It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I was going for a walk with my dog. My dog likes to walk a certain route, which means we have to cross a road at a stoplight. I walked up to the traffic lights, pressed the button so that we could cross through the crosswalk, and the light changed within a few seconds. As I started to cross, a motorcycle pulled up and the guy was mumbling something. I listened and heard him say, “Why would you press the button? On a Sunday morning?” I turned towards him and said, “I pressed the button because this a crosswalk and I wanted to cross the road in a legal way regardless of the day.” The guy didn’t say anything back to me, but he was obviously not happy. He had to sit and wait for a full minute before he could continue on with his Sunday morning. It must have been hell for him.
That crosswalk didn’t use to have lights. I would stand there for a long time before a car would stop so I could cross. And when a car did stop, there was often another car coming up behind it in the next lane and the driver was not aware someone was crossing. I can’t count the amount of times that I almost got hit. I was relieved when they put the lights in – even as a driver. I no longer had to worry about someone running out in the crosswalk. But, I guess some people don’t like it.
It’s all about perception. If you view a stoplight as something that is hurting your life in some way then of course you are going to be pissed off that it turns red. But, if you view it in a more positive way, then it won’t seem so bad.
Do you want to be more positive at stoplights, but you are not sure where to start? Following are 10 things you can do at a stoplight that will help you avoid being angry and make your minute or two much less stressful.
1. Take Some Time To People Watch
Too often when we are driving we get lost in our own little world. It doesn’t matter that there are people walking past us and driving past us, we feel like we are the only ones on the road. But, in reality, we are all sharing the road and it’s not just about us. It’s about all of us.
Being stopped for a few minutes gives you a chance to look around and notice the people walking and driving. It helps you get out of your mind, your worries, and your anger – and it opens up your awareness to the people around you.
If someone is walking in the crosswalk, try to figure out where they are going, how they are feeling, or what they are thinking. If they have a dog, take the time to notice the pure happiness the dog has for getting out and being alive!
Look in the car next to you and take a glance at the person it! Yes, it’s not just a car! It holds a person who has hopes, dreams, and worries too. A stoplight offers you a chance to see that you are not alone in this world, even if you think you are, so take the time to notice the other people around.
2. Be Grateful That You CAN Stop At A Stoplight
The guy on the motorbike had a really nice bike. He obviously paid a lot for it. He could afford insurance and gas, which a lot of people can’t. And he had the balance and cognitive skills to drive a motorbike – or a vehicle for that matter, which some people have never had or don’t have anymore.
If you are at a stoplight, that means you have a vehicle that works and the money to keep it running on the road! You have your license and you haven’t had it taken away from you. That’s something to be grateful for! Do you know how many seniors would love to get their license (and their freedom) back?
3. Notice The Beauty Around You
If you are not in the mood to people watch, then take some time to notice the beauty around you. Whether you see natural things, such as trees or grass, or manmade things, such as buildings or cars, all of the things around you were created by something or someone and they are all beautiful in some way. You will feel much better about life when you take the time to appreciate things in this way.
4. Roll Down Your Window
One thing you learn if you have dogs is that a car ride with the windows down is one of the most magical and pleasurable moments. You get to smell the world around you, hear what’s going on, and feel the wind, sun or rain on your face.
Most of us drive with the air conditioning or the heater on and keep our windows rolled up. When you stop at a stoplight, roll down your window and feel the wind or sun on your skin. Notice the sounds that you couldn’t hear with your window rolled up and take some time to appreciate them. Then, if you are feeling really adventurous, keep your window down when the stoplight changes from red to green!
And if you are on a motorbike, take the time to really be present in nature. You don’t have to focus on driving right now, so enjoy the feelings that encouraged you to get a motorbike in the first place.
5. Sing And Dance
Want to give someone something to talk about? Sing and dance to your favorite song. You might brighten up someone’s day. You might make them laugh. You might even make them thankful that they are not in the car with you. Whatever it is, you could have an impact on their day that lasts for the rest of it. If they were feeling down, angry, or stressed out, you may be helping them get unstuck from the negative thoughts they were focused on. In that case, you would be a godsend for someone who just wants to be happier. Don’t you want to be that?
6. Flirt With The Person Next To You
If you are not comfortable singing and dancing, then make someone feel good in another way. Let the person beside you or walking in front of you catch you looking at them with a little smile on your face. Let them get the hint that you think they are attractive or cute or whatever. They should feel good about themselves as they realize that out of all the things you could notice and pay attention to, you noticed them and are paying attention to them.
Don’t be creepy about this, though! There is a way to convey a message that you think they are cute without having to give a creepy stare and smile. It’s subtle, sincere, and quick. Do it the right way, and you will make them feel good. Do it the wrong way, and you will make them drive or run in the opposite direction!
7. Say Some Positive Affirmations
The benefits of positive affirmations are huge! They help you replace your negative beliefs with more positive ones, which can change your life in a powerful way!
For example, let’s say you are trying to lose weight, saying positive affirmations such as ‘I enjoy eating healthy food’ or ‘I enjoy getting out and exercising’ can help you change your mindset about the food you eat, the exercise you do, and the way you view health overall.
Make a game out of traffic lights and say a positive affirmation every time you hit a red light. This will be making really good use out of your time as you will be focused on creating a better and happier life for yourself!
8. Rest Your Eyes
Give your eyes a break! You are driving, concentrating on the road, keeping your eyes open for pedestrians, crossing animals, and stupid drivers – your eyes deserve a break! Stopping at a red light is a perfect time to close your eyes, rub them, and give them a fresh look on life so that you can drive safely and everyone around you can be safe as well!
9. Be Grateful You Are Alive!
You pull up to a stoplight and you are already late for a meeting. You could stress about this, or you could just be grateful that you are able to experience what being stopped at a stoplight and being late feels like.
One day, when you are sick and dying, you will never get the chance to experience a stoplight or a meeting again. I know that’s a depressing thought, but it is a reminder that you need to enjoy your life right now while you are able to – even the parts of life that don’t work with you – like stoplights.
10. Be Quiet
If you can’t be grateful, have fun, people watch, enjoy nature, flirt with people, or focus on anything positive, then at least don’t be a jerk. Don’t say something about someone loud enough so that they can hear it. Don’t give the person beside you a dirty look. Don’t honk at someone just so that they can see how annoyed you are with them. You don’t need to make someone else’s day worse just because you are pissed off that a light turned red and made you stop. Bonus: At least you won’t become angrier as you would if you were to vent or be rude.