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Un-Stuck in Traffic: How to Bring Joy to Life’s Otherwise Annoying Moments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve all been there, stuck in a heap of bumper-to-bumper traffic seemingly going nowhere, perhaps for hours. Some of you may even experience this on a daily basis during your commutes to and from work. In that case, there’s really no escaping this necessary evil and unfortunately being stuck in traffic is a huge cause of stress, anxiety, even divorce (yes, really! – according to a Swedish study), but WHY is that? And does it really have to be so dang unnerving?

While not often seen as the most joyful of times, it’s (long) moments like these in life that can often teach us so much, about life, other people and most importantly ourselves, if we only know to stop and look. A simple shift in attitude is really all it takes and we all have this ability to choose how we react in ANY given situation. I know, easier said than done, right?

When you’re potentially going on 4 hours of sleep due to a crying baby that kept you awake most of the night, or your day started off with you tripping over the rug, spilling your morning coffee all over yourself, and landing face-first on the cat, I get that it can be challenging to put on a smiling face. But the fact remains, you CAN do it, and it forever remains your choice in any given moment whether to stay in mood reactive to what happened to you previously, or to start fresh in this moment…or in this one…or this one. That is the beauty (and purpose, in my opinion) of free will.

I think we are all in this subconscious belief that time is our relentless enemy that is always racing against us, stealing moments of our lives away. And this in turn causes us to be somewhat anxious and to hurry along; eager to squeeze the most we can out of every single day, which actually lets these moments pass through our awareness with little to no attention at all. We think we are doing our best to manage our time, but my friend, time is but an illusion.

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” – Alan W. Watts

When we take into account that there is only ever NOW and that life is made up of nothing but a bunch of “nows “ instead of “back then’s” and “will be’s”, a whole new perspective opens up. It becomes easier for us to let go of what was and what we foresee and hope will come to pass in our lives and to just be present. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “when you are depressed, you are living in the past and when you are anxious you are living in the future”. This couldn’t be truer for when we allow the mind to dwell on moments of the past, (memories) they cause within us a sense of longing or loss if we hold too tightly. This is not to say that thinking back to those sunny days of your childhood laying in the grass watching the clouds pass overhead is depressing, but rather if we constantly long for things that we no longer have, such as possessions, people, or pets, etc. this can definitely cause us to become depressed. It is healthy to learn to let things go…let them live on in your heart, and not stake claim in and rule over your mind.

The same is true when we dwell too much in the future and worry ourselves with visions of old age where we are unable to walk or care for ourselves, or perhaps an economic collapse we feel is eminent. If we keep these visions in our present hearts, they will leave us always feeling like our peace and ability to relax is just out of touch; just out of reach. We can’t relax, because “this” or “that” is going to happen…eventually. Oh, the stories we tell ourselves. And while it might even be justified, or can be statistically proven to be overdue to occur any day now, can you see how this is often what keeps many of us awake at night? What am I going to do? Am I well enough prepared? How will I pay that bill? How will I ever attract the person of my dreams? When we learn to surrender (not to naïve passivity, of course), but to a full-blown trust in your importance in this Universe and a knowing that when you allow yourself the freedom to truly be FREE in this moment and in every moment, then you will come to find that the joy of mere conscious presence will undoubtedly follow you into each and every moment as well. There is no other way.

And this is the secret of dealing with being stuck in traffic and any other “annoying” situation where you feel like you’d rather be anywhere but there, whether you find yourself in it once a year or twice a day. It’s a matter of you choosing how valuable you see yourself; it truly is. Are you deserving of suffering through an agonizing hour of staring at the same damn bumper? Getting flipped off and yelled at by that ever so impatient woman who nearly caused an accident trying to merge into your lane? Being a victim to your emotion and thus reacting in anger by in turn cutting her off once traffic starts moving? Do you see the games at play here? We all just want to be seen, be heard, be noticed, be valued, and know we matter and are important; whether it’s behind a wall or behind the wheel.

And if we all just took one precious moment to tell ourselves rather than expecting the world to SHOW us…to know within ourselves that of course we matter, of course we are deserving to feel joy, to be at peace, to notice the beautiful sunrise coming up over the horizon, to smile as you hear the man next to you belting out the Eagles’ “Take It Easy”, to feel the warm fuzzies as you see sleeping twins snuggled in car seats in the mini-van behind you, to feel freedom as you watch a flock of geese travel overhead…then we’d start CHOOSING to put our attention on such things, rather than the fact of how bad traffic “absolutely sucks”.

Beauty is everywhere…even in 2 hours of traffic. Joy is always there, waiting to be felt. Love is constantly awaiting YOUR gentle embrace. And connection to humanity; what could ultimately prevent all road-rage for the rest of eternity (yes, I am totally a former road-rager myself, believe it or not!), is there…RIGHT there is this moment uniting us all. We just have to stop, breathe, and choose to acknowledge it. Make it a daily choice as you do with your outfit or morning latte and we’re all on a track to creating traffic Zen! OK, maybe I’m reaching a bit, but as with all things, when being kind to yourself (which is what this really is if you think about it) becomes a habit over time, and once you get the hang of it, you will refuse to let it go. And soon enough you just might be THAT guy belting “Take It Easy”…and you just might make someone else smile who landed face-first on their cat that day. 🙂

 

TamaraRantTamara Rant is a Co-Editor of CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. Connect with Tamara on Facebook by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.




