Making Peace with my Commute
November 6, 2019
Growing up in a small town, the longest “commute” you have is around twenty minutes to go across town. Generally, people enjoyed driving and on Sunday I would go on a drive along the lake with my dad to relax and enjoy the open roads. Parking was plentiful and free. People used their car horns only for emergencies or to give friends a quick “hello” as they passed by. For much of my life, driving was a preferred occupation and something I looked forward to as part of my day. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, that all changed and driving quickly became one of my most stressful and unenjoyable occupations. My shortest commute is around twenty minutes, roads are rarely open, parking is sparse and expensive, and car horns are a little less friendly. What once was one of my most enjoyable thirty minute daily occupation was now my least enjoyable two hour daily inconvenience.
Quickly, I realized that I had taken on this pessimistic attitude toward driving and it was impacting me negatively. After coming to this realization, I chose to reframe my attitude toward my commute and find ways to make the time more enjoyable and relaxing. My first discovery on my quest to making my commute enjoyable was podcasts! Listening to podcasts and audiobooks brought back much of my enjoyment for the drive itself. Within a few weeks, I was hooked on several podcasts including Stuff You Should Know, Modern Love, and Ted Talks Daily. I now looked forward to a long drive because it gave me time to listen to a great story or learn something new.
Along with listening to podcasts, I made some other changes to my driving routine to create a more relaxing experience. First, I started using the app Waze to estimate my drive time for the next day and I would automatically add thirty minutes to all of my trips. This additional thirty minutes allowed me to relax when I encountered unexpected traffic, time to find parking, and take the slow lanes where I tend to find more friendly drivers. Next, I started walking or riding my longboard places that were close to my apartment and I found that I would usually get to my destination faster than if I had taken my car. Lastly, I began to pay more attention to the routes I took each day so I could take my eyes away from my phone’s GPS system. Knowing my daily route gave me the opportunity to relax because I was no longer concerned with missing a turn or getting lost.
Making these changes has brought back my enjoyment of driving and reduced the stress in my life. Recently, I even started going on Sunday drives again down the coast and it feels just like when I would drive along the lake with my dad. Moving to a big city came with a lot of change, but I am happy to say that I have made peace with my commute.