Can you achieve happiness when driving?
As you will know, I am attempting to become happy by being generous. One of the first ideas I suggested towards achieving this was to let people pull out of junctions ahead of you and allowing them to pull into your lane.
As I wrote the post I was convinced this would be an easy win. Let people out? Let people in? Absolutely a walk in the park! Easy! However! No, it is not.
There are a couple of issues:
On day one of my trial (yes, this challenge has become known as the trial because it’s much harder than I expected), I called into a Garden Centre with the children after school. When we leave the Centre, we need to turn right onto a busy A road. (For those who know Ashford, it was Bybrook Barn). This is always a busy road and often you have to rely on someone turning in to Bybrook Barn so you can move ahead.
After 20 minutes, a car indicated to turn right into the Centre and this created a much desired break in the traffic. So, with a cheer, we pulled out across the first lane (which was clear) then just as we went to turn right, the person had indicated suddenly change their mind. I hoped he was trying to achieve happiness too and would still let us out but he decided that a few choice words, sounds of the horn and hand signals were more appropriate.
So I then was sat across a busy road with children in the car and everyone was in a rush. Everyone avoided eye contact, my car became invisible and it was a white van driver who actually allowed me to join the flow of traffic.
The story does not end there.
At the next junction, the lane splits into two with a right turn filter. I sat in the lane to go straight ahead and then noticed someone trying to get my attention. The man who had made hand signals earlier was now in the wrong lane and wanted me to let him in.
Now, of course, practising generosity, I knew I should let him in as this would, in theory, make me feel better. However, in the real world, I am sure even the Dalai Lama would have taken the same action as me. I smiled sweetly and then ignored him as I pulled away and listened with joy as my passenger described the stream of traffic behind me flowing smoothly without anyone stopping to let this guy in.
Should I have been the bigger person? Probably. Would that have made me feel happy? Not bloody likely! Sadly, I have to confess that having the miserable man sit in the wrong lane, not being able to move over and experiencing Karma made me much happier than being generous
No thank you or acknowledgement:
Letting people out of a junction is easy and does make you feel better but if these people don’t acknowledge you to say thanks, well that creates a lot of unhappiness. I have lost count of the number of people I have let out at junctions or in to the flow of traffic, only for them not to acknowledge this is in some way. I appreciate that on some occasions, it is difficult as pulling out a junction requires steering, changing gear, etc – however, once you’re sorted, just pop a hand up to say thanks. It takes two seconds.
I let one guy out at a supermarket petrol station. He drove out without any acknowledgement or thanks, and then sat in front of me at the next set of lights revving his engine at the Learner driver ahead of him. These sort of people make this challenge very very difficult.
Is this helping me to achieve happiness?
I think, for the vast majority of time, it actually does help. I feel good letting people in, if it’s safe to do so, and I feel good when they acknowledge it. We both have a nicer experience.
However, as with everything in life, the few bad apples ruin it for many of us. So it’s a mixed experience. I know you are not supposed to give to receive but I was raised to have manners, to say please and thank you, and it’s something I try to ensure that my kids know the value of manners. Bad manners really infuriate me. So perhaps I will aim to do this when I am alone in the car so I can say a few choice words when I need to.