Misguided By Medusa: How Facing Our Fears Dis-empowers Them (Not You)

We’ve all heard the Greek Mythology story of Medusa; the woman with hair of snakes whose alluring gaze turns everything to stone. But underneath the myth lies a much more compelling realization of what Medusa represents in our waking lives; unity. It might be hard to see at first (no pun intended), but Medusa embodies the femme fatale as well as the monster, beauty as well as the beast and she attracts as much as she repels. And this has always made me think of a particular emotion, one that can often just as easily trigger us to run and hide as much as it does to catapult us forward to take a leap of faith. What emotion am I talking about here? Well, fear of course.

I have always thought fear to be a double-edged sword of an emotion. If we sit with it long enough, it consumes us, becomes heavier with each passing second as it drags us down into such a low vibration that we can become paranoid, lethargic, self-conscious, and end up living our lives full of doubt, stress and anxiety. But on the other hand, who doesn’t love a good scary movie or perhaps the excitement of paragliding, and my personal favorite…falling in love. The latter can ultimately bring us joy by following through, and push us to try new things by feeding us a sense of encouragement, passion and purpose; but they are also pretty intimidating in and of themselves. So, what determines how we react to and view fear? It’s all a matter of perspective; how we choose to SEE it.

The lesson we can take from Medusa’s story is to avoid looking directly at the big scary monster, because if we do, she will literally stop us in our tracks for an eternity. We will be helpless victims of our own insatiable curiosity and misunderstood egos (which can actually be compasses of guiding light if we let them be). The ego is there to show us all the things within ourselves that need attention and healing. It’s only when we inflate them do our egos lead us to live the proverbial life of a stone figure stuck in our ways.

I think that we’ve all been a bit misguided by this lesson, because once we muster up the courage to stop running (either literally or simply in our own minds) and actually face our fears, we are taking the first vital step to dissolving their power over us. Fear instills a sense in us that our world is untrusting, unfriendly and threatening, but if we quiet the mind and the stories we tell ourselves, we just might see that the monster is not so frightening after all. And I think that is the best place to start…breathe; quiet the mind, and just LOOK! 🙂

Some helpful tips I use in my own life to face fear are:

  1. First, be kind to yourself. Don’t tell yourself that your fear is dumb or stupid or put yourself down for it. We are all a work in progress and the fact you are even willing to try and face your fear takes a lot of courage, so give yourself a pat on the back for it!
  1. List out particular things about a situation that are causing you feelings of fear or hesitation and see where they are coming from. What I call “warnings” from the gut or heart may actually be good fears trying to tell you to steer clear of danger, or negative situations that would not best serve you. As opposed to “mind fears” that are often drummed up by the subconscious and old programming, stemming from outdated beliefs that we are not good enough, not worthy, etc. Learn to discern! 🙂 If it seems to be an ongoing issue, it’s a great idea to keep a journal so you can go back and see how your thoughts and feelings have changed over time. I often find many solutions hidden in my own writing, and sometimes it is only a matter of fitting the pieces together to find the solution. Also, sometimes just the act of writing itself can be a great outlet and way to release stress and just get things out.
  1. Come up with a few ideas that you could try to get you closer to facing your fear. If you are afraid of spiders for instance, start watching shows on tarantulas, check out a few library books or watch videos on YouTube about spiders. Next, try going to a local pet store and look at spiders through the glass aquariums. Take note of how you are feeling, and the more conscious you are of your feelings when you are consciously facing your fears, you will bear witness to your own growth and success. And finally when you feel ready, ask a clerk to take one out so you can get a better look. If you feel ready, try to have the clerk place one in the palm of your hand.

Even if you never reach that final step, it is guaranteed that with all of this exposure, you will over time greatly reduce your fear of spiders (or any fear) simply by facing it head on, rather than giving it power, letting it control you and remaining reactive to it. Take small steps and push yourself forward to always do the next best thing, but not too hard and not too fast. Listen to your gut and your heart as they will always know what you are ready for, and let that be enough. Be kind to yourself throughout the process and you will come to find that once you face one fear, the next time you choose to consciously face another, you will be that much more prepared to do so, and this goes for all areas of our lives.

The key to keeping fear at bay is ultimately living in the present moment. One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned and keep close to my heart came from the following quote by the great philosopher and poet of ancient China, Lao Tzu:

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

If we allow our conscious mind to let go of the reigns and stop paying attention, even if only for a moment, then our subconscious minds take over. This is not superstition, but our ingrained biology. Our society has not taught us to use our conscious minds the way it was intended, and so we are conditioned to live in the subconscious mind of memories and habits. But once we become aware of this fact, we are free to develop our conscious awareness, which in itself reduces fear, as when one is at peace within oneself and environment, one cannot help but feel loved.

 

TamaraRant

Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor of CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. Connect with Tamara on Facebook by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com