Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Driving Kindness


Lately I’ve been thinking about driving more kindly. It doesn’t come naturally.

I have a lot of friends who are angry drivers. I hate riding with them. They yell at other drivers as they drive. “What do you think you are doing?” Or make impatient noises indicating their disgust. Or tailgate slow drivers to try to make them uncomfortable. Or complain about how poorly everyone else is driving.

I used to feel a bit superior because I don’t do this. But the other day as I was driving home, I realized how judgmental I am. I may not be yelling or tsking or tail-gating but I’m still thinking those things. “Could you move a littler faster?” “What do you think you’re doing?” “You really think I’m going to let you cut into this lane just because you were too impatient to wait with the rest of us?”

I decided to try driving with loving-kindness. If I drove with loving-kindness, when I’m behind a slow driver, I would simply slow down, keep a respectful distance and think, “Hmm, maybe I need to be reminded to slow down,” or “Maybe they are looking for an address. I hope they find it.” If I drove with loving kindness, when someone tries to sneak into my lane, I’d think, “I bet they didn’t know they had to be in this lane,” and let them in. If I drove with loving-kindness and someone else tail-gated me, I’d say, “Oh, do you want to go by? I’ll move aside.” When I came to an intersection where it was confusing as to who should go first, I would not decide when to go by what is right (“I was here first”) or logic “(Well, he’s waiting for a pedestrian, so I should go.”) No, I would take my turn in the way I assume would make everyone else the happiest.

I have tried to put this into action. I don’t drive that often (maybe once or twice a week) so I haven’t had much practice. I have to tell you it is extremely difficult (at least for me) but it turns driving into a totally different experience.

That cute yellow car is my three year old Ford Focus: Sunny.

2 comments:

Alyss said...

I have also made a point to do this at times. It usually is spurred on by a completely uncharacteristic-for-me outburst about how stupid someone is being. The yelling itself seems to be a reminder to think, "Oh, they probably just didn't know about the lane change", or "They're probably feeling really rushed, I hope they find comfort soon." It is pretty amazing how quickly those thoughts change your whole attitude.

Mary Catherine said...

I found your blog through Denise (lostcityknits) and hope you don't mind my stopping by! I love your thoughts on driving with kindness, and agree that the world would be a much better place if we would just spend our time, especially our travel time, being open to loving energy rather than hunched beneath our own little grumpy thunderclouds.