Yes, cycling taught me a lesson that’s so valuable that it can be applied to all parts of our lives. The other day I was cycling back from work. It’s about a 20-minute ride if you cycle like your life depends on it. Yet if you take it more relaxed it’s about… Let me put it this way, it wasn’t a massive difference. What did make a massive difference was the way I felt. That very same morning I left home just a bit too late, I had to rush my way to work. Every leg stroke was a push, and after some time my legs started to burn. Sweat started to pour out like the Niagara Falls, and soon it was dripping down my face.
I wasn’t paying close attention to the time, I was just putting my everything into it, making sure I wouldn’t be late. When I arrived at work, I looked at my watch. Only 20 minutes had passed, I was 10 minutes early. Which gave me some time to cool down from my intense workout. I worked the entire morning, never thinking about it again. Just like most people, once in a while, I’m just a bit late for work, the cause? Not sure doesn’t matter either. What matters is the way back. This is what stunned me.
I was done working, it was about 30 degrees Celsius and it was time for me to get on my bike and make my way back home. Same route, same bike, same weather conditions, except the heat. I was a bit tired from work, so I decided to take it slow. I put in my earphones, enjoyed listening to the latest J. Cole album. It was a pleasant ride. Enjoying the sun, not pushing too much, not stressing too much. Before I knew it I was back home. I took off my bag and looked at my watch. I was shocked. Only 25 minutes had passed. Only a 5 minutes difference from my ‘cycle as if your life depends on it’ ride that morning. This taught me a valuable lesson. One I will not soon forget.
Only A 5 Minute Difference
“That can’t be right?!” I thought to myself. I felt exhausted, drained, my legs were burning, and I was sweating like crazy that morning. The way back, it was pleasant, no burning legs, no exhaustion, I enjoyed the sounds of nature, was grateful for my body, listened to music, and smiled at some strangers. That afternoon bike ride back home was purely enjoyable. I decided to do this again the next day. I wanted to see if it was true, or if it was pure luck, or maybe the wind playing with me.
Two days later I had to go to work again. I wasn’t late, yet I decided to stretch myself. To give it my everything and try to get to work as quickly as possible. The condition was great, no wind, a bit of sun. A pleasant summer morning. I drove the same route, with the same bike, and it took me the same amount of time. 20 minutes. Again. Nothing changed there. That afternoon, when I was finish work, I got back on my bike. I checked my watch. It was 12:40 as I started riding back home. Just like two days before I took it nice and slow. Made the most of my ride, and when I got home I quickly checked my watch. 13:04. That’s what the watch face showed me. Only 24 minutes. This time only a 4-minute gap.
It was true. I had made sure to feel if there was any wind, but there wasn’t. The weather condition was the same, the bike, the road, everything. It was all the same. There was only a difference of 4 minutes now. I decided to let it go. It is, what it is. I thought to myself. Yet I couldn’t let it go. My mind kept thinking about it unconsciously. It was trying to teach me a lesson, and then it hit me.
It wasn’t how much effort, how much pressure I put into things that made things go quicker. It was all about relaxing, enjoying, flowing through my life, that was what made things feel effortless.
I was working. Sitting down at my desk, trying to pump out another article. I felt anxious, rushed, and my brain felt the same way my legs felt that morning. It felt burned and exhausted. It was at that moment that everything made sense. It wasn’t how much effort, how much pressure I put into things that made things go quicker. It was all about relaxing, enjoying, flowing through my life, that was what made things feel effortless. The bike rides too, and from, work were a reminder of this.
There was only a 4 to 5-minute difference between pushing hard, and stretching my body, and relaxing, and enjoying the ride. A difference that wasn’t such a big contrast. Not to me anyway. So does that mean that all the effort I put into things, all the pushing and pressure I put on myself, is worthless?
Is Pressure Worthless?
I thought about it. If there was only a small-time difference between pushing myself to the limit or enjoying the ride, wouldn’t that mean there was a decrease of value when I put pressure on my work, and life as well? That’s when I realized, that all this time I had been approaching my obstacles in life the wrong way. I was stressing out, putting pressure on myself, straining myself, and feeling exhausted afterward.
I remembered that as a teenager I would learn for about 2 to 3 hours each day for a test. I would strain myself by forcing myself to focus. I put pressure on myself, by telling myself that I only had 3 hours to study. When I finished I felt mentally depleted and tired. I was pushing myself to the limit, but at what cost. In this case, the cost of mental energy, which resulted in a cost of happiness. You see, when I was straining my brain by focusing for such long stretches in one go, I was depleting it of energy. When I finished learning my brain was so depleted of energy that I couldn’t enjoy whatever it was I would do next. I didn’t enjoy reading a book or having dinner with family, or even playing video games.
