to switch to “pedal mode.” It is the best way to release endorphins (and thereby reduce stress levels) through exercise in these inherently stressful situations.

But until these innovations are realized, we can work to control the internal response, even in the event of external road frustration.

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