Listen to Nature: Calm Down, Relax and Enjoy the Scenery

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Driving in Hawaii was one of the most beautiful and exquisite experiences of my life, excepting two occasions.  On both occasions, I was driving on a single lane highway and it wasn't possible for me to let the driver behind me pass.  No, I wasn't too slow.  Each time I was driving at the maximum legal speed.  There I was, trying to absorb that breathtaking scenery and stay within the legal speed limit, while the drivers behind me in a rush to reach some other place, wouldn't let me.  Roads being winding and narrow, there was no shoulder for me to pull over.  

 Since it was happening in Hawaii, the vacation paradise, it felt really out of place.  It was contrary to the calm and serene mood of Nature that was around me.  Had they been paying attention to the atmosphere around them, they would've heard the Nature  saying to them, "calm down, relax, and enjoy me. I am here for you"  If people came to do the same thing in Hawaii that they did in their own little town, what was the point in coming here, I thought?  Furthermore, the aggressiveness of driving seemed quite ironical in a land which has a saying, "Drive with Aloha."  

 "Aloha," the Hawaiian greeting is more than our "hello."  "Ha" means breath, the life.  Aloha literally means, "I give my breath, my life, to you."   "Driving with Aloha" is to drive in the spirit of friendship and welcoming your fellow drivers and pedestrians.  Driving with Aloha is not just good for Hawaii, it's good for America.  Let's all drive in the spirit of Aloha. 

 Here is an example of why driving this way is good for all of us.  It feels wonderful when we are waiting to take a turn, and someone who has the right of the way, stops and motions us to complete our turn.  We gesture a "Thank you," and the person who surrendered his/her right to us, gestures us back, "You're welcome."   Perhaps, there is an exchange of smile to brighten the mood.  There may be a drop in your blood pressure and stress hormones.  You feel good about the whole experience.  Now imagine how wonderful it would feel if we all were driving in the spirit of mutual co-operation and welcome all the time.  We wouldn't feel so tired when we come home.  Someone driving in front of you, does not move fast enough.  Another is pushing the gas pedal, but can't pick up the speed.  Still another is looking for a particular street and pauses at every turn.  What should you do?  Just slow down and send a mental "Aloha' to the person in the car.  Who gets an extra breath of life?  You do!   

 No matter how high the legal speed is, some of us feel we don't get to drive fast enough.  We make our own accommodation to whatever the speed may be posted in that zone.  If the maximum legal speed is 55 miles an hour, we don't consider driving 60 to 62 miles an hour as breaking the law.  When we drive in a zone where the maximum legal speed is 65, then, we may drive 70 to 72 miles an hour.  It's quite normal and acceptable to us.  Whatever the limit, we always try to stretch the "envelope."  Let's accept it; no matter what speed we drive at, it will never be fast enough.  So, when road conditions slow you down, use that as a breather you need for your sake.  

 A transportation safety personnel once ruefully asked why the public is overcritical of airlines safety personnel and pilots.  When driving our vehicle, we assume more risks on a daily basis than pilots do in a life-time.  In fact, if a chauffeur committed the same errors and wrongful acts that we commit frequently when we drive, we would fire him or her right on the spot.   

 It pays to learn and practice techniques that will help us to keep calm behind the wheel.  It pays to be kind to other motorists.  In this way, we are likely to take less risks, make fewer errors of judgment, and be more alert.  To learn about how you react to the traffic, leave a cassette recorder on in your vehicle and tape your thoughts out loud while you drive.  Listen to the tape at the end of the day.  I promise, you will make a few interesting discoveries about your emotional reactions.  Seek an objective assessment of your driving behavior from your partner or a friend who often rides with you.

 Rather than thinking of yourself as a driver on an island all by yourself, see yourself a part of the driving community.  Such an outlook will help you to realize that your actions affect everyone around you.  I am as much a member of the driving community as anyone else.  Welcome other members of the driving community to share the space with you.  It's everybody's turf and yet nobody's turf.  

 When we see an accident on the road, we slow down for a couple miles as the impact of it is fresh on our mind.  After a couple miles, the impact begins to level down and we return to our usual driving pattern.  Psychological studies confirm that the negative consequences such as, accidents, traffic tickets, and court fines, are our biggest motivations for driving carefully.  Usually, we change our behavior, after we receive the consequences.  Let's get in the habit of reminding ourselves of the negative consequences before we receive them

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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