We recently posted a very interesting Wall Street Journal article, “Secrets of the Happiest Commuters” by Sue Shellenbarger, simply because the title was so unique.  When have you ever seen the words happy and commute in the same sentence?  Usually we associate the word commute with aggravation, inconvenience and stress, not happiness.   Is it really possible to find happiness in commuting?

After reviewing some transportation statics I realized how important this article really is to our society’s well being.  There are over 128 million commuters in the US alone, over 75% commute alone in a car, and the average commute time is about 25 minutes one way.  This comes to about 15 days spent during the year commuting.  That’s longer than most vacations!

Whether I’m going to work, running errands, or taking the kids to ballet, I’m determined not to let those 15 days be wasted by stress and aggravation.  How can I make this time more productive and joyful?  Here’s what I got when I asked some of my favorite people how they make the most of their commute:

  • Learn a new language with audio lessons.
  • Enjoy a book or podcast.
  • Have a real conversation with members of my family that doesn’t involve texting, social media or Post-it notes.
  • Enjoy some music.
  • Take the time to take in the sunsets, sunrises or the scenery off the beaten path.
  • Meditate or pray.
  • People watch at traffic lights or gridlock.
  • And here’s one I didn’t think of…enjoy the silence!

Between the people, the gadgets, and the never-ending social media alerts and 24-hour news, the quest for quiet in the modern world we live in can seem more difficult than finding a solution for the national debt crisis.   Living in a highly productive society such as the United States, we find it difficult to acknowledge our need for silence or solitude.  We feel selfish or believe time for that will come in other seasons of life, but not now.  But maybe, it’s those times when quiet is hardest to find when we really need it the most.  It’s in the quiet time that we can think clearly and have time for self-reflection.  If we quiet the mind before we go home or head to the office could we be a better boss, employee, mother, father, daughter, or friend?  It’s definitely worth trying.

If we view our commute as our one time of the day to turn off all the noise, maybe it won’t seem so bad after all.

Source: “Secrets of the Happiest Commuters” by Sue Shellenbarger

Published on October 8,2013


Statistic Verification:

Source: National Household Travel Survey, US Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Research Date: 8-23-2012