The Healing Power of Red Traffic Lights

Most drivers prefer the green traffic light. Green says “go,” “smooth sailing,” “on schedule,” “won’t be late,” “accelerate” …

and if you catch a series of them, “I’m on a roll!” “wheeee,” “this is my lucky day,” “maybe I should buy a lottery ticket,” and other magical thinking 😉

Yellow says, “you are about to be interrupted,” and “slow down.” If you choose to accelerate, often there’s the split-second follow-up thought, “hope there’s not a traffic camera or cop watching!”

Red says, “STOP!”

For most of us, this is an unwelcome intrusion at best, and an offensive affront at worst.

In other words, red lights cause emotional and psychological stress based on the human need to “Go, go, go!” and deep-seated feelings of “You’re not the boss of me!”

So I was surprised, when driving to Chipotle with my dear friend John Lucas (inventor, author of The Chihuahua Swami, and wise-ass), he commented on my impatience at being impeded by a red light. His exact words, I believe, were, “Red lights are good.”

Red lights are good?

And then he treated me to what Jonas Ellison might call a “preachment” by saying simply, “They give you an opportunity right in the middle of your very busy day to come to a complete stop.”

“And what is good about that?” I asked as my busy mind experienced mental whiplash at the very thought of “complete stop.”

This same mind was simultaneously pressing the brake pedal, and forward thinking to parking at Chipotle, getting on line, hoping the line wasn’t too long, deciding on what I was going to order, having a polite argument with the server about giving me a little more rice, and scheming to pick up the check before John grabbed it because he is far too generous and I wanted to get him back.

John (did I mention he is also a witty Southerner?) drawled, “You can relax. Take a mini vacation. Have a 3-second meditation.”

Hmmmm … and then, TOTAL MINDSET SHIFT!!!


I thought you might like to know this. Because now, I look forward to red lights. They give me pause. I take three luxuriously full inhales, and three profoundly tension-releasing exhales, and am vibrantly renewed by the time the light turns green. Just about three seconds. Permission to relax instead of clench at every goddamn, I mean God-blessed, red light.

And yes, my blood pressure is lower. Relaxing at red lights is one of my regular daily practices now. Super convenient and provides immediate gratification.

So spread the word … let’s melt away road rage, one red light at a time. A great way to do that is by journaling.
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