Here’s your traffic update Austin, TX:

It’s going to suck all day, every day, forever and always.

Now that we’ve established the facts, let’s move onto the possible solutions. Or, at least another perspective you can have on the traffic situation. Which is a problem that starts a fire inside the brains of most of us.

In the past, I have gone from being a mildly peaceful human being to a raging sociopath in a matter of minutes from the traffic and driving, or lack thereof, here in Austin. Now, I do a little better each day to realize that I’m going to be in traffic no matter what, so I may as well make the best of it.

That’s one of the major aspects of turning into a big city. Yet, as Austinites we complain every year that:

Some of these arguments are incredibly valid. The civic engineering of Austin, TX was not meant to really facilitate the population of a large metropolis. We are a thriving city that is stuck in the body of a big town. It’s like our pants are three sizes too small, and we are refusing to go on a diet.

Some of the arguments are just a waste of air. I may catch some heat for saying this, but as much as Austinites LOVE being unique (I’m included in that) our traffic problem is not actually as unique as we’d like to think it is. Every city deals with traffic. Austin’s particular highway system was poorly designed, but most cities that experience a growth spurt find that they probably overlooked some factors and could have planned better overall.

My Personal Traffic Solution

There are plenty of Texas cities that have larger populations, with more complex highway systems than ours that could use some improvement. But, I am not here to posit my scathing review of the Austin traffic situation, or Texas transportation issues in general. That would have to be a whole separate article…or blog. There’s A LOT to say on those subjects.

I’m more interested in a solution for my own personal serenity. I’m not going to change the fact that traffic exists. Even in a city with functional public transportation, I would still have to deal with the traffic created by human bodies cramming into those public transportation systems. And, if I wanted to complain, I could find plenty to complain about in that situation too.

My solution to this “paradox” mostly relies on starting to view traffic as a game, or a challenge, instead of a thing that can be solved. It’s really an exercise in expanding your patience, and/or being more resourceful with your time.

If I know I am going to be in traffic for 30-90 minutes in a day, why not make a list of all of the things I could do in that time frame that don’t require hands-on participation?

  • Listen to a new album or artist I’m excited about.
  • Listen to an interesting podcast.
  • Listen to a good audio book.
  • Practice some eye-open meditation.
  • Speak my weekly goals out loud.
  • Call a family member or friend I haven’t talked to in a while (using a hands-free method of course).
  • Just sit in traffic and practice having patience.

That last one didn’t occur to me until recently. There is so much that is constantly moving in our lives. One of the only times we are forced to be present is when we are driving and/or sitting in traffic. There are some options for distraction, but they are definitely limited and usually very unsafe.

I’m not going to change the fact that I am in traffic. I figure, why not make it work for me instead of against me? So, from time to time, I have started just sitting in traffic and exercising patience. It’s made me more patient with going about my daily life too. It takes some work to force yourself to slow down, but you’ll thank yourself when you do.