In my eighth month of exploring The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky as a part of my journey on finding happiness in 2011, the month of August was dedicated to the act of increasing flow experiences: Doing more activities that truly engage you, where you completely “lose” yourself, which are challenging and absorbing.
As I discussed last month as I struggled to deal with coping, my new life intention of “I AM PRESENT” came into existence and at the perfect time. Trying to embrace the current moment has been a joy which I’ve been working on doing in a variety of ways:
- running: as the mileage increases on the half marathon schedule, there’s been more hours spent in my running shoes. In the past, that meant overthinking during a run about what I wasn’t doing. Instead, I’ve been focusing on my breathing and pacing – and making huge strides because of it.
- working: instead of letting my to-do list overwhelm me, I’m embracing it, realizing that I am working on something very special and very unique to Cleveland.
- unplugging at night: this has been hard, but I’m doing my best to put down the electronic devices at an earlier time. Some days I’m more successful than others – and I notice a difference when I do.
But the strategy that I’ve enjoyed the most?
Getting my bike ride on.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time recently with @BikeCLE. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting pre-half marathon jitters. Perhaps it’s because Hans and I had a fabulous Saturday afternoon ride a few weekends ago where we caught up after a busy week. But I’ve been lovin’ on my bicycle recently.
On Sunday morning, I took off on my bike on the towpath by myself. I was worried to go alone, but I took my cell as back up. I started on a familiar path:
I had a ten mile long run on the schedule the next day, so I said to myself “ride for five miles or thirty minutes – whichever comes first – then turn around and head back to the start”. No speed expectations, no goals – just a chance to enjoy what’s available to me.
Whom did I see? People enjoying that present moment:
- Folks on cruisers, leisurely pedaling along.
- Cyclists intensely focused as I attempted to stay out of their way
- Fisherman fly fishing along the canal
- Runners with fuel belts and determined looks on their faces
- Couples walking pair by pair, perhaps after a group brunch at the nearby Yours Truly
- Families with kids of all ages, biking along at a variety of speeds
- Pups on walks – some behaving, some not!
What did I see? Parts of our national parks system that I had never seen before.
Perhaps previously I was too distracted to look around and really embrace it all – distracted by overthinking, by over processing. But that day, I was wide open to all the experiences around me. And it was glorious.
Before I knew it, I was back at the start – the Canal Visitor Center.
I made it back a bit faster than anticipated.
That might have been one mile more and four minutes less than my bike ride the week before with the hubby. I got home, showed him my Garmin and he said “I slow you down!” Once this half-marathon is over, I foresee a lot more time on the towpath in my future. Anyone have any fall biathlons to recommend?
LONG STORY SHORT: I thought I was just headed out for a nice easy bike ride that morning, but it was so much more. I left the park feeling as light as I do after a yoga class – all because I took a moment to appreciate what was around me. So shut off those thoughts and open your eyes, kids. BE PRESENT. Beautiful things are all around.