I’m generally a pretty happy person, but this time of year I’ve noticed my spirit has a tendency to drop a few pegs. Probably has something to do with the shorter days or whatever. Who knows. Anyway, it occurs to me that I’m not alone. There are LOTS of unhappy people out there. If you drive on the highways and byways of greater Rochester, you’ll get to meet many of them.
This week I foolishly let myself get drawn into not one, but two ugly squabbles. The first was with a driver who sped up to catch me from behind (in the right lane mind you) and then refused to let me merge when our two lanes became one. So, like a bozo, I whaled on my horn for a while and shook my fist in the air at the guy to make sure he saw me in his rear view mirror…
The second incident was in the comments section of another local blog (although this time I didn’t shake my fists in the air; I just typed on my keyboard unusually hard). The article was about local commuter habits (driving v walking v biking etc.) and one of the commenters was expressing extreme disgust at cyclists who ride in the road and do not pull over quick enough to let her car pass.
This person claimed that there are many more of these inconsiderate cyclists than there are inconsiderate drivers. Highly debatable, but let’s say this is true… I’m of the opinion that the car/driver should take a chill pill and wait for the next (safe) opportunity to pass the cyclist. After all, unless you’re riding in a golf cart, you’ve got the horsepower to make up for any time lost. And the safest place for that cyclist to be is where he/she will be easily seen – sometimes that means using the full lane.
But who am I to talk. When I drive I clearly experience the same symptoms of anxiety and impatience—even rage—as any of these nugget heads.
What is it that makes us so prone to negative emotions when we’re behind the wheel. Here’s a good article that breaks it down nicely…
- Tension… driving is risky. Our minds are on high-alert.
- Goal-blocking… WHY are you in MY way?! Don’t you know I have to be somewhere?
- Unwritten rules… we tend to judge people who don’t act as we think they should.
- Anonymity… drivers don’t know each other so we think we can get away with things we would normally do outside of our cars, and there isn’t the opportunity to reach any sort of mutual understanding.
I took a psychology class once (20 years ago). The Pursuit of Happiness by David G. Myers was required reading, and I’m glad I actually read it because I learned something; that one of the best ways to achieve happiness is to establish connections with a larger community.
Myers quotes John Winthrop, who in 1630 led one of the first groups of Puritans to land on American shores. Winthrop spoke to his people on board a ship, “We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body.”
Words to live by.
Your community need not be a religious one to be effective. Yet another Rochester blogger gives a perfect example of how sharing a ride with perfect strangers, all willing to make room on a crowded bus, brought him to a happy place.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I suppose spilling my thoughts on these pages serves as another path to happiness for me. Or at least a way for me to work through my own mind; figure stuff out.
You know what? It’s a beautiful day, for a change. I think I’m going to take a leap of faith here. Starting today I am going to give up my car commute. There. I said it.
Now let’s see how long this drunken stupor lasts. Place your bets…
Tags: biking, commute, cycling, driving, happiness, mass transit, mass transportation, public transit, public transportation, Rochester
This entry was posted on Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 12:01 am and is filed under Opinion, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.