With gas prices at an all-time high, I wanted to tell you about a little car-related bright light in my life: my commute to work.

Bright light, you might question? And a fair question it is. I did a quick google search on commuting and happiness and found the following:

  • A study by researchers at the University of Zurich that people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being.
  • A 2007 article in Canada's Globe and Mail cites that studies on life satisfaction show commuting makes people more unhappy than anything else in life.
Reading those bullets, you might be wondering how I could possibly be using the term bright light to describe my commute. The reason is carpooling.

Carpooling is something my husband and I have done for a long time, even before we had a baby and started really cutting back. However, we take two cars less often and work at home one day a week since I started working part-time.

The benefits are many, and are so much more than saving money.

Save big
Sure it's a big factor, but it's not just about the gas savings. We also save on wear and tear on the car, and pay lower insurance with only one primary vehicle used for commuting.

Lower your carbon footprint
One car burns less than two. Enough said.

Get things done
With one person driving and the other one free, it's amazing what you can get done. I keep a list of to-dos that I can do in the car—like holding on a customer service call, or making that doctor appointment that has to be done between 8am and 5pm. Since I am usually the grateful passenger, I can also go through mail, knit, file my nails, you name it. On the flip side, sometimes I can just zone out and do nothing, which can be a welcome break in a busy day.

Spend time together
I have heard many people complain that they don't have enough quality time with their spouse after babies come along. I haven't really had that feeling, and I think the commute is a big part of the reason why.

Three days a week we spend 30 minutes each way together. We can laugh. We can talk about the challenges or frustrations of the day and get to a better place before picking up the baby. We can listen to a radio show or audio book and learn something together. We can just "be" together without saying a word.

It's amazing that something known to be one of the biggest contributors to unhappiness might just be the one thing that makes our marriage stronger each day.

Maybe this is totally unrealistic for your life. But maybe, just maybe, you can take a little piece of it and reap the rewards. Could you carpool with your significant other one day a week, even if it is slightly more miles than each of you would drive alone? Could you carpool with a close friend and make that friendship stronger? Could you take a bus or train and get things done you couldn't do while driving?

Try something small and see if the payoff might just be bigger than you could have imagined.


  1. Anonymous // February 9, 2009 at 11:59 AM  

    I'm waiting for your next update....xoxo robyn