The average American spends 25.4 minutes per way driving to and from work, that’s about 190 hours per year, accounting for vacation and holiday time. In areas like Southern California, that number goes up quite a bit. It can be seen as wasted time, the cost of working where you want to work and living where you want to live, or a scourge on your existence but I believe it can be so much more. This time is given to you as a little gift from the traffic Gods and you can do amazing things with it.
This 1-3 hours per day can be used to get educated or entertained or even enlightened. If you are in school you can use this precious time to have your textbooks read to you, do additional reading on the subject, or learn something new and exciting to wake your brain up. There are tons of ways to be entertained, and enlightened as well. I never had much of a commute. I always considered myself lucky; it took six minutes to get to work and ten to return (traffic -ugh). Well, now I have a bit of a commute, 30-45 minutes each way, but I’ll tell you. I’ve learned more in this past year and a half then I did in the 3 years before that. Aside from school learnings perhaps, or maybe even in addition to that.
So what shall you do with all this time?
Learn a Language
Now, I haven’t done this myself, but it is a pretty great idea. Not only will learning another language help you speak another language but it will wake up your brain and get different parts lighting up. I believe it helps us to see the world in a different way. To me language is expression of culture and world view. Through different languages you learn to see things differently. I love hearing the ins and outs of a particular language and what that means and how it is different than our current paradigm. Even if you are not aiming for fluency, it can just be fun. Try one that one of your friends or family speaks so you can practice.
Podcasts are absolutely awesome. I’ve loved learning and being entertained via this medium. There are so many quality podcasts that are interesting, educational and insightful. There are tons of niche podcasts and general ones. One tip a very smart teacher once told me was to expose myself every day to something out of my field of study or even interest. Now that I’m learning about biases this makes so much sense. It opens up your mind and gets you out of your comfort zone. And the thing about podcasts is that they are independent, not backed by monied interests so you get what you get. Anyhow, podcasts that I simply love are as follows:
The Bulletproof Executive – This is about everything you can do to optimize your performance and live a kick-ass life. It centers around optimal mental, emotional and physical health but it’s different than your run of the mill health and wellness podcast. It has real, actionable items and runs counter to the mainstream advice that is so often conflicting and fueled by interests that are not ours. I have definitely had major shifts while listening to nearly every one of Dave’s podcasts. The first time I was exposed to Dave was on Joe Rogan’s podcast, you can watch it here, or download it via iTunes. It was enlightening and entertaining. The confusing and contradicting views of health, wellness and human performance and happiness were challenged and were explained so clearly.I never was a Rogan fan, but I sure appreciated him here.
Underground Wellness – I haven’t listened to this in a while but it is an awesome resource to hear a variety of health and wellness folks talk about their specialities. I have listened to countless hours and I love the host, he is such a great guy and really gets to the heart of what you, the listener, would want to know. If you are experiencing any issues, do a search and I’m sure you can find an episode where he talks about that issue.
Miracle Thought – This is more on the spiritual side, Marianne Williamson’s Miracle Thought. There are a limited amount of episodes and they are each just a few minutes long. Marianne is talking about everyday life stuff and takes concepts from The Course in Miracles and gives us really profound advice. I loved listening to this. Even though it is from a while back – it is not outdated. If you don’t know who Marianne Williamson is, you will surely fall in love with her after listening to her speak. She is an amazing lady. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice or if you practice anything at all. If you are human, it is sure to resonate. If you are non-religous, don’t be thrown off by her talk of religious stuff, she is all encompassing. I believe she speaks in a way to relate to most people.
The Good Life Project – Host Jonathan Fields talks to a vast array of amazing people. His format is pretty regular. He talks about where they come from, how they got where they are and what they faced along the way. There are some powerful episodes with some powerful folks, and then there are folks you’ve never heard of but are so glad you came across. Jonathan does a great job of choosing extraordinary speakers.
HBR IdeaCast – If you are into business, current events, major trends, Harvard Business Reviews short podcasts do mini interviews with authors and other thought leaders about their latest books or articles and talk about what is shaping up in the world today. It is not limited to business matters, but expands across all fields. It is good stuff. I found some great authors through this avenue.
I am pretty sure most any book comes in audiobook format these days and there are tons of places to get them. There are so many books I want to read that are sitting on my shelf because of the time I have where I can just sit and read is limited. Obtaining the audiobook format is a great solution. I believe that a book can change your life, so going that extra mile to have a book read to you is totally worth it. You could be sitting in traffic, thinking your thoughts and wishing you were home, or you could be rediscovering your life’s purpose, understanding a subject that is a mystery to you, or listening to 50 Shades of Grey for the gazillionth time. Whatever floats your boat.
That’s All Folks
Remember that every moment is precious and in this day and age, that moment doesn’t need to be wasted. Let me be clear that I don’t believe that every moment should be occupied with something in order not to be considered wasted, that’s far from the truth as I see it. Only that the daily commute can become a source of happiness and meaning and not annoyance and bitterness. I hope you enjoy some of the suggestions! Please share anything else that you have found.