The Slow & Steady Path to Happiness

Buddha

I wake up in the morning and find everything calm around. I’m not out of the bed yet, and my eyes are still heavy with sleep, but my mind has already started racing like a wild horse. Racing laden with thoughts of forgotten yesterday, worries of uncertain tomorrow, and anxieties of yet-to-begin today: things I’ve no control over. It is like a scene from an action movie where one moment everything is still and the very next everything starts exploding.

The wandering thoughts create noise on all spheres of my brain. The greatest impact of this noise is that it clogs my creativity, clogs the power to imagine, clogs the power to think clearly. Because before I can contemplate, I’m worried; before I can imagine, I’m resolving things of the future. So I close my eyes to shut it all out.

Inside my mind it is like a busy square with the thoughts like cars – large and small – all honking and wheeling in a haste. Then, with the eyes closed, I fall asleep again only to raise after few minutes with the mind still racing as before. And the assault of the mind continues throughout the day, until dinner when my mind is more exhausted than my body.

So what should I do? Should I change my job? Or change my society? Or change my life?
How can I escape this noise? How can I detoxify my mind? How do I get out of the habit of thinking (and worrying) all day long?

I’ve identified and acknowledged the problem and I’ve started working on it. I took a closer look of my daily routine and realized that the problem is not the job or society but my own life. And things need to change!

So the first change I’m trying to incorporate is: Quality Internet. I’ve resolved to not check my email every fifteen minutes, to not unlock my cellphone on every notification, to stay away from my laptop as much as possible. For this I’ve started to keep the mobile internet off most of the time. I’ve started to leave my office chair after every half an hour and walk around. This is the first change I’m trying to accommodate and convert into a habit.

Second change I’m working over is morning walk & exercise. Not a heavy workout like the pros, but a light jogging to the nearest park, some relaxing exercises, and small ‘sitting idle with closed eyes’ in a fresh, cold morning air of the mountains. And this is one change I’m actually enjoying more than I had expected. It greatly helps the mind to calm down, the stray thoughts to vent out, and my body is charged for the day.

I feel blessed that I live in the mountains where I can take in as much as fresh air as I want. When I finally sit in the park with my eyes closed, I see more than what I see with open eyes. I hear mynas chirping on a tree to the right, then I hear bleating of a goat on a distant hill. Next, a wild rooster hoots in a bush nearby. And the sound of the fresh stream strolling down the hill is music. This jogging, exercising, and relaxing takes thirty minutes of my morning time, but these well-spent minutes make the greatest impact on my day.

The third change, not a change actually but it now has a new meaning for me, is morning music. I tune in to instrumentals & devotional music in the morning and though I should actively listen to it, the passive listening (with some work at hand) is also a pleasurable and uplifting experience. I used to listen to music every morning before also but after the jogging & exercise, music sounds even better.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

Now this is not a final routine and I’m not seeking perfection. In fact, the pattern of my daily exercises is not even fixed, the music I hear has varied timings: sometimes I listen for ten minutes, sometimes I get more than an hour. But the experience has a promise of cure, and it seems a lifelong journey…

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This article: ‘Want to be happy? Slow down’ at TED Ideas has greatly motivated me and reinforced my faith that I’m on the right track. Please do read it. And Stay Happy!

Some Tips for Better Cycling

bike

After some experience in cycling, here are few observations I’ve made over time. Though they are pure common sense, still we need to keep them in mind to have a better riding experience.

1. Understand your Bike

Take time to know your bike. See if everything is working fine. Check for any abnormal sound and adjust the levers as per your need. Adjust your seat post so that you feel comfortable while riding. Know what gear combination works best for you. For clarifications contact your nearest dealer, or surf the internet, or check videos on Youtube.

2. Anticipate the Road

Look ahead for wet road, loose gravel, or sudden bends and curves. Slow down before you actually reach the bad part.

3. Shift Gears in Advance

Especially if you are about to climb uphill. When you shift gears at the last moment, you put your pedal chain into too much stress, which leads to its wear and tear.

4. Think Safety

Always wear helmet and never ride on the wrong lane.

5. Stay Hydrated

Drink before you feel, drink more than you need. Mix glucose in your bottle if you are going for a long ride.

6. Be Cautious with the Traffic

Some people drive like crazy. You are a safe rider but the other guys on the road can make mistake – always keep this in mind, and never hesitate in going off the road to give way to other vehicles.

7. Eat Chocolates & Fruits on the Go

Chocolates are a good source of energy and so are fruits. Carry 2-3 chocolate bars and some bananas next time you go for a ride.

8. Fear but Don’t Fear

Fear is good, it keeps our mind alert – fear of getting hit by some vehicle, fear of running over an animal. So don’t be overconfident, have some fear.

