Enjoy this excerpt from
6 Guidelines for Becoming a Thoughtful, Likeable Human Being
My driver’s license was expiring in a couple of days.
The renewal process seemed simple enough: Go online with the DMV, fill out a form, and pay a processing fee. No additional education or testing was required. Apparently, after the initial round of vetting many years ago, the ability to maintain a license was a no-brainer—assuming my continued compliance with the rules. I’m not complaining about the method of renewing my driving privileges.
What troubled me was the assumption made on the part of the DMV that all those with valid licenses are still acknowledging the responsibilities and courtesies required to drive freely about the country. Because my observation of current drivers often raises questions about their ability and fitness to handle a motorized vehicle. And frankly, I’ve become a little concerned the licensing requirements may have become lax, even a bit slipshod—at least for those who confidently slip behind the wheel with their own ideas about safe driving and the responsibility to extend a little common courtesy to others.
Life is a lot like driving. And the resemblance is more than curious—sometimes it’s a bit disturbing.
While most of us are brought up learning to engage with society by following the rules and exhibiting good manners, at some point, we usually take off in our own direction—bringing our early education along for the ride. And those who tutored us in our youth keep a good thought that we’ll retain the basic values of respect, courtesy, and patience.
Yet the actions and behaviors I’ve noticed suggests that more than a few of my fellow humans have discarded the tenets of living peacefully within our society—perhaps ditching those early life lessons in favor of more personal agendas.
Which brings me to a few commonalities I’ve discovered between those driving the open roads, and those traveling the bumpy path of life.
Being a responsible adult: Before being granted a drivers license, we must first reach the minimum age and pass a test, both written and behind the wheel. In the real world, to be recognized as adults, we must first pass through childhood and adolescence. And then we face those life tests that demonstrate we’ve gained the knowledge and awareness to interact with others in a mature, responsible manner.
Entering traffic and society: The safety rules of driving teach us to be alert and aware of other drivers, light signals, pedestrians, road conditions, weather, construction, speed limits, animals, school zones, and a number of other obstacles and challenges we encounter when sitting behind the wheel. These situations are not only rules, they’re responsibilities we willingly accept—if we wish to continue our status as an independent driver.
Entering society as a mature, responsible adult has its own set of circumstances we inherently acknowledge and agree on, including polite and courteous behavior, awareness of other’s needs and concerns, reasonable methods to circumvent problems, drama, or aggressive interchanges, and adjusting our behavior and actions to avoid harming others.
Rules of the road: They exist, in both scenarios. New drivers are often oblivious to the fact that receiving a drivers license is a privilege—earned by respecting the rules that keep us all safe on the street. Running red lights, exceeding speed limits, causing accidents, ignoring pedestrians’ right-of-way, and engaging in phone calls and texting are dangerous behaviors that put others at risk. Not to mention the obvious violations of law.
Often, there’s a similar pattern in our relationships with others, outside of the car. Discourteous behavior, intolerance, lack of consideration, and displays of superiority create confusion and derision when attempting to communicate with others—especially when those subjected to this type of conduct believe their input and ideas are not only being discounted, but completely ignored.
So what can we learn from all this?
Here are six suggestions to help us remember that everything we do in life matters, regardless of the activity—especially when it comes to being a thoughtful, considerate, and likeable human being.
- Live your life and choose your path with the understanding there are others doing the same thing. It’s important to remember the underlying common courtesies that will make the journey more beneficial and fulfilling for all. Each of us has the right to make our own decisions—and the responsibility to deal with the results and consequences. Knowing we have the freedom to pursue our goals is a powerful motivator. Recognizing others have the same privilege is a sign of a mature, self-less person.
- Stop running red lights. Rushing through safety zones isn’t only reckless, it’s a sign of self-centered entitlement. If your self-talk insists the warnings of life don’t apply to you, consider there are others who may have decided the same thing—and one of you may not make it past the intersection.
- Respect the speed limits. Some folks truly believe speed limits are merely suggestions meant for other, less confident drivers. The truth is, the establishment of speed zones and other warning strategies weren’t arbitrary decisions. Their placement is usually the result of a history of failures or accidents that impacted lives in a negative way. And their purpose is to help us avoid a similar outcome.
- When fines or penalties result from breaking the rules, admit to your mistake and pay up. Whether monetary or in the form of additional education and learning, there’s a reason you were noticed, cited, and penalized. Being found guilty of intentionally ignoring your personal responsibilities is a wake-up call to eliminate inappropriate behavior. Own up to it, make the necessary changes, and move on—with the lesson hard-learned.
- Commit to being a good driver. There are many ways to teach others, however, the most reliable method is to be the kind of person others want to emulate. And that comes from being authentic and congruent with what you know to be true—and expressing your genuine self in words, actions, and behaviors.In life, we’re both student and teacher—often touching those around us in ways we don’t always recognize or understand. By maintaining an awareness of others and acknowledging their right to share the road with us, we can all traverse safely along our journey.
- Keep moving forward. The direction we take is a choice. We can consider the well-traveled route, or decide to strike out on a new road, knowing that—regardless of our best-laid plans and intentions—our destination is never guaranteed. But if we remember the rules of the road, we’ll have the best possible chance of arriving safely, while experiencing the most enjoyment from the adventure.
Discover Your Personal Truth: Ditch the Excuses and Start Living a Real Life is available from Amazon in eBook and paperback