Monday, December 24, 2012
Xmas Spirit on the Road
Today was Christmas eve and as I went out to do a few errands and later went for our traditional evening of pizza and bowling (!), I decided that I would try to do something very simple. It was actually something I did on one of my very first days of this year. As I was driving around, I simply made a point to look for every chance to let someone go in front of me.
If you've never tried this, it's an interesting exercise. It's fascinating to start noticing how often we try to "beat" the other person to a spot - whether it's getting into a parking spot or getting to an exit ramp or getting out of a parking lot. It's easy for me to get caught up in trying to get places faster. What I notice most is that this mentality creates a certain amount of mostly unnecessary stress. I get frustrated if I'm stuck behind a slow person or if I get held up trying to make a left hand turn. When I slow myself down, and in particular, practice more kindness toward other drivers, it's as if everything somehow become less stressful. I'm reminded that there's rarely any reason to be in such a hurry. When I really work on this, I try to find chances to stop and let people make a turn when I can see they're waiting to find an opening in the traffic.
In some ways, I suppose, this is a bit of a metaphor for life. When we slow down and practice kindness toward others, we usually find ourselves happier, less stressed, and in a better mood. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but I tend to think it has something to do with getting out of our own lives and beginning to focus more outwardly. In times of stress, I think we often get particularly self-absorbed, as if our problems are the worst ones in the world. Doing acts of kindness causes us to think of others more than ourselves, and by doing so, we're forced to let go of our self-absorbtion. It's an interesting phenomenon to ponder . . .