How To Make Your Commute Better

Those of us who commute to work know the feeling of wishing ourselves out of the situation and asking ourselves: What can we do to make this time of the day more enjoyable? It’s pretty simple: Incorporate more of what you like and reduce the parts you dislike – both are equally possible once you know what to look for.

This post is a part of the The Beauty Of… series which focuses on finding the positives in life and improving unwelcome aspects of situations so that we will actually enjoy them.


: How I Survived Commuting :

I’ve been a commuter for more than 20 years of my work life. Living in a metropolis of 4 million inhabitants I spent 2.5 hours every day crammed onto busses or into subways – and that was on good days.

Whenever there was construction work going on, this time increased considerably. Even in the best-case scenario 50 hours per month went into commuting – more than an entire working week on top of the time I spent at the office.

During that time, I was utterly miserable. I hated the tired and sour faces around me (that admittedly reflected my own). The bright lights and the loud noises bothered me. I loathed the feeling of wasting my precious lifetime away.

What I wasn’t aware of was that I was just a tiny step away from fundamentally changing the way I spent my time commuting.

Today, I can wholeheartedly say that I love commutes, regardless of the occasion.

I have a blast walking an hour back and forth come rain or shine whenever I have a dental appointment. I look forward to taking the city railway to meet up with friends on the other side of town. I enjoy long car rides that take me to places where I spend less time than it took to get there.

Why? Not because I don’t commute anymore because I do – but because commutes to me are no longer a dreaded time of the day.

And I would love to share with you how I got to that point so you can do the same.


: Ways To Improve Commuting :

People are usually quick to agree with others on how cumbersome, tiring, and just downright awful commuting is. What they fail to see is that this doesn’t change anything – especially not for the better.

Instead of looking for ways to improve things they focus on the negative aspects which to them are countless. At the same time, they ignore the positive aspects that also exist but are simply more hidden.

Interestingly, nobody ever asks how commuting affects subjective well-being positively, how it supports our health in a good way, and what the pros of commuting are. So I think it’s time to do exactly that.

In this post, I want to focus on how commutes can be a joyful occurrence in our lives – if we open our eyes to see.

:1. What Is A Good Commute?:

Whenever we face situations we don’t enjoy we generally have three options of reacting to it: To love it, to change it, or to leave it.

Intriguingly, when we apply this to commuting many of us choose a fourth reaction: We hate it.

It often eats up a significant portion of our day and we feel that we don’t have any options.

  • Leave it? We cannot exactly hand in our notice and NOT go to work, can we?
  • Change it? Moving closer to the office isn’t possible for numerous reasons.
  • Love it? Absolutely unthinkable as there’s nothing to even like about it.

But is that really true?

Since leaving or changing is not an option, that leaves us with two choices. We can decide to keep hating it the way we always have or learn to remodel it into something we love.

Would we rather be grouchy and angry at the world twice a day every day because we have to commute? Or would we prefer to figure out what would make us happy during that time? Personally, I’ve opted for the latter.

The initial situation won’t change – we will still be on the road for xyz minutes. But the way we look at it will be vastly different because we’ll spend the time in a meaningful way instead of wasting it brooding away.

A good commute is filled with whatever makes us feel good, what we are interested in, and what helps us move toward things that are important to us.

Think about it: This commuting period is a blessing and a gift. It is time we have entirely to ourselves. Every. Single. Working day.

We are not at work or at home where we need to look after tasks or other people.

And the best part: We don’t need to feel bad about focusing exclusively on ourselves the way we would if we were slacking off on the couch at home.

This time is more precious than people make it out to be. Let’s fill it with something it deserves.

:2. What Can We Do While Commuting?:

If we usually spend our commute scrolling mindlessly on our smartphones while sitting on the train or screaming our lungs out while stuck in traffic, it might feel strange to ask ourselves what our ideal commute would look like.

Nonetheless, I would like us to do exactly that. Let’s dig up all the things we’ve ever loved doing throughout our lives – from kindergarten to our current chapter.

Anything that comes up is possibly something we can either actively do or prepare for while commuting.

Is there a certain hobby that isn’t bound to a specific place (reading, knitting, etc.)? Perfect, we’ll do it.

Would something normally require more space or specific tools (painting, sculpting, etc.)? Challenge accepted, let’s look for ways to downsize and substitute.

Are there pastimes impossible to bring along (playing the piano, juggling, etc.)? Great, we’ll find audio or video sources that will teach us something about it we haven’t mastered yet.

Another way to spend the time well is to tackle tasks we need to do anyway. Why? Because that way they’ll be done and no longer a burden by the time we get home.

Emails we need to answer? Errands lists we’ve been meaning to write? All of that is easily possible, also while driving (thanks to smartphone dictation).

Last but not least, we could also do something which might require a bit of courage but is all the more rewarding: Be a glimmer of hope and to fellow commuters who need encouragement or a reason to smile.

:3. How To Deal With Annoying Fellow Commuters:

Let’s face it: Regardless of our chosen means of transportation, we are bound to run into idiots who seem to be set out to spoil our day.

