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The band Alabama has performed some great songs. If you asked a country music fan to list their top 50 favorite songs, there’s a good chance they would list a few songs from Alabama. One of their songs has started to become real to me lately.

Here’s a few lyrics:

Don’t know why
I have to drive so fast
My car has nothing to prove
It’s not new
But it’ll do 0 to 60 in 5.2

Oh I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

I have a 45 minute commute. I start my morning on a dirt road and end up in the center of business in a busy metro area. I have always considered myself a savvy driver. I watch several cars ahead so that I know when things are going to slow down so that I can slip over a lane to sneak around the slowdown. It becomes a game. It also becomes a competition.

I have spent many commutes yelling at my windshield. Anyone slower than me is an idiot. Anyone faster than me is looking to get a ticket. I’m the perfect one. If everyone drove like me, the roads would be safer and more efficient.

The problem is that I end up arriving at my destination with my blood pressure up. I’m frustrated before I ever get to the office. I get home and I’m grumpy. There’s got to be more to life than this.

Recently, I decided to change lanes. I used to dominate the left lane. I finally made the conscious choice to enjoy the right lane. I have slowed down. I smile at those who make sudden lane changes or pull out in front of me. I set my cruise control at or below the speed limit and watch everyone blow past me. The results are surprising.

I really thought it would add 5 or 10 minutes to my commute. No. It adds only 1 or 2 minutes. That’s it! I was killing myself for 1 or 2 minutes!

I am getting better gas mileage. We’ve all heard that you get better gas mileage if we slow down. I always figured that was a lie intended to discourage aggressive driving. Wrong. I have gained 4 miles per gallon by slowing down. That one shocked me.

I am happier. This is the big one. I arrive at work more relaxed. I smile more. It is easier to tolerate difficult customers. I get home and feel a little more decompressed. Some of the stress of my work day melts away as I putter along in the right lane. Now I’m curious to see if it lowers my blood pressure. Based on what I’ve experienced so far, I bet it does.

So, when you go flying by me and my new right lane attitude, smile and wave…just make sure you use all five fingers.

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