Traffic to test the strengths of saints

One of the minor challenges I need to manage every day is driving in Johannesburg. Those of you who live here know what I’m talking about; for the rest of you, Jozi was once named one of the world’s worst cities for commuting, largely thanks to the wild and illegal antics of the thousands of minibus taxis that do pretty much whatever they want on our roads every day.

In the grand scheme of things, traffic problems are minor. But the moment a taxi pulls in front of me and stops to drop off passengers, it feels MAJOR.

So one day, instead of giving in to frustration and swearing, I thought I’d try walking my talk and instead handle the situation by drawing on my strengths. It took a bit of effort but here’s what I came up with:

  • Gratitude: I’m so thankful I have my own car and don’t have to take a taxi. I’m glad I don’t have to ride with 15 other people. I’m happy I can go where I want when I want. I’m so grateful I don’t have to stand in the rain/wind/cold/blazing sun waiting for a ride with my children/groceries/sore throat.
  • Curiosity: I wonder what it’s like to ride in a taxi? To drive one? How do you know which taxi to take, since none of them are marked? (Already this new train of thought was causing my anger to subside.)
  • Kindness: I had to admit that when I need to turn across a busy road, it’s usually a taxi driver who stops and lets me go.
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence: This was a bit of a stretch but I decided to look for the strengths of these reckless drivers and found some: They’re gutsy. They get their passengers to their destinations as quickly as possible. They’re creative and find the most unique ways to get ahead, like driving on the wrong side of the street all the way up to the traffic light and then cutting in front of the first car in the row.

It was worth the effort. I felt better. And if strengths can help me  find a way to appreciate people who drive me nuts daily, maybe they can help you manage your stressors a little bit better too. To give you some ideas, I came up with two ways to use each of the 24 VIA strengths to handle challenges. I hope you find it helpful.

What brings out your weak side? What strengths do you have and how could you use them to stay a little cooler and act a little stronger?

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