If we travel by public transport, someone will loudly listen to the music we hate the most. If we drive a car, someone will make us brake sharply out of the blue. If we walk, someone on their bike will almost run us over speeding past us on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately for us, we cannot control who we encounter during our commute. What we can do, though, is decide how we react to the people we come across.

We can consciously decide to not grant them power over us. After all, getting worked up over other people’s unthoughtful behavior won’t do us any good. It will not change the way they behave – but it will change the way we feel, and for the worse. And is that really what we want?

Let’s practice assuming the person in question has a good reason to do what they do:

The music listener might be trying to wake up after a sleepless night over personal worries and not be aware that the headphones aren’t leakage-proof.

The erratic driver might not have much practice driving and already feel bad about being an obstacle to others.

The speeding biker might be rushing to the hospital in a frenzy after learning that someone they know got into a life-threatening accident.

See what that does? Over time, we will naturally stop getting angry at people and instead simply notice their actions without letting them affect us negatively. The bliss of true freedom.

After leaving Egypt, Moses and his people endured a forty-year commute, starting with a truly epic crossing of the Red Sea (which made getting through the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour seem like traipsing across a country bridge in a sundress on a spring afternoon).

Eben Weiss

Help this ugly duckling turn into a swan.
This website is brand new and hasn’t gained much traction yet, so I rely heavily on word of mouth. If you enjoyed what you read so far, it would make my day if you shared it with friends and family and followed me on social media. Thank you! ❤︎


: Best Commuting Ways :

We human beings are creatures of habit, and routines give us security in the ever-changing world we live in.

Interestingly, this also impacts the way we commute. We travel by car, train, or bike or walk to the office every single day without ever questioning it. But just because we settled on a specific means of transportation at one point doesn’t mean we have to stick to it for all eternity.

Sometimes we benefit from looking at the alternative options out there, so let’s have a closer look.

:1. Benefits Of Commuting By Car:

Driving the car is probably the favorite way of commuting for most of us, and it’s easy to see why. 

We can do whatever we want as long as we keep our hands on the wheel and our ears open to approaching sirens.

We can fervently sing along to our favorite music because nobody is there to witness it anyway. Unless we blast our guilty pleasure out into the world with the windows rolled down at a red stoplight of course, but even then we’ll be gone before anyone has enough time to raise an eyebrow.

We can shove all the things our heart desires onto the back seat and decide on the spur of the moment what we want to occupy ourselves with during the ride or on our lunch break.

We’d be fine even if we decided to bring along our entire CD collection (anyone remember these?), a huge pile of books, and three pallets of snacks to choose from.

In fact, to many of us, our car is nothing short of a moving addition to our home, and that may very well be its biggest benefit when it comes to commuting.

If we don’t own a car of our own, we can easily lend one thanks to the numerous car-sharing apps out there (think ShareNow for example).

If we’re quite a bit more adventurous we can even throw ourselves into the joys of carpooling where total strangers meet up to share a ride.

And somewhere in between lies the third option of teaming up with colleagues who share the same way to work (or at least parts of it). You know, ideally the ones we look forward to both working and spending our lunch breaks with because they share our sense of humor and are just fun to be around.

:2. Benefits Of Commuting By Train:

The biggest benefit of being a train commuter is probably the fact that we can almost entirely focus on whatever it is that we’ve decided to do during our commute.

We don’t have to be aware of anything that’s happening around us and it doesn’t matter if we’re not quite awake yet either as we’re not the ones in the driver’s seat.

Instead, we can exclusively focus on continuing with this great podcast we started listening to the day before, trying our hand at knitting that utterly cute but unpronounceable amigurumi thing we came across during online shopping, or simply enjoying having time to ourselves to dwell on our thoughts.

All we need to pay attention to is making sure we don’t miss our final destination or interchange station. Isn’t that great?

To make it even more enjoyable there are a couple of ways in which we can tweak our train commute:

Opting for the fastest route isn’t always the best option. Of course, it takes less time to get to the office and back home. If we need to switch trains too often during the ride, however, it keeps us from being able to indulge in the fun tasks at hand fully. So below the line, we’re not gaining anything.

Instead, it might be wise to choose a route with as few transfers as possible (maybe even none). Commuting longer while enjoying ourselves sounds much better than commuting shorter but feeling rushed and not settled because we constantly need to switch trains, doesn’t it?

And speaking of switching trains: Choosing to travel by urban rail transit when we’re usually taking the subway could also be – quite literally – an enlightening experience. 

Even when we’re fixated on something in our lap, we’re still aware of the world around us, and traveling overground will boost our mood even if we don’t consciously notice it.

It’s just like walking or biking (in that we can marvel at the nature passing by), only more relaxed and less exhausting.

:3. Benefits Of Commuting By Bike:

Do you remember the way you felt when you were little and first learned how to ride a bike? 

How rumbling across cobblestone pavement made your arms itch, how the wind in your hair made you feel like you could fly, and how suddenly being able to speed from one place to another seemed like a superpower?

