Monday morning bumper to bumper traffic. Potholes, road construction and accidents. All things that slow us down when we get where we want to go. Whether you’re travelling by bus, train or car, here are some fun tips and strategies for making your commute more joyful – so that no matter your destination, you arrive in a positive state of mind!
The four elements of joy, according to Dr. Madan Kataria, creator of Laughter Yoga, are Laughing, Singing, Dancing and Playing. You can incorporate these into your commute!
1. Sing your heart out
Create a playlist for your commute. Maybe it’s the mellow jazz stylings of Miles Davis, or peppy pop music to put some oomph in your step. Tap your toes as you listen, or rock it karaoke style if you’re in your car. Some of my favourite songs and musicians include:
- Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
- Born to be Wild
- Play that Funky Music
- 18 Wheeler by Pink
- Stompa by Serena Rider
- Beautiful Day by U2
- Any song by The Proclaimers, AC/DC, Steve Miller Band (am I showing my age?!)
Dance in your seat. And who cares if you’re on public transit – you’re awesome!
2. Appreciate your fellow commuters
Look around the bus or train. Look at each person and find one thing about them that you can appreciate. Maybe someone has got some fantastic shoes. Or they’re reading a book you love. Or they have a great smile. Make up some fun story about the people also stuck in traffic. Where are they going? What adventures await them?
3. Create your gratitude list
Maybe you didn’t get around to making your gratitude list the day before because you forgot to make little Sally or Jimmy’s lunch or the washing machine exploded or you discovered Fluffy’s furball stash in your favourite shoes. Your morning commute is a great time to give thanks. Reflect back on the previous day and think about the things that made you smile. Maybe there was just enough cream left for that last cup of coffee. Maybe your pantyhose made it through the end of the day before they ripped. Maybe someone told you had spinach in your teeth before your big presentation. Or maybe you’re thankful for the one lone rose that survived the accident with the hedge clippers that will be forever known as “The Shrubbery Massacre.”
Your commute is also a great time for you to visualize your upcoming day and set the intention of gratitude. How do you want your day to look? What do you want to be thankful for at the end of the day?
4. Laugh out loud
You’re in your car. And you’re not going anywhere. Leaning on the horn isn’t going to make traffic move any faster. You can crank up the music and get your inner joyful rockstar on, or refer to the Laughter Yoga exercise of Traffic Laughter. Laugh for no reason other than to laugh out loud. 10 minutes of sustained deep laughter has the same cardiac impact as 30 minutes of a cardio workout. Just think! All that time in your car in traffic is like being on a treadmill or the rowing machine! Your body can’t tell the difference between real and fake laughter – you’ll get the benefits by letting out some ha ha ha’s!
5. Smile Meditations
Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile? Yes! Smiling is less work and you’re less likely to develop that Worf-like crease in your forehead. (Yes, I did just reference Star Trek: The Next Generation.) Take some deep breaths and as you exhale, smile (in that nice way, not that creepy leery way). Smiling is a great way to signal to your body that you’re ready to receive positivity! And you may just make a new friend or two.
If you’re going to spend 5-12 hours a week commuting, wouldn’t you want them to be more joyful? And if you find yourself dreading every minute of your commute, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your life choices, so that you can find a better balance and integrate more JOY into your life.
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About the author: Jean Leggett is a stand-up comedian, certified professional coach focusing on joy and laughter. A former suffocated commuter on Vancouver city transit, Jean now works close enough to walk to the office and has a job she loves at Inspiring Joy Every Day, in Barrie, Ontario. You can follow her on Facebook at www.fb.com/coachjeanleggett.
She is launching “JOY Bootcamp,” a 6-week online coaching program on January 22, 2014 for people who are inspired and hungry for more JOY, gratitude and grace in their lives. www.jeanleggett.com/joy-bootcamp.