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7 Ways to Make Commuting Suck Less

7 Ways to Make Commuting Suck Less

Commutting

    Commuting between work and home can be a frustrating and inefficient experience. But it does not have to be. There are many productive (and safe!) ways to make the most of your time while you’re behind the wheel. For example:

    Learn a new language

    Burn some CDs with language lessons (you can easily find them on the Internet, even for free!) and listen to them again and again. Repeat the phrases out loud. Burn some more when you feel the level has become too easy for you. You will be amazed at how quick you progress in a week of commuting.

    After doing this for several months, I filled out an online Italian language test and found out I already had an intermediary level… Without taking any formal lessons!

    Listen to podcasts

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    Subscribe to podcasts dealing with the subjects that interest you and listen while driving. This is a surefire way to always be up to date. Another hint: If you podcasts are spoken in the language you are trying to learn, you will advance much faster!

    “Read” books

    Reading while driving is surely lethal. But try audio books. If the book is interesting, chances are you won’t be bothered by traffic jams, you will even beg for some!

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    One example: I never could finish reading Don Quixote. Its old-fashioned Spanish made me fell asleep after a couple of pages. I felt so guilty. After all, that is THE book every Spanish speaker should have read! Then I tried the audio book. Not only was it easy to follow, it was even compelling! I listened to it during a round trip between Brussels and Paris I did one summer. The blue sky and the wheat fields made me feel it was ME who was riding thru La Mancha!

    “Take” courses

    Going to Harvard or Stanford may be expensive, but listening to their professors lecture while you drive is…free! Nowadays, most universities offer a number of free courses, from sciences to liberal arts. I have particularly appreciated a course about European history I downloaded from the Stanford website. And another funny coincidence: I was driving by Waterloo when the teacher spoke about Napoleon’s defeat!

    Listen to news

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    This is an obvious one, but worth mentioning. If you listen to the news 10 minutes a day while driving, you won’t need to browse the news websites while at home or work.

    Listen to music

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    This is another obvious one. But I include it after I heard –  in an Italian podcast, of course – about a study conducted by researchers from the University of Florence that found that listening to classical and other soft music for 30 minutes a day during one month can significantly reduce mild high blood pressure. Very convenient for those suffering from work or traffic-jam-related stress!

    Be Zen

    Ok. You are too upset/tired/worried to listen to anything. Then just be Zen. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the lotus position or close your eyes. That is not very wise on a highway. Just breathe in and out slowly. Don’t think about anything, just see around you. Feel the vibration of your car. Forget yesterday and tomorrow. Just live in the moment, even if the moment isn’t very exciting.

    I commute by car, but all these suggestions can be practiced on the train or on the metro. If someone else is controlling the driving, you can use your iPod, your laptop, or your tablet PC so you can add a visual component to any of the ideas above.

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

    More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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