Battling the Monotony of the Daily Commute

I work in New York City: “The Big Apple,” “The City of Dreams.” People come from all over the world to visit this amazing city, and hundreds of thousands move to the city every year to pursue their dreams. Despite the wonder that is New York City, I find myself wandering around with my head down trying to avoid other people as I make my way to the office during my morning commute. I follow the herd of city workers in a daze, sometimes not even realizing that I’ve gotten from one street corner to the other. Although NYC is the most photographed city in the world according to Instagram, I find that, at times, I pay it (and its many sights, oddities, and pleasant surprises) no attention.

Some might argue that the subway is already an adventure in itself; you never know who or what you might see once the doors close. But, it’s still easy to zone out as you zoom through the tunnels. I’ve seen countless people exit the train only to get back on because they weren’t paying attention to the stops. Simultaneously, I’ve noticed many a rider miss a stop because he or she was so engrossed in a book that the stop came and went – two types of commuters coexisting on the same train.

They always say getting there is half the fun, so why aren’t we experiencing more fun and adventure during our travels?

Well, here’s what I concluded: I have tragically succumbed to a “mindless commute,” as have many countless others all around the world. Once we find our routines, it’s easy to just run on autopilot. I told myself, there has to be a way to feel more present, engaged, and ALIVE during our daily commutes. And then I made a list of nine ways to do exactly that!


  • Mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead by meditating.
  • Take a break from reality by reading a new book – but not TOO much of a break (see: missed stop, above).
  • Discover a new podcast, or listen to new music. Now that ALL subway stations have free Wi-Fi, there are many more options than before in terms of being able to access your apps underground.
  • Play a game with yourself; Write down everything that’s blue. Count how many dogs you see on the train. Break-dancers earn extra points.
  • Take a different route or try the bus to provide a change of scenery and keep you on your toes.
  • Exercise. All those stairs are good for something, right?
  • People-watch and take notes for your next great American novel.
  • Have a dance party. The MTA Arts & Design program “Music Under New York” brings the sounds and voices of the city to the subway stations for a more engaging and enjoyable commute.
  • Say “hi” to the Naked Cowboy on your way through Times Square… If you’re unable to avoid Times Square, that is.

Whether you work in the city and commute via bus, subway, or rail, or you work in a suburban environment and commute by driving or carpooling, it’s easy to get caught up in the repetitive nature of commuting at times. It’s as unavoidable as rush hour (or snoozing your alarm that one extra time). But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go follow my own advice.


As we charter through life, it can be extremely easy to get caught up in our own endeavors. At times, I find myself so focused on my day-to-day responsibilities I lose perspective on what is truly important. Serving others. Serving my family, friends, and community is the epitome of Doing A World of Good. My encouragement to anyone reading this is to live with the understanding that each person you meet has significant value. With that appreciation, by default, you begin to act more out of kindness, compassion, and selflessness which leads to Doing A World of Good.