We all know how the day goes . . . driving from point A to point B to point C all the way to point Z – with kids and groceries and all the attachments in tow. Right? And we all too often are running behind schedule because our toddler had a tantrum at the very moment of departure because he didn’t have his favorite colour water bottle. And then we end up rushing to buckle up all our screaming children inside the car and step on the gas to make it to the next swimming lesson . . . !
And so there you are, driving rather swiftly through the suburb (while the crying from the back seems to forget why it was crying) and your eyes darting frequently between the road and your watch, calculating careful maneuvers and shortcuts to make your total time to destination a minimum.
Then, you hit a couple of traffic lights. Oh boy – we can’t be late for swimming again. And there’s a big heavy truck going the same way as you. You overtake the truck (perhaps not as carefully as you should have with a slight blind-rise) and you race to make it through the next traffic light. But you get caught at the red light and a few moments later the truck stops behind you.
Was all that extra fuel to beat the truck and the next traffic light really worth it?
But never mind too much, you soon lose the truck as your minivan pulls off nicely when the light turns green, and a few minutes later you have reached your destination. But, if our minds return to the truck – wherever it is at that same moment – it is probably only about a minute behind, in relation to you.
So then, is being a minute or even two minutes early, really worth the extra fuel, the rush, the stress levels, the few instances you weren’t as careful as you could have been while driving?
This is the opportunity cost we need to consider in our daily run-around lives spent behind the wheel. Here are the reasons we perhaps need to take a ‘chill pill’ when we head out the driveway:
1. Don’t Race To The Red Light
I find it amusing sometimes when drivers drive fast even when they see a red light ahead. Save your fuel and coast to a stop when you see the stoplight ahead or even predict one. Don’t rush to the red light only to have to hit the brakes and wait for the green. Popular Mechanics did an article on Fuel Economy and this came up as one of the points to help. By applying your brakes less harshly, you will save on fuel (and most likely replace your brake pads less often).
2. Obey the Speed Limit – You’ll Save Money
Here again, keep to the speed limit instead of collecting speeding fines that you’ll have to pay with your pocket money or money you’ll have to take from savings. Because honestly, who budgets for speeding fines? Remember too, that some countries will take away a license should you stack too many fines against your name.
3. Be Kind To Your Car – You’ll Save More Money
As with everything, if you treat something kindly, it will serve you well and for much longer. Yanking the car into gear and getting high RPMs as you race to your kid’s piano lesson isn’t going to help your car engine last. Cars are one of the biggest assets we own, and they depreciate in value like crazy too. In other words, look after the car that you have now. So change those gears more skillfully, use that clutch more smoothly, press that accelerater more gradually – all these moving parts will wear down more quickly if we treat our cars like slaves. Here’s a link to an article that explains why we shouldn’t speed up and slow down too quickly when we drive if we want to be kind to our car engines.
4. Be Kind To Your Adrenal Glands
Not sure what your adrenal glands are? Here’s a quick link to an article about what the adrenal glands are and their purpose. They basically deal with stress that we experience. And driving can be stressful. This point is important to remember and to practice for all aspects of our lives. If you just relax a little when driving (however still staying alert and attentive whilst driving) instead of being oh-so eager to overtake every hearse driver or old lady or get offended by that BMW who overtook you and flashed their lights at you – you will learn to manage the stress of driving. Enjoy the journey and the drive. Keep your stress-levels in check and relax!
5. Enjoy Life – Practice Some Mindfulness
This goes on from the previous point: Enjoy the drive. Be mindful by taking in all your senses as you drive: the chatter of kids in the back of the car (okay, that’s a tough one) the sunlight surrounding the trees outside and the tranquil suburb road. Take it all in and use your senses to enjoy life and the blessing to have a car and to be driving. Life is good!
6. Road Safety and Courtesy To Other Drivers
Adhering to speed limits and more careful driving aids in road safety. Road safety saves lives. There’s nothing I really need to add to this point that we don’t know already. We need to do all we can to prevent accidents and also be courteous to other drivers. The Guardian did a great article with excellent tips we can implement to improve our road safety.
And so, in a nutshell: Unless there’s a tsunami heading your way, take it easy when you are behind the wheel. Be kind to your car, be kind to your nerves as well as the drivers around you. You’ll surely reap the rewards of having a more calm daily life from having more mindful habits on the road. And I’m pretty sure you will be a little happier in your life when your focus is on the things that matter most.