Yesterday was International Day of Happiness, and of course I automatically thought about why riding my bike makes me happy. When I reflected, I came up with five reasons:
Riding is fun
The simple act of propelling a bike along, and experiencing the wind rushing by, is fun. It’s strange that a bicycle cannot stand up on its own, but it stays upright when you ride it. I find it fun to achieve that balance. It gives me a sense of freedom that I really don’t experience in any other way.
For me, cycling has brought so many wonderful people into my life. It’s broadened my social connections both on and off the bike. Many studies have shown that social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being. One study even showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure!
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. The natural high is amazing.
Flow is what happens when we’re so deeply engaged in something, that we lose track of time, and some have described flow as the secret to happiness. It’s living in the moment, and it’s when we tend to feel most alive! Cycling requires us to be fully engaged like paying attention to speed, traffic, pothole hazards, and increasing pedalling effort when called for, all of which brings us into flow.
Cycling is great for your physical and mental health. You can read more about this in my previous posts. And for me, being healthy makes me happier. It improves my mood and helps me to focus on being grateful for what I have, rather than focusing on small insignificant things.