- General

New Book Uses Driving As Metaphor to End Distracted Living

Jim Jacobs’ Driving Lessons for Life 2 is a follow-up to his first book that used driving lessons as metaphors for ways to improve our lives. The ride continues in this sequel, which contains fifty short essays on how we can all improve our lives by applying the lessons we learn on the road to our daily situations.

Jim notes that the average person spends nearly twenty-five hours per week in the car. Rather than have this be dead or mindless time, Jim advocates “using our drive time to improve our lives and relationships and really develop our potential.” For him, an experience on the road can become a “driving lesson for life.”

The book is chockful of advice to get us all to think about the various aspects of our lives. I believe it will be enjoyed by everyone from beginning to seasoned drivers, and Jim addresses drivers of every caliber. For example, to the new drivers, Jim offers, “please don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be afraid of never getting to the places you want to go. Everyone makes mistakes. It is what you do with them that counts.”

The essays are full of fun and practical advice mixed with some thoughtful opinions. A few of the titles include: “A Car in the Summer Is Hot; People Are Not,” where Jim addresses the problems with how we objectify people; “Watching Out for Blind Spots,” which asks us to address blind spots in our own lives; and “What Roads Are You Heading Down?” to address various life choices we might make.

The car metaphors are profuse throughout, but each one works, often in a surprising, yet thoughtful way. Everything driving-related makes an appearance here from merging-worthy of a four-part series of essays-to roundabouts, blinkers, speeding, license plates, getting lost, and cruise control. One of my favorite focuses is on “Car Conversations.” Jim notes that we often can have incredible and meaningful conversations in the car. He strongly advocates that we use our time in the car with loved ones to enhance our relationships by simply talking to each other and seeing time in the car as an opportunity to teach our children.

One of my favorite pieces of advice in this book was related to when Jim talks about bumper stickers that ask, “How am I driving?” He uses this commonly seen feature to discuss how we all need to learn to be open to feedback. He ends by suggesting, “Let’s all get some bumper stickers for our lives that say, ‘How am I driving?’ and paste them on our backs. Then, with a grateful attitude, let’s invite people to give us feedback on our performance. When we apply the thoughts that fit, we will get ourselves farther down the road of life. We will navigate more clearly.”

Another great story includes advice from Jim’s stepdad, who helped teach him to drive. His stepdad warned Jim when approaching a traffic light, “”If it is green now, it may be red by the time you get there.” This advice taught Jim that he needs to plan ahead in life by looking down the road and preparing for what he might find there.

I also loved the metaphor on alignment. Jim states, “Most difficulties for individuals come when behavior and belief are not in alignment. In short, when you believe one way but act another, you are out of alignment. And being out of alignment can be a major cause of depression, anger, anxiety, and a host of other emotional and relationship problems. Alignment between belief and behavior is very important.” After exploring ways we fall out of alignment in our lives, Jim offers us three simple steps to get realigned.

Nor does Jim shy away from difficult topics. He opposes modern advice that often says to eliminate the toxic or negative people from your life. He asks us instead to look at such people with compassion, stating, “it is possible that your life is filled with people who are just trying their best and need to be loved. I am convinced that this world needs more people who can take what is negative and turn it around into something positive. At least that is my goal.” As he says in a later essay on merging, “Life is so much better for all of us when we let people in.”

Jim also discusses a license plate he saw that asks, “Izzitme?” After sharing the license plate owner’s reasons for the plate, Jim discusses how we can use this question to ask ourselves “Is it me?” and assume that if there is a problem, we are at least partly responsible, and taking responsibility can lead to healing.

Jim knows that our real life road trip never truly ends. We have to strive continually to follow the rules of the road and monitor our driving. Driving Lessons for Life 2 is a helpful and fun reminder of many aspects of living and driving that we can all benefit from. As Jim states in the book’s conclusion, “You have to persist in the direction you want to go and never let the goal out of sight. There are no rest stops on the road to a better and more fulfilling life. Plus, the road will always be under construction. There are more hills to climb, potholes to dodge, and things to experience. In so many ways, it is exciting that this particular journey never ends.”

If you want to make your journey a little smoother, I suggest you test-drive this book.