The Powerful Formula for Staying Calm – Driving Gives Us Plenty of Opportunities to Practice

 In Better Life, Focusing on the positive, Negative emotions

If we’re willing to put in a little effort for more happiness and less stress, life gives us plenty of opportunities to practice. A very powerful formula that I’ve been learning and using is –

Pause – Notice – Choose

The other day I was in the left lane on the Interstate, passing a car when another driver came up behind me and started flashing his headlights. I knew what this meant, Get out of my way! I’m in a hurry and you’re going too slow! I immediately thought, What a jerk and obnoxious driver! As he passed me, I noticed his license plates were from out-of-state. Of course! I thought. 

But then I got curious. How interesting that I was having this reaction and these thoughts. What a great example of my status being triggered. I almost laughed. I also noticed how I started judging the other person, even though I knew almost nothing about them. I was able to remind myself that this reaction was normal but by pausing and noticing, it gave me the power to choose what I wanted to do and think in the next moment.

Pause – In that moment, when you feel you’ve been triggered, your emotions are rising, and the negativity is building, the first step is to pause.

Notice – If we can pause, we have the opportunity to notice our reaction. How are we feeling physically and emotionally? Is this a helpful reaction?

Choose – Now we have given ourselves the power to choose. What response would provide the most benefit and value for ourselves and others in this situation? Think long term and not just about immediate satisfaction.

I’ve been intentional about using this formula, and it’s made a big difference for me. I still have a long way to go, but progress, like on the Interstate, is worth the practice. Give it a try for yourself. I guarantee life will give you opportunities to use it almost every day. 

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