According to happiness research professionals—and yes, there are such people—people are most unhappy when they are commuting. If your commute takes an hour, that two hours a day adds up to almost 22 days a year spent being miserable.
But what choice do we have? Surprisingly, there are more than I thought. Wish you had more quiet time to think? Turn off the radio and listen to yourself breathing deeply. Did you know they make aromatherapy scents that you can plug in to your car’s cigarette lighter?
Not the meditative type? Crank up the loud music they won’t tolerate at home.
OK, singing in the car—who hasn’t thought of that? But have you ever considered exercising in the car?
On the eHow website, Sports and Fitness Editor Kristen Knight offers some creative ideas.
“You may think it’s impossible or even silly to try to work out in your car, but a few simple exercises can help you burn calories, reduce stiffness in your joints, and may even have you laughing your way along the highway,” she writes.
Step 1: Squeeze and release: the most common exercises that can easily be done in the car are called isometric contractions. They involve squeezing or activating your muscle, holding the contraction for a few seconds, then release.
Step 2: Release tension in your neck and shoulders with shoulder shrugs. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears, hold for 8 to 10 seconds, and lower. Repeat.
Step 3: Keep your butt from getting numb by squeezing your gluteal muscles, hold for a count of 10, then relax. Repeat.
Step 4: Toe raises will help work the muscles on the front of your shins. Lift toes, hold 10 seconds, relax and repeat.
Step 5: Hold onto the handle above window and engage the biceps as though you’re going to pull yourself out of your seat. Hold for 8-10 seconds, then relax.
Step 6: Squeeze your abdominal muscles as though you’re trying to touch your ribs to your stomach, then release and sit up tall.
Or, you could get a mental workout. The local library has books on CDs that you could listen to during the commute. You could learn a language, become enlightened listening to the Dalai Lama or catch up on guilty pleasures like Danielle Steele.
There’s one more element to consider. If you commute on a bus or train, you have even more options to choose from. You could plan your day or the week’s meals and shopping. You could get a jump on your workday using a laptop. You could even watch DVDs on the laptop.
If you use mass transit, you have one other option that isn’t available to those of us who drive. You could nap!
I’ll leave you with this Roy M. Goodman quote: “Remember that happiness is a way of travel — not a destination.”