Drives Me Happy

Oct 15, 2017  |  By Jessica Little  |  

Commuting doesn’t have to be the torturous event depicted in the beginning of Office Space. I mean, in the five plus years of commuting an hour each way to work and school, I can still count the number of times I’ve been passed by an elderly person using a walker on one hand. Although it’s taboo to say, I actually enjoy my commute… but don’t quote me on that.

It all boils down to perspective. If you look at your drive to work and only see a wasted chunk of time you could spend doing something much more productive (hanging out with friends, exercising, meal prep, sitting on the couch and staring at a spot on the wall), then sure, it is the worst. However, I’m proposing that you view that time as an hour to do whatever car-friendly activities you want. Here are some examples of things I like to do to make my commute fun(ish):

Listen to music. “Wow, she is suggesting I listen to music in the car, what a unique perspective.” Seriously though, if you are like me and have a running list of new bands or CDs you want to check out, save them to your Spotify and dedicate some commute time to broadening your musical horizons. “Ever listened to that amazing freak folk band, Ant Parade?” Probably not, because I made them up, but just think of how cool you would be suggesting a band that obscure (but preferably real) to your hipster friends.

Not a fan of Spotify (why not? It’s awesome)? Some alternative streaming music options you might want to consider are Pandora, Amazon Music, or Apple Music.

Listening to podcasts. “Have I mentioned I like podcasts?” I started like any naïve dabbler in podcasting and quickly developed into a hardcore podcast super fan. Love comedy? True crime? Growing vegetables? Regardless of where your interests lie, everyone and their mom has a podcast these days, so odds are you will find one that you like pretty easily.

If you want some guidance, here are some good starting points:

  • If you like comedy, try anything on Earwolf. Some of my favorites are How Did This Get Made?, Spontaneanation, and Comedy Bang Bang!
  • If you are feeling adventurous (pun intended) check out The Adventure Zone. Trust me, it’s awesome.
  • Reply All is another great podcast that covers super interesting stories related to the internet, and the episodes are bite-sized so it’s perfect for commuting.
  • Unfortunately, if growing vegetables is your thing, I’ve got nothing for you. Sorry.

Listen to Audiobooks. Have you ever wanted to be incredibly well-read, but every time you open a book you fall asleep? Well, here is your solution: commute + audiobook + time = literary genius; and there is nothing quite like a David Sedaris book read to you by David Sedaris.

Pro Tip: Start with either a collection of short stories or a biography, because they usually have convenient stopping points.

Think. For this one you don’t have to use your ears unless you want to. Sometimes I just get in the car and think; maybe I’ll plan a project I want to work on at home, or daydream, or ponder existence. It doesn’t really matter, I just sort of let my mind go, and it can be surprisingly relaxing. Just don’t get buried so deeply in your own thoughts that you drift out of your lane, or worse, into an existential crisis.

Treat your commute as “you-time.” Sure, the available activities are limited by environment, limb availability, and traffic laws, but there are still quite a few meaningful things you can do while safely driving. It doesn’t have to be all road rage and cursing every time you get on the freeway.

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