As I write, I am crammed into a middle seat in economy class, headed across the country. Two flights and a six-hour drive later, we will finally reach our destination...Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws.
Yup, its that time of year again. This week millions of Americans will take to the skies and hit the roads for the ritual Thanksgiving dance. Like wild beasts we migrate, sometimes thousands of miles, to be with our broods and eat turkey. For many of us, it's a joyous occasion, full of laughter and hugs and cranberry sauce...once we get there.
The getting-there part is usually not so fun, full of stress and traffic, which can turn us into angry screaming monsters and put a huge damper in the joy of the holiday. So this Thanksgiving, I offer 3 simple tips to help make your migration stress-free. Maybe this year you will arrive at your destination calm and ready for another slice of pie.
1. Not So Fast: Although you think that passing the car in front of you at neck-breaking speeds is going to get you to your destination more quickly, and it might by minutes, the stress you are causing yourself and your car-mates is not worth those few minutes. In front of each car you pass is...guess what? Another car to pass. Instead of obsession over getting in front of the car ahead of you, take a moment to recognize the futility of rushing. Have you ever gotten yourself so worked up about arriving quickly that, once you do, you realize you're the first to arrive and have to wait anyway? This year, take your time by seeing the bigger picture, not just the bumper ahead, and trust that you will get there exactly when you are meant to.
2. Breathe When Stopped: As a culture we are so used to getting what we want, when we want it, that we spend our downtime stressing about having to wait. We hate waiting in lines and we HATE waiting in traffic. Often, we are missing a golden opportunity by focusing on the fact that we aren't moving, instead of focusing on what we've been given...a few minutes of downtime to breathe and stretch. Although our momentum is pulling us forward, and stopping seems like a huge drag, it is actually a gift. Take advantage of it by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths...Ahhh a moment to stop in the midst of so much Go Go Go, how wonderful!
3. Shift Your Seat: When traveling, I often find myself annoyed at all the people around me (like the guy next to me right now who assumes that both armrests are his and that I don't feel his elbows in my ribs when he moves). Instead of playing the blame-game, I try to imagine that I am him. When driving, put yourself in the seat of the other drivers. They too have family dinners to attend. They too are stressing about the car in front of them and how slowly they are going. They too, just like you, are the stars of their own movie and everyone else is just an extra. When I can step out of my own movie and shift my perspective, the annoyance drops away asI recognize that we are all human, all important, and all involved in this great migration together.
So if your holiday plans have you driving in traffic and stressing-out before you even arrive, make a vow this year that you will try something different. This year, you can say No to road-rage and stop dreading your drive. You have the power to change your driving experience by changing your attitude.
Trust me, the turkey will taste better and your uncle's old jokes will seem funnier if you master these techniques and learn to enjoy the ride!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone...I am so grateful to be able to share with you.
Featured contributor to BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World by Ed and Deb Shapiro. Forwards by HH Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman.