When Stuck in Traffic


‘It’s 7:30 of Wednesday morning and I’m writing this while seated in a cozy room of a nice hotel in Intramuros.’ I was smiling and feeling happy. Wait a minute? Shouldn’t I be pouting and irritated because of what happened earlier?

An hour earlier, I was stuck in traffic – not the usual one but still was stuck. I took the train ride thinking it would be faster and it is. However, upon reaching the next station, we stopped for an unusual number of minutes.

It was unusual for the train to stop that long in any station. In my mind, I was asking, “Why is it that the door is not closing and that we are not moving? What’s wrong?”

When you are stuck somewhere for some reason like traffic, what would you do?

Now let’s add more supporting details – you just came from Baguio, you took the 10pm trip and arrived at 4am, you only had the chance to take a shower and breakfast, you just took roughly five-to-six hour sleep in a moving bus, now you are on your way to attend an event and you suddenly got stuck for an unknown reason. What would you think, feel, and say?

At such instance, it would be so easy to complain and throw away your composure, right?

But pause with me and think.

If you would complain and fire up your irritation by focusing on it, wouldn’t that be at your disadvantage? Surely, it is normal to feel bad at that situation but is it wise to nurture that bad feeling by complaining and blaming the government for not doing their job and point out the mismanagement of the rail transit. And possibly, you could be right with the things you are pointing out. But think again.

Will this benefit you at that moment at that particular day?

What if, instead of complaining, there is a better way to deal with such situation? This way, you won’t lose your composure and still go ahead with the day with the right perspective and productive stance.

Here are my three suggestions:

First, pray. Before you dismiss this suggestion, just sit tight and read on.

It doesn’t have to so elaborate. It can be a simple prayer like this, “Thank you for this wonderful day. This is going to start with a great morning with great people with Your great guidance, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Or a simpler one, “Thank you, Lord. Guide me.”

Or sing in your mind, “Celebration!!!…” or “…new every morning, new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness, Oh Lord!”

Anything that you want to lift up… and this will lift you up.

Second, plan.

That moment while you are waiting is a good opportunity to plan what else needs to be done during the day, the week or the month.

Is there a deadline you need to meet? Is there a report you need to write? When will you do it?

Are there people you need to meet, email or call? How will you do it? When will you do it?

What are your dreams (again)? How are they so far? What are the actions you can take today to move closer to your dream?

Third, positive. (Focus on the positive.)

In this given situation, it would be so easy to focus on the negative and start ranting. But think again – what you focus on gets big and what you express often exaggerates. Try it. Look at the things you have been focusing – even if it didn’t get worse, it actually got worse by simply focusing on it and complaining about it.

How about focusing on the other side – the positive side? I’m not saying you ignore the situation. You actually need to acknowledge the situation but with a different perspective. And with this different perspective, you will see differently the same situation (with a better light). You will now be focusing on the good things you have gained despite the bad situation, the things that can be done to alleviate the sad scenario, and the things that can be employed to prevent similar situation – and this not necessarily on a grand scale that is to be employed by the government or the company but simply on a personal level.

Try these three. They could be powerful when put into practice.

Next time, when you will be stuck in traffic, (unless you are the traffic officer) don’t go out there to shout and whistle to express what you think and feel. Pause instead and do these three things: pray, plan, and stay positive.

This way, you will not lose the gift of the day and the magical composure you have at the moment. Now stand up and seize the day!

(Chris Dao-anis is giving away a free eBook. Visit www.chrispoweracademy.com.)