All of this is always at our fingertips, and we can feel as happy and giddy about it as we did when we were little. We have just forgotten about it.

Riding a bike to work and back actually has quite a few more benefits:

It’s a great full-body exercise that frees up the time we spend huffing away at the gym and instead allows us to spend it with our hobbies or friends and family.

Biking is like walking only faster, so we can reap the benefits of commuting by foot (scroll down for those) while still saving time.

And if time isn’t of the uttermost importance, we can use mobile apps that let us find enjoyable and nature-focused biking routes even in the most densely built cities.

The additional icing on the cake: By trying out different routes and turning unknown corners, we’re bound to have puzzle pieces fall into place whenever blind spots on our mental map get filled in („Oh, this is where this street leads to!“). Nothing is more enjoyable than those little aha moments when we least expect them.

And finally, if we feel that riding all the way to work takes too long or is too exhausting, we have two additional options to choose from to easily solve the problem:

  1. We can use an e-bike instead of a regular one to help conserve our energy (don’t think of it as cheating but positive behavioral support).
  2. We can combine biking with other means of transportation (for example cycling a couple of bus stops or train stations before getting on public transport).

:4. Benefits Of Commuting By Foot:

This is actually my favorite way to get from A to B because it’s so natural and applicable anywhere and anytime. 

We don’t need to remember to get gas beforehand, train delays don’t affect us, and we don’t have to deal with flat bike tires. We simply put on our shoes, tie the laces, and are ready to go. 

Once we get over the initial hesitation (it’s too far to walk, too rainy to enjoy, too boring to waste time on), we’ll realize that it’s actually none of those things but instead all of the following:

It’s the oldest means of physical activity in existence, and the only one we ever need. Every single part of our body is connected by bones and fasciae, and by walking we exercise our entire body in exactly the way it was intended for. After all, indigenous people don’t need gyms to be healthy, do they?

So by simply walking to work and back, we will already have reached our weekly quota of exercise without even trying. Consequently, we can spend our home time exclusively focusing on friends and family.

On top of that, we can decide at every turn of the journey which path we want to take today and how long we want to linger underway. Feel like taking a detour through the municipal park or swinging by an old neighborhood? We’re free to decide upon whatever we feel like.

If we find walking too slow or boring after all, how about adding in a pair of rollerskates, the old skateboard collecting dust in the closet, or that e-scooter our colleague offered to let us try out?

Be creative and I promise you (from my own experience): Before long, you’ll find yourself not only commuting to work but also running errands or meeting up with friends on foot – simply because it makes you feel good physically and mentally. Try it – it’s worth it.


: Questions To Ponder Over :

  1. What annoys you most about commuting, and what would make it less tedious?
  2. Which alternative commuting routes could you take in order to liven things up?
  3. How would switching up your means of transportation change the situation?
  4. What would you like to master that you could teach yourself while commuting?
  5. What occurrence would make you happy and how could you provoke it yourself?

I’d be thrilled to hear from you in the comments below.
Don’t be shy.


: Information For Research :

Would you like to see an article on a particular topic?
Because I would love to write about something I know someone will enjoy (instead of writing for the void without knowing whether anyone will ever read it).

You can be as detailed as possible or write a one-liner – either is perfectly fine.
Comment below or get in touch here.


: Key Takeaways From This Post :

Commuting doesn’t have to be the dreaded part of our day that we make it out to be.

There are countless ways in which we can make it a positive experience:

  • Choosing a different mode of transportation to switch things up
  • Finding exciting and rewarding activities to do during the commute
  • Simply embracing the journey itself by focusing on what’s around us

Life is too short to spend it dreading the journey into work. So start adjusting your commute trying out the things mentioned above, and marvel at how the situation will change.

And if you meet someone years down the line going, “Why is commuting good for you – I just don’t get it!” take a deep breath, remember you were once like them, and reply with, “Let me count the ways…”.

How useful was this post?

2 Comments How To Make Your Commute Better

  1. Avatar for AlexAlex May 6, 2024 at 1:20 PM

    Dear special someone who is reading my blog,
    I’m so excited you took time out of your day to read this post and even made it all the way down to the comments section. I’d love to hear from you and exchange thoughts and ideas – so please get in touch!

    Did you enjoy the read? Could you relate to anything in particular? Were you hoping for something I missed? I’m posting new articles weekly and am open to topics to write about. Is there anything you would love to see a post on? If so, comment here or send me an email. I’ll happily look into it.

    This website is brand new and hasn’t gained much traction yet, so I rely heavily on word of mouth. It would make my day if you shared articles you enjoyed with friends and family and followed me on social media.

    You can also sign up to be notified via email whenever new posts are available.

    I’m happy to have you here and get to know you better over time.

    All the best,

  2. Avatar for Reuben DominguezReuben Dominguez May 19, 2024 at 8:17 AM

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better.
    Going through it reminds me of my previous roommate.
    He always kept preaching about this. I’ll send this post to
    him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a very good read. Thank
    you for sharing!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *