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Commuting could be making you miserable – especially if you catch the bus.
Sherry Marshall, Sydney therapist and relationships counsellor who specializes in Process Oriented Psychology and author of ‘A Search for Meaning, Connecting with Buddhist Teachers’ is interviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald article 26/2/2014 Online.
The Journey is the Destination. Commuters may not think so!
Also listen for my RADIO Interview with Clive Roberton on 2UE at 8.40pm Sydney time on Thursday 27/2/2014
Released by Britain’s Office of National Statistics, a study found that “commuters have a lower life satisfaction, a lower sense that their daily activities are worthwhile, lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety on average than non-commuters”.
The study was based on the 2012-2013 annual population survey and compared the personal well-being of 60,200 respondents.
When travel method and time spent commuting were combined, researchers found that “taking the bus or coach to work on a journey lasting more than 30 minutes was the most negative commuting option in terms of personal well-being”. Regardless of the mode of transport, journey times between 61 and 90 minutes had the greatest effect on all aspects of personal well-being for commuters, the study found.
But when commuting time reached more than three hours, the negative effects on personal well-being vanished. It also found people who commute by train had higher anxiety than those who drove. Walking to work isn’t any better for your well-being. When compared with people who travel 1-15 minutes, “those walking between 16 and 30 minutes to work had lower life satisfaction, a lower sense that daily activities are worthwhile and lower happiness levels on average”.
The report does, however, say that there are benefits associated with commuting. A person chooses to commute and accepts the negative effects of doing so. In return, they may be compensated with higher earnings, better career prospects or nicer housing further away from work.
Regardless of how you think are being compensated for your commuting, therapist Sherry Marshall says we underestimate the effect it can have on us. The author of A Search for Meaning, says, “shorter travelling times and easier journeys actually make us happier than a bigger house, though we don’t initially think that.” In other words, how much does our journey to work really cost us, and not just financially?
We all know that commuting is stressful, but Sherry Marshall says that on a physical level we are more likely to have health problems. While emotionally “we can become anxious and more stressed and angry, as clearly demonstrated by the increasing road rage,” she says.
Happiness starts in the mind, she says, but when we get what we want the happiness associated with that lasts an average of three days. “Everyone has a set happiness point which we return to.” Each “point” is different but most importantly it’s changeable, depending on your attitude.
If you can’t change your situation you can change the way you think. So what are some things people can be doing to reduce anxiety and stress associated with commuting? Sherry Marshall recommends using the time for your happiness.
“You can listen to music or podcasts, audio books, do a distance learning course, watch a movie, text and chat, read a book, work on your iPad or read interesting articles,” she says. It’s also important to examine what is making us unhappy, stressed or anxious.
Most importantly, “find a way to live your life that you choose, not the life society tells you will make you happy”, she says.
“The myth of happiness is made up of many different factors. Happiness doesn’t so much depend on our external factors, though they can help. It’s what we think and how we feel,” says Sherry.