5 things that driving changed about me

Take a moment to pause and think – What has driving taught you? Did it make you a better person or did it bring out the worst in you?

Once we get behind the wheel, we immediately have a huge responsibility over us. We have to be responsible for our own safety, our passengers’ safety and also the safety of pedestrians and other motorists. Some tend to take this responsibility lightly, such as drinking and driving, whilst others do not comprehend the role each of us holds on the road.

For me, driving initially made me an angrier person but over time, I’ve actually become more patient and more accepting of unfavourable circumstances. Here are five things that driving changed about me – for the better:

1) Being in better control of my emotions

I often joke about how driving has helped to expand my vocabulary of expletives. Swear words hang precariously at the edge of my lip when I am at the wheel and I am quick to let them loose once I run into an inconsiderate act on the road. Because I spend so much time on the roads at the wheel, I brought this habit of cursing in swear words to my daily way of conversation! Fortunately, I’ve since corrected this habit and learnt how to control my emotions better. This also brings me to my next point.

2) Becoming more accepting of unfavourable circumstances

We all know that things don’t always go our way and on the roads we run into the worst kind of drivers. Drivers who cut into your lane without warning, refuse to let you change lanes, take their time to move off from a stoplight– the list goes on.

There are times when we really feel like killing somebody, especially when someone steals your lot after you have been waiting for a while in the car park and you are late for an important appointment. But after 10 years of driving, I’ve learnt to become more patient and that traffic delays, congestions, road works, rude drivers and mindless pedestrians are all part and parcel of the driver’s life. Live with it.

3) Fine-tuning the art of multi-tasking

Eyes on the road, ears on the music, hand on the wheel, mind on work and the other hand holding your coffee or trying to sneak a text on the phone – this is an all-too-familiar situation. If you haven’t realised, that’s A LOT of things you are trying to do at the same time. While women are said to be more natural at multi-tasking, driving is probably one of the best situations that help men fine-tune their multi-tasking skills too.

4) Understanding the power of being present

You know how we are sometimes able to physically be at one place but yet not be there fully in presence? I caught myself doing that while driving before and it is pretty scary. I had a really long day out and both my mind and body were exhausted, but instead of putting more effort into concentrating on the road, I occupied my mind with some work issue.

At that point, I actually felt like I was outside of my body and that I was watching myself drive. Then I nearly got into a collision and that shock shook me up, teaching me an important lesson. It is not just about being there to drive the vehicle, but it is also about being in that moment and staying alert. This also applies to life in general, where you should make moments count.

5) Taking care of my car like taking care of my body

A car may just be a non-living object, but that doesn’t mean you take care of it any less than you take care of yourself. It needs to be washed just like how you need to shower (of course not as frequent), it should not be given inferior stuff like bad grade of fuel as you wouldn’t eat bad food too, it must be serviced regularly just like how you go for medical check-ups.

Don’t wait until the car breaks down on you and you start swearing at it; exactly like how you should ensure you get enough rest so that you don’t fall ill and silently curse the doctor for giving you horrid-tasting medication.

*This was first published in Wheels Asia.