What if you stopped arguing with life? What if, instead of getting frustrated at a bad driver on the road, you demonstrated your spiritual awareness by recognizing your own resistance to life? Did you really think there were no unaware drivers out there? Of course you didn’t. But still you argue, blaming your mood on the other drivers rather than on your own lack of awareness about your ego’s resistance to reality.
You’ve heard of Buddhist Acceptance. Okay. Then accept bad drivers. The next time you see one, don’t use your mental energy to offer resistance to the reality of unaware drivers. Don’t have a big long discussion with yourself about what they should have done. Instead, try singing to the song that’s on the stereo instead. Or check your speedometer. Or your mirrors. Or look further ahead. Focus anywhere but on the idea of that bad driver (or your phone). In short: drive. Drive your car. With your skills. Stop shouting at the ocean for giving you the wrong waves.
Everyone can experience tension for a period. But if you’re consistently angry or frustrated behind the wheel, then there will be no comfort until you accept that you are your problem, not the other drivers. Are you humble enough for that?
Imagine letting go of that battle. Imagine not saying those words, building those narratives, telling yourself those stories…. Imagine not getting the chemistry that goes with an angry story like that.
Here’s how it works: on the drive home you get upset at everything you perceive to have been stupid. Ignoring the fact that you might not have had all of the facts, the bottom line is that your angry thoughts lead to angry chemistry in your brain. This will tense muscles, increase heart-rate, and it’ll make that chemical easy to stay on because you’re already on it. Then you get home to your family.
Maybe your kid dropped his bike on the driveway when he leaped off it to help his mother with some toppling groceries just a moment ago. But you don’t bother to find out that you’ve raised a helpful son. You consider the single clue with your already chemically tipped brain, and you go instead with a blame-filled narrative that continues your flow of angry chemistry. And making things worse, if someone else kindly jumps in to offer a defence for the wrongly-accused, they won’t be seen as bravely doing the right thing, they’ll be angrily seen as supporting bad behaviour. And all of this negativity with your family will be instigated by events in the car on the way home. Events that, under different brain chemistry, would result in no reaction at all.
You don’t just react to things. You think about things. You compare them to an ideal you were taught. Amazingly, if you don’t get your ideal, you get upset. (Egos are childish that way.) How you get upset is through those narratives about how they should have driven. Those are crazy narratives. Because of course there are lots of unaware drivers that make crazy mistakes. Some just found out they have cancer. Others have to pee. Some are lost. Some were taught poorly. Bottom line, accept that they exist, drive with suitable awareness, and stop arguing with yourself. Save your consciousness for the present moment and what’s enjoyable about it. Because when you’re in a super good mood, you don’t even notice unaware drivers.
Your spirit is old. Your ego is childish. Get it out of the driver’s seat and leave your spirit in charge. Your spirit doesn’t even think birth and death are a big deal. It can easily and gracefully glide past a driver making an illegal left turn.
Your chemistry is yours. Steer your consciousness accordingly. Now go prove you’re serious about this spirituality thing by actually calming your driving down. Thanks. 😉
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.