Three out of four Australian drivers admit to being quite beastly when they get behind the wheel of a car.
They can go from mild mannered to road rage in moments, most commonly, according to CARSGUIDE.com.au survey, because of tailgating, last minute lane changes and inconsiderate driving.
It’s enough to make the blood boil, leading to rude gestures and foul language. And it is dangerous: stress levels aside, apparently victims or perpetrators of driver aggression are 158 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
A common frustration that regularly got under my skin in the past was getting stuck in gridlock with red lights. My stomach would knot up, I’d be looking at my watch every five seconds, tapping my fingers impatiently – more so if the car in front of me belatedly indicated right at an intersection, crossing against traffic.
Not now. No. I use a laughter yoga technique called ‘red light, green light’.
When at a red light, I laugh out loud. Not because of what’s on the radio (although of a morning in Brisbane, I admit to station shuffling between ABC News and the banter of Laurel, Gary and Mark). Remember with laughter yoga, we’re laughing as an exercise—not relying on comedy or humour. So in the banked-up traffic, stopped by a red light, I just start a slow quiet ‘hohoho’ or ‘hahaha’ and I keep it going, speeding it up, for as long as the traffic light is red. My eyes remain on the light but I’m not thinking of the delay. I’m laughing. When the traffic light turns green, I stop laughing, keep smiling and gently accelerate onward. I’ll repeat the process as and when needed throughout the journey. I get to my destination feeling calm.
Let’s face it, getting angry behind the wheel won’t get us anywhere any faster – except perhaps into an emergency room with heart palpitations from stress, or worse, because of risky driving that has caused an accident. Next time, try laughing in the face of traffic delays and give road rage a wave goodbye.
(c) Heather Grant-Campbell 2017
Founder of The Happydemic, Heather Joy Campbell is a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, living in Brisbane, Australia. Seeking to spread wellbeing through laughter, seriously, Heather Joy runs workplace and organisational workshops and seminars on laughter for wellbeing, trains laughter yoga leaders, and, as a community giveback, runs a weekly suburban laughter club.