Pressure and pushing ourselves is only exhausting the body, the mind, or the spirit so that we will enjoy our lives less.
I often didn’t sleep well. By pressurizing and straining the mind it isn’t tired it just doesn’t have any energy left to focus. It means that your mind is exhausted and that will lead to stress and anxiety, which in their turn will cause less quality of sleep. By observing myself cycling I learned a valuable lesson. That, pressure and pushing ourselves is only exhausting the body, the mind, or the spirit so that we will enjoy our lives less. We can always push for more, we can strain ourselves to do more, to work harder, to lift heavier weights, or to be quicker, but that strain, that pressure we put on ourselves will eventually deplete us, and exhaust us. Leaving us tired, down, and unable to enjoy and experience the richness of life.
By pressurizing and straining the mind it isn’t tired it just doesn’t have any energy left to focus. It means that your mind is exhausted and that will lead to stress and anxiety, which in their turn will cause less quality of sleep and life.
Cycling showed me that yes there is a small difference between pressure and relaxation, but that difference is not worth the cost. It is not worth it to burn yourself out, for the benefit of being quicker. Why? You might ask, after all, you are quicker at something, that is a benefit, right? Well for that we should ask ourselves, why are we living? Why are we alive? Why do we do what we do in our lives?
If you’d ask a lot of people to answer those questions, you will have a largely similar set of responses. We are alive to enjoy life, that’s why we do what we do. We work to earn money in the hopes to buy or do things that make us happy. Or we strive for a dream job because that will make us enjoy life. Everything we do in life is so we can enjoy life. But you see, there are obstacles on our way to achieving those dreams. Creating a dream career for yourself takes effort, and you will face obstacles. Getting sixpack abs will be a journey and will know its obstacles. Having a loving relationship with your spouse will take effort, and will also have its obstacles.
This might make you think that we can never be happy, after all, obstacles aren’t to be enjoyed. But these bicycle rides that I shared with you showed me otherwise. During the morning rides, I pushed myself to the limit, to be on time. The afternoon rides I allowed myself to enjoy them, to take everything in, and be happy. The obstacle in both rides was the same, which was to get from point a to point b. Only I created an obstacle out of this for myself in the morning, whereas in the afternoon there was no obstacle. I simply enjoyed the ride.
That philosophy on life, or rather lesson on life can be applied to everything. Want to get your work done before 5 p.m.? Well, don’t put that much pressure on yourself, get to work, enjoy it, do what you can. You’ll see that a lot of it is done by 5 p.m. most of the time everything will be done. Want to enjoy a loving relationship with family, friends, or your spouse? Don’t push it too much, don’t try to force things, don’t put pressure on it. Just enjoy the time you have, ask if they want to meet up, be kind, listen to them, enjoy it. Don’t strain yourself to make the most of it, don’t pressure the other to make the most of it. Let go of the pressure. Release it.
By putting pressure on ourselves to solve things as quickly as possible, or to do as much as possible we deny ourselves the possibility to enjoy life. To make the most of every minute.
Like you release the tension in your legs as you take your time with cycling. Tension and pressure can only cause exhaustion and damage. You and I are inevitably gonna face obstacles in life, in all parts of life. Whether that be work, relationships, spirituality, mental health, health, or anything else, but by putting pressure on ourselves to get out as quickly as possible. By putting pressure on ourselves to solve things as quickly as possible, or to do as much as possible we deny ourselves the possibility to enjoy life. To make the most of every minute.
The gain of speed will never stand up to the loss of enjoyment, and experience.
That’s what riding my bike taught me, that however hard I can push myself, and put pressure on myself, the gain will not compare to the loss. Because the gain of speed will never stand up to the loss of enjoyment, and experience. Life is meant to be experienced, observed, and enjoyed. Every minute of it. Pressure, speed, and pushing ourselves will only deprive us of that experience of life. Release your tension, on your body, on life, on the things you want, on the people in your life. Let it be effortless and free-flowing. Everything will be alright, enjoy the ride. And as always remember to end your day and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.
If you’d like to dive deeper into releasing that pressure in your life. To realize the tension on yourself when obstacles arise. Or if you want to learn to enjoy the ride of life, even when there are obstacles. Then I want to invite you to listen to the Just Now podcast. The Just Now podcast is a place for you to just be for a moment. To feel, experience, and understand what it means to be alive. The episodes all give extra clarity on topics discussed in the articles I write through short mindful guided meditations and reflective questions. Serving as a daily check-in to yourself. So If you want to experience more clarity on this topic and transform your life, by starting on a journey of self-discovery. Then I want to invite you to listen to the Just Now Podcast.
I hope to speak to you there, for now, remember today you live! Make the most of it.