There’s a direct correlation between work commute and overall happiness. It’s been proven in a number of studies, one of which showed that each minute added to a commute affected people’s anxiety, happiness and general wellbeing.
Turns out, commuters are more likely to be anxious, dissatisfied and have a sense that their daily activities lacked meaning than those who don’t have to travel to work.
What’s interesting is, commuting isn’t really the issue here. As my mentor used to say, your problem is never your problem. Often time, it’s the thing behind the thing that’s causing the pain.
And so, these people’s experience of unhappiness doesn’t stem from their commute, but from their lack of control. Squeezing into a crowded train or sitting mindlessly in traffic or trudging frustratingly through the snow, these experiences make people feel like they have less control over their lives. As if their happiness was being held hostage by the powers that be.
Commuting, then, is merely one symptom of a larger problem. They’ve set themselves up in lives which seem to be largely out of their control. For example, let’s say an employee had a two minute commute to the office. Sounds like a dream, right? Not so fast. Because once she arrives at work, her job forces her into a situation where one person has the power to make or break her life. Whether it’s her boss, her biggest client, her desk mate or her direct report, she feels at the whim of one person to choose her success or failure in any endeavor.
That’s not a commute problem, that’s a control problem.
And so, the goal isn’t to find an alternate route to work. The goal is to create a work system that puts you out of the reach of the powers that choose or reject you. Which may take years to achieve, but if you’re always on the lookout for ways to maximize the freedom of your schedule and environment, and if you’re always finding new ways to own your world, you’ll constantly boost your sense of control. And freedom won’t be far behind.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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