Driving against traffic

I am standing in line at Starbucks, in line for the bathroom. There are two bathrooms and I am the only one in line. A girl approaches me and quickly looks irritated, taking in the situation. “Line up?” she asks, slightly rolling her eyes. I nod and smile at her. It’s not that bad when there is only one person ahead of you to use the bathroom. She shrugs and reaches into her purse to pull out her phone. Immediately she is texting.

I resist the urge to do the same, but also know that my husband is currently is using my phone. I don’t have my phone within reach. I wonder about how easily we are distracted, or feel the need to be distracted, as I stand in line. For those two minutes I try to relax, to breathe and to remember there is nothing else I need to do right now, nothing that needs to be done right in that minute.

there's no need to worry this is just a vacation

I hope there is not a test associated with this. (Photo credit: Robert Bruce Murray III // Sort Of Natural)

I spend a lot of my time worrying and planning what to do next. With kids and work and life there is a schedule of how we do things. I find I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to do the next thing, but also stressing about it in anticipation. On vacation, I find that six o’clock can roll around and I am barely aware of it. At home, this is my witching hour: the kids need to be fed before they implode, homework needs to be done, I need to get out and run (if I haven’t already), and I am already thinking about lunches for the next day and what the morning will bring.

These thoughts flash through my mind as I am standing in line for the Starbuck’s bathroom and I realize that we can make changes in our lives for ourselves. We don’t need to be on our phones all the time to distract ourselves.  I am as much a victim of this as anyone, but I realize I have trained myself to do this. I have taught myself that at every spare minute I will check my phone/email/texts to fill in the time. I am not multi-tasking, I am creating a task as I do this.

I think that when you are out of your routine it’s the easiest and best time to make changes in your life. Nothing dramatic or drastic, but a shift or change in approach can work wonders to bring back with you to your everyday. For me, I realize that I don’t look at things very positively most of the time.  Never mind everyone else, I could be more positive with myself for starters.

I was remembering today a friend who had decided to do a 10km walk to raise money for a charity. This was a few years ago, and I remember thinking that 10km was extraordinarily far and that walking it would probably take 4-5 hours, minimum. Today, in a shift of perspective, I can run 10km as a good, easy run before breakfast. I think it’s important to acknowledge how far we have come, regardless of how long it has taken to get us there. The point is, we *have* changed. We have chosen and we have improved ourselves.

Left side driving

Left side driving is not usual for North America!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t need a mantra to recite to remind myself to be a certain way. I think it’s about just making a conscious decision as often as possible to see things a little differently. After a while, that small decision can become a habit.  I can get easily frustrated and irritated, but maybe I don’t have to, or have to as easily. It’s like I made a decision to drive a little differently, like being in another country and driving on the other side of the road. Maybe it’s just time for me to drive against traffic.

*What would you like to change about how you view things? What attitude shift might make your life easier?

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12 thoughts on “Driving against traffic

  1. Great post. We do always seem to need to be doing something. I think that is why people are always on the phone. Who are they talking to anyway? What did they do before they had a phone to be in constant contact with everyone.

    It seems many of us, including me, need to be doing something all the time because we do not want to have time to be still, in the moment and with our thoughts. It seems like a bad habit and I’m not sure what we are trying to avoid by staying distracted.

    I like your thoughts on making a conscious decision to change. Making a decision is the first step in the change process. Until we recognize something that we want to, or that needs to be changed, we are oblivious and adrift.

    Life is all about choices. We just have to make them.

    • If we can make choices we can also reflect on how many strange choices we have made by default. I often pull out my phone as a reaction to seeing others on their phones, but I have no one I *need* to talk to in that instant.
      Making a conscious decision to just shift my thinking a little may give me a bit more space in my life as well. Not everything needs to be so distracted and “busy.”
      Thanks for your comments!

  2. We have been conditioned to be perpetually busy…or we allow ourselves to feel guilty when we’re not. The other day as I was bustling around the kitchen picking up this and wiping that, my eldest daughter said “Mama, why don’t you just sit and read a magazine? You’re always doing something”. True. I don’t don’t know why we feel we need to fill every minute. I’m going to stop and smell a rose today.

    • It’s true we are always busy, even if we are not productive. Having a nap on the weekend is like a guilty sin, as though I should be ‘doing’ something instead.
      I’m trying to learn to s-l-o-w down in the moments where I can.

  3. We went through this same shift in consciousness during our last vacation. After the first few days of trying to cram in a bunch of activities, we realized we needed to s-l-o-w down and enjoy ourselves. We wondered why we were always so busy. Then we realized we were doing it to ourselves and were the creators of all that busy-ness.

    Being on vacation and breaking the routine is like a shock to the system, and we start to question the way we live 99% of the time. Unfortunately, we eventually tend to slide right back into that rut of busy-ness once the vacation glow wears off.

    • Being out / away from routine makes changing things easier. However, the big conscious effort has to be on keeping that shift and change when you go back to your usual. That’s where you see how well you’ve succeeded.
      Being mindful is useful to even notice if you are slipping back into routines. At least if you are aware of it you can take one extra breath before you continue on your day. Over time, that may be a lot of breaths and change one thing. 🙂

  4. Thought-provoking post. I think the best way to avoid getting entrenched in old routines is by doing one thing differently each day in my life. That little 1% change keeps me from becoming stagnant but doesn’t overwhelm or disrupt the things I need to have in place as the schedule-keeper, chauffeur, game runner at our house. Thanks for the thinking piece. 🙂

    • I think that 1% change can make a 99% difference if we can just stick to it. It doesn’t have to be dramatic and upset the balance of regular life, but just enough that it gives us a reprieve in our day, and in a small way rejuvenates us by the change.
      Thanks for your comments!

      • Agreed. Routines should be something we consciously develop and manage to get more things done, or all of the thing we need to get done. By being conscious of our routines we can make them work for us.
        A habit on the other hand develops unconsciously and we don’t really have control over them unless we become aware of them. Has anyone ever told you about something you do all the time but were unaware of? I think a habit can be turned into a routine if we become aware of it and bend it to our own purposes instead of being ruled by it. Just my 2 cents.

    • Starting small makes the changes not seem so overwhelming, and it’s much easier to commit to something that we can see as attainable. I think long-term goals are also important – smaller achievements along the way may sometimes seem more realistic.
      I’ll go read your post now. 🙂

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