But don’t fear too much that you feel uncomfortable while riding. Have confidence. Confidence helps us make quick decisions in the confusing situations.

9. Stay Alert – Use your Senses

I’ve seen some people putting on music (earphones) while riding, which I think is quite dangerous. While riding you’ve to keep your senses alert. Listen to the sound of vehicles approaching from behind, protect your eyes with goggles, become alert if some foul smell comes from any of the parts of your cycle. Always keep your senses open.

10. Relax & Have Fun

Last but not the least. Don’t sit too tight, and don’t hold your handlebar as if you are about to fall. Just sit back and relax. It’s important to have fun. If you don’t enjoy it, why do it?

Did I miss anything? Share your tips as comments.

Why Cycling is Good For You

Trek 3700 Disc

When I bought my Trek bike, it was purely for fun and to spend time in nature – which I love the most. Little did I know that it would change my life for so much better. Here I share with you the benefits I have reaped through cycling, in a hope that you too will take up cycling as a hobby.

1. No tummy – better health

After one month of cycling, my beer belly feels less protruded. 😀

2. Eat what you want

Yes, no more guilty feeling on having few extra Pooris. When you know you are burning more calories than you take, you can eat what you want (not to be taken literally 😛 ).

3. Better than walking

Walking is boring, isn’t it? Cycling allows us to explore new areas – that is why it was ‘love at first ride’ for me.
Trek 3700 Disc

4. Easy on the pocket

Peddling to the local market not only keeps you fit, but also helps you save money which you would have spent on the fuel. Some people even cycle to work.

5. You don’t have to stop at the petrol pumps

When the cars are slowing down to turn left or right for the petrol pump, you can keep on riding straight.

6. No toll tax

Great, isn’t it?

7. No stopping by the police

You don’t need a licence to ride a cycle (at least in India). So no more stopping by the traffic police.
Trek 3700 on the road

8. Helps save the environment

Imagine, if everyone cycles to their office, school, or local market at least once in a week, how much change it can bring for the environment.

9. No visits to the doctors

Doctors are already over-stressed. Their life would be much relaxed if each one of us starts cycling.

10. Better Sleep

Yes, an hour of cycling helps fight insomnia (medically proved, I forgot the source), and you feel so much better the next morning.

11. Better Digestion

A bad stomach is a source for all the diseases. Do I need to say more?
My Trek 3700

12. High Confidence

Cycling keeps me stress free and boosts my confidence. Now, I’m more positive in the adverse situations.

So, this is all I have for now. I’ll keep on adding points as I explore more. But, are you taking up cycling?

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The Search for a Perfect Bike

Bike

Potbellies are ugly, aren’t they? My beer belly, though in its primary stage, is a constant source of ridicule for me. Well, not literally, but it’s like you ask a fellow for a ride on his bicycle and he frowns at you. Or, you run for the elevator and the guy inside closes the door before you could make it.
So shunning all the embarrassment, I’ve decided to take up cycling to get back into shape.

Selecting a bike is a real headache, especially if it’s your first. There are so many brands and so many models to choose from. In this post I’ve shared the thinking process that went into choosing a bike for myself.

Identifying the need

This is the most important step and helps greatly in making the choice. I needed a bike for fitness and local travel. Though I’ll be driving mostly on the tarmac, I opted for a mountain bike instead of a road bike, because the condition of the roads in the mountains (where I live) changes from season to season – in the summers you have great roads and after the rains they just disappear. So a road bike won’t be able to take the abuse of the mountain roads.

There is nothing called a perfect bike – one bike can’t meet all your requirements. So I prioritized the features I needed.

My Requirement:

A bike that can work on poor roads.

Must have features:

  • Disc Brakes: As the roads here have steep descents, disc brakes will do better than the normal brakes. So disc brakes were my first priority.
  • Gears: Gears make the climb easy. And for the long distance travel, where your priority is to reach the destination anyhow, they are a blessing.
  • Front Suspension: Keeping in mind the condition of the roads here, a front suspension was a must, so that my arms don’t hurt.
  • Comfort: Initially I was inclined towards Cannondale Trail 6 for better looks, but after going through many reviews on the internet I learn’t that Trek bikes are more comfortable than the Cannondales.
  • Tyres: The tyres of a mountain bike would give in easily on the tarmac, and that of a road bike would fail on the harsh roads, so I needed a bike with tyres which have center threads designed for roads and the outer ones for off-road conditions.

There is one bike which meets all the above requirements. So ladies & gentlemen, hold your breath! Here I present before you, my new road monster, a Trek 3700 Disc 2013.
Trek 3700 Disc India

Thank you, thank you! 🙂