I was traveling down the highway listening to NPR talk about how congress is running out of time to find a compromise on our budget, but has plenty of time to perfect their skills in making each other look bad. Near the 395 turnoff from route 1, it became obvious that everyone in my lane needed to merge in order to go around some construction ahead.
The car behind me in the lane to which I was merging sped up three times to make sure I didn’t get in front of him. As he rolled past me, now with about 6 inches between our cars, he let down his window and yelled an explicative at me as I yelled back at him “It’s obvious we’re all merging here!”
He responded by making a face at me and I had to laugh. I thought this was his way of easing the tension. So naturally, when he rolled down his window a second time I rolled down mine, thinking he was going to make a joke. Instead, he threw the contents of his water bottle at my face and into my car.
“You’ve got an anger management problem, Dude!” I yelled back at him as he pulled in front of me and sped off to an exit.
When I got home I was sad because all I could think was: Why does it feel like so many people have lost the basic values of being nice, and kind, and decent? At the very least, what about the fact that we’re living on this planet with other humans, and the basic knowledge that everything works better when we play nice with each other?
I wanted to soothe myself from my sadness in some way and I immediately thought about eating. Yes – food could be nice. Food could lift my spirits especially if I choose something sweet and a little splurge-y like ice cream, or chocolate.
Several years ago I’d have found some food in the fridge that made me “happy” and ate it, simple as that. No second thoughts. But, in the last few years I’ve been working on being more mindful with everything in life. Mindfulness, essentially means being present in the moment and consciously choosing your actions instead of doing things out of habit – or mindlessly.
Due to this practice I was able to catch myself getting ready to eat mindlessly. This is the conversation I had with myself: (We’ll call (H) my habitual side and (M) my mindful side.)
M: “What should I do now?”
H: “I’ll eat something yummy. ”
M: “Are you hungry?”
M: “Then why eat?”
H: “Because it’ll make me feel better.”
M: “Will it?”
M: Then how about doing something that will really help you feel better?”
H: “Like what?”
M: “Let me think….. (a few more seconds pass). Maybe writing down your experience in your blog. Or, exercise. You always feel better after exercise. You can take out your aggression on the weights. Either of these things would truly help you feel better, not just distract you from your thoughts like eating would. To top it off, you won’t feel like a fat slug after mindlessly eating a whole lot of junk.
H: “That sounds convincing… but, are you sure food isn’t the answer?”
M: “Yes. Now I am.”
So, here’s the blog post I wrote to get all of this off my chest. After writing it, I went to exercise The workout really turned my day around (as it usually does) and I felt great after doing it.
If anyone can figure out how to make people see the benefits of being nicer to each other in this big world, please let me know because I’d like to help. Otherwise, I did learn today that it’s not a good idea to roll down a window for an angry driver – ever.
At the very least I hope this post helps a few people out there get a little insight into how mindfulness can work when it comes to eating. If you find yourself getting ready to eat mindlessly, stop for a moment and ask yourself whether food is really what you need. Lots of people have made successful strides in eating healthier simply by becoming more mindful.
Til next time, stay happy… and healthy!