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Ughhh… Rush hour, traffic jams, gridlock, sitting in a parking lot (I could go on)… Whatever you want to call it, I despise it.


This is the one major aspect about living in a metropolitan city that really irks me.

It unfortunately is unavoidable when you live within a populated city…or is it???

There are systems many major cities have implemented to help alleviate the congestion on the major roads/ freeways.

Common systems include:

1. HOV lanes built for buses and carpoolers.

2. Ramp metering systems (or ramp signals) which have proved to be successful in decreasing traffic congestion and improving driver safety.

The recent upgrade in Melbourne, Australia has installed 62 ramp meters that are coordinated using the HERO suit of algorithms developed by Markos Papageorgiou and Associates from the Technical University of Crete.  All the ramps can be linked when required to resolve motorway bottlenecks before they emerge. The results of a recent trial improved capacity by 9% over the previous fixed time ramp metering system and average speeds increased by 20kmh.  The HERO system takes real time data every 20 seconds from the motorway, ramps and arterial road in order determine the best signal timing for the next 20 seconds.

3. Driving Fees on major downtown/CBD routes .

Now this leads me to a brilliant talk that I came across on TED.  This talk by Jonas Eliasson goes into how he solved a traffic jam issue on one of Stockholm Sweden’s major bridges.   Jonas Eliasson studies how small charges on crowded bridges effect traffic, what makes a person opt to bike to work and how far people choose to live from public transportation. As the Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, Eliasson helped design, plan and evaluate Stockholm’s congestion tax, which was piloted in 2006 and made permanent in 2007. Eliasson is frequently brought on by other cities that are considering similar fees for rush hour use of crowded roads.

When they implemented a fee to drive on one of Stockholm’s major bridges, it resulted in 20% of the cars disappearing.  This 20% significantly improved the congestion on this bridge.  Interestingly, at the beginning of the fee being introduced the majority of the public were opposed to it and after it was established an astounding 70% of the public wanted to keep the fee – remember this is something that used to be free.  So where did the 20% of the people driving the cars go?  They changed and adapted to a new lifestyle.  The begun riding their bike, taking public transport or carpooling.

I guess what we can take from this with a little nudge, people can change and adapt to a new and most importantly healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, people are also willing pay a price if it leads to their quality of life improving.  Driving is a part of my job and therefore if my city implemented a reasonable fee on the major bridge I drive on each day to and from work I would pay it in a heart beat to gain back some of that time I lose sitting in traffic.

This talk is awesome…have a watch!





This Ted talk is fascinating to me and I highly encourage you to spare 20minutes out of your day to watch it.  Researchers have discovered these “blue zone” communities from different parts of the world have common everyday habits that result in the an even bigger common ground – they have the longest average life expectancy in the world.

There are 9 common diet & lifestyle habits that are consistent in all these unique “blue zone” societies.


Since first watching this video on Ted a few years ago, I consciously put in the effort to implement these habits into my daily life.  In the western world, we are tempted on a daily basis to step outside of these habits.  But with a little bit of conscious thinking, self-assurance and will power, you can stay grounded and healthy.

Here are my tips on how we can achieve a “blue zone” lifestyle living in the western world with the objection of living a longer beautiful life.

Move Naturally

  • Appreciate what nature has to offer by perhaps walking/biking to the local grocery store, rather than driving – take in the fresh air, check out the different trees, flowers and animals along the way, and even smile and say hello to your fellow neighbours.  It may take an extra 30 minutes out of your day, but try to think of it more as giving back to your body and mind – plus simple consistent habits like this could add on 30 minutes + onto your life!
  • Find a team sport that you really enjoy – I started playing beach volleyball last year.  It was the first time I ever gave the sport a-go, and I haven’t stopped since.  I look forward to every game and (win or loss) it releases so many endorphins making me feel like I’m on cloud 9 afterwards.  But its not just the game that makes me happy, it’s also the fun and supportive community that I am now apart of.
  • Play with your pet dog or cat or whatever you have out in the backyard for 20 minutes everyday – turn off your work mode by playing fetch or running around with the cat teaser after work.  Its a great de-stresser and makes your pet very happy and in turn will make you fulfilled.
  • Make house chores more fun – the cleaning has to get done, but why not flick on some of your favourite tunes while vacuuming, mopping or dusting.  If you have to be considerate of others in the house, slap on your earphones!

Right Outlook

  • We tend to encounter a lot of stressful situations in the daily hustle and bustle, whether its being stuck in traffic, trying to meet a deadline at work, or planning your partners surprise party.  When you find yourself in these times, try to stop yourself for a moment, take a couple deep breaths and reflect on the bigger picture.  Tell yourself that these moments will pass – they always do.  The traffic will subside and you will get to your destination, you are going to try your best to finish as much of the workload as you can during the time you have you to do it, and the party will come together flaws and all (we are not perfect and don’t worry because happiness is not dependent on perfection).  Regardless, your partner and loved ones will appreciate the effort and you’ll have a good time just by being in each others company.
  • Try to set aside 10 minute out of everyday to close your eyes, turn off whats going on around and just focus on your breath.  Meditation doesn’t have to be complex.  Once your feeling more clam, continue breathing and begin to think about the things/people in your life that you are most  grateful for – POSITIVE THINKING.  Putting your life into perspective can help to reduce stress.
  • “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and its all small stuff”  as Richard Carlson says. Life is too short to get worked up into the small insignificant things – and there are plenty of them that we are faced with.  Whats most important to you?  Family, friends and the time, love and experiences you share with one another is what counts the most at the end of the day.

Eat Wisely

  • Build a garden and treat it well – fill it up with lots good greens and colourful veggies – tending to your garden is a good workout for the mind and body in more ways than one.
  • Before you eat something, think about what your putting into your body – is your body going to process and appreciate it ? Will it get nourishment and benefit from it?
  • I try to stick to eating foods that do not come from a box, are not frozen and not processed (although I have to admit my weakness is a bag of potato chips!).
  • I also try to make my food from scratch – its not hard to make your own vegetable stock or pasta – it just takes a little bit of planning, and I most say it’s very rewarding when you serve a home cooked meal to your loved ones.  Knowing that your filling them with healthy nourishment is the best feeling, and they will appreciate the effort and (hopefully) the taste!
  • I am a Pescatarian by personal choice, but if you do eat meat that’s fine too, but just try to limit the amount of red meat you consume as most red meat is high in saturated fatty acids (the unhealthy type).
  • Be mindful when eating – remember to stop eating once you think your body is 80% full because it takes your stomach around 15 minutes to process to your brain that you’re actually full.
  • Prepare your plates and put the leftovers away before sitting to eat so you are not tempted to go back for seconds.  The leftovers will not run away and your body will appreciate them much more tomorrow for lunch!


  • Spend time with people that inspire you, make you laugh and ultimately make you a happier person for having them in your life.  These people are the true gems that are keepers.
  • Mutual respect, trust, communication and love with each other is what keeps these relationships going long term.
  • So make sure that you are setting aside time to nurture each of these relationships – your social equity will only continue to appreciate if you do this.
  • If you feel like you need to improve on this area, look up social groups or sporting communities that interest you.  As 104 year old, Marge Dutton, says “a stranger is a friend who I have not met yet”.

What can you – or do you do already – to implement these healthy habits into your everyday life?  I’d love to hear any of your ideas…

* I am not a professional nutritionist or therapist.  My comments above are my own personal experiences and thoughts that I am simply sharing with you.

Above photo courtesy of Australian Geographic