It’s a beautiful time of year in most of the country (sorry, allergy sufferers) and if you’re feeling resentful that instead of stopping to smell the roses, you’re stuck in traffic dealing with the waft of exhaust fumes, you aren’t alone. The average American spends almost 40 hours per year in commuting traffic jams. That’s the equivalent of an entire work week for which you aren’t being paid, on top of the time you actually spend commuting!
If you’re not satisfied with your working life as it is, it’s worth asking if the work environment or substantive duties of the job are really to blame, or if your ennui is a function of the time you spend actually getting to your job, which averages around 25 minutes each way for most of us. While we might be quick to dismiss commuting as a disliked but inevitable byproduct of the rise of suburbia, coupled with the untenable cost of living spikes in close-in urban centers where desirable jobs are concentrated (try renting in SF or NYC) and powered our love affair with the car, commuting doesn’t come without well-documented psychic costs. In fact, research from the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics shows that each minute added to a commute time decreased feelings of well-being and life satisfaction and increased anxiety. The effects leveled off at a three-hour commute, which is probably because anyone who spends that long getting to and from work has already embraced full-on nihilism.