Compassionate Driving

journal lifestyle mindfulness serafina slowing down Jul 12, 2023

You are running late. You jump into the car, stressed and anxious. You have to make the appointment on time. You leave the driveway, and it’s looking good. You turn another corner, and the road is blocked. Someone is trying to park and taking their time. There’s five cars in front of you, and the first in line is not overtaking. Everything comes to a halt. You are checking your watch again and again. Maybe at this point you’ve let out a stressful sigh or said, “Come on!”. Maybe your fuming internally. “Why can’t people drive!” Once you get to the motorway, you cut someone off to get ahead. The extra seconds matter! They person honks at you. Your stress level peaks. Is it worth it?

Almost anybody who has ever driven a car or has been a passenger has experienced some version of road rage. Being in a car can make us feel disconnected from others. We are in our private capsule that's closed off, and no one can get close to us. It can change kind people into vicious, yelling monsters.

Sometimes complaints and outrage might be justified, but overall I think a little reminder to practice compassionate driving is a great idea. I’ve been working on this myself for a couple of months, and it is wonderful to be able to keep calm in situations that might have previously aggravated me.

Here is what I did:

Firstly, I try to imagine that the other drivers are my close friends or family members. Maybe they are having a stressful day or rushing to a doctors appointment which causes them to cut me off or chase me on the motorway. Maybe they are rushing to meet a friend in need. Or maybe, they are just having a bad day. Maybe they are unfocused because someone stressed them out at work. Or they are tired because a problem kept them up half the night and that’s why they can’t park. Maybe they are racing to pick up their children from school on time after a long day of work.

So if the driver, who is currently driving me up the wall, were a friend or family member, would I react the same? Would I get all worked up? Probably not. Maybe I would purposefully let them in in front of me. Or I would have more patience while they are parking.

I highly encourage you to try this out. Get specific and put someone you care about in the others drivers seat. It’s amazing how it can change your behavior.

Another thing I like to do is to remember days and moments where my driving hasn’t been at its best. We are not perfect, and I’ve definitely cut people off before. Sometimes it wasn’t on purpose, and sometimes I might have been in my own little road rage moment that I’m not proud of. I’ve been tired before and not realized that the stop light has turned from red to green and have kept others waiting. I’ve honked at someone accidentally because I didn’t realize you could go both straight and left in a lane, and the person in front wanted to go straight, and I wanted to go left. I clearly didn’t get it that day. So we live, and we learn.

If it were me in the other car that I’m currently upset with, I would highly appreciate some compassion and patience. Thank you for not honking at me or giving me a mean glare. By showing kindness to others, you are also showing it to yourself.

And finally, I try to de-stress my drives however I can. Leaving 5 to 10 minutes early, is always a great idea. Taking deep breaths and slowing down internally has worked. Accepting the way things are rolling that day. If I am late, so be it. Compassion towards the self is great. Always.

If we can get more people to practice compassionate driving, I think we will have fewer accidents and definitely less stress. This is good for you, for those you care about, and everyone else who gets on the road.

Happy driving!



If it’s possible for you I highly recommend taking public transport, walking, or cycling as an alternative to driving. It’s the eco friendlier way to get around AND these are also great places and moments to practice compassion towards others and in turn staying more peaceful within yourself.


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