What I Learned About Habits from Driving in Japan

My husband and I recently returned from a two-week trip to Japan. It was a lovely time full of adventure and learning.

While there we got a rental car in a few of the places we stayed. So, here’s how Japanese cars are set up:

  • The driver sits on the right side of the car
  • The blinker is on the right side of the steering wheel
  • The windshield wipers are on the left side of the steering wheel
  • Cars drive on the left side of the road

Driving on the opposite side of the road that we were used to was a little more challenging than I anticipated. And there was some spatial differences I had to figure out while driving from the right side of the car.

Japanese drivers are very courteous and respectful- like their culture. They all use their blinkers and hardly anyone ever blows their horn.

With the blinker on the opposite side of the steering wheel that we were used to, our windshield wipers were turned on nearly every time we made a turn. Haha!!! It was really hard to retrain my brain. And I realized that if I wasn’t constantly thinking about my habits while driving then I was going to end up on the wrong side of the road and using my windshield wipers when they weren’t needed.

Then, when we arrived home, I was reaching on the right side of the steering wheel to turn on the blinker. So, only after a few weeks my habits had switched to Japanese cars and driving.

What I realized from this experience is that when we desire to change habits we must be conscious of our choices 100% of the time. We must be in the present moment. Not functioning on auto-pilot. And even when we are focused and present, our old-time ingrained habits still pop up. And like the windshield wipers coming on, we can be reminded, “Oh yeah! I’m doing this different thing now.”

So, being mindful is of upmost importance. And, when we slip up, laughter, forgiveness, and a positive resolve will get us back on track.

Need help or guidance in changing or shifting your own habits? Email me here!

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