"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." said Albert Einstein. If you've ever been on a bicycle this quote kinda sounds like a no brainer, if you stop pedaling you will fall, but it also holds true once you step off the bike and into the world. Whether you call it balance, passion, grit or hustle... it is fueled by your commitment to keep on moving, once you stop you lose momentum and eventually fall. However, when you keep on moving, you pick up momentum and before you know it you're coasting at 40+ mph enjoying the ride, overcoming fears and completing milestones. Once you get at taste of THAT, you don't want to go back.
Why am I comparing riding a bike to life? I just got back from completing my 5th AIDS Lifecycle ride, an amazing charity ride supporting HIV/AIDS education and services.
After spending 7 days on a bicycle, pedaling 545 miles down the coast of California surrounded by 2500 people and countless strangers cheering from the side of the road... I came home with a serious case of the blues.
I've struggled with assigning words to capture the physical, emotional, spiritual experiences I had over the course of these 7 days. It was exhilarating and it was painful. It was empowering and it was defeating. It was lonely and it was sociable.
It was experiencing life in its fullest.
When I crossed the finish line I broke down into tears not because I was exhausted or tired but because it was over.
When I heard we raised over 16 million dollars this year, I felt a surge of emotion take over me... a feeling of connection to something larger than life.
When I returned home, I spent days wondering about my bicycle ride as a metaphor for life. I was in state of flow while on the bicycle. Being off of it I wondered what triggered my flow state and how I could cultivate it in my daily life.
My first introduction to the concept of flow was in 2010 when I read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 's book, Flow (I highly recommend this book). In it, he describes a mind state where "people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life".
A few pages into that book, I was ready to sign up! There was only one problem... there was no dotted line to sign on. The only way to tap into flow is through the experience (and experiment) of life. So I got to living.
In reflecting on my experience of being on a bicycle for one week, I noticed some recurring qualities which were present everyday. As a result my days influenced my attitude, emotions, happiness and ultimately triggered my flow state.
Here are the 9 simple ways to create more flow in your day:
1. Have a clear purpose
2. Complete something every day
3. Surround yourself with supportive people who cheer you on
4. When you fall down, get right back up and move forward
5. Stay committed to the end goal
6. Take risks, overcome fears
7. Search for the wisdom (growth) in each challenge
8. Trust the process
9. Be of selfless service
With all of these qualities present at the same time, strangers became friends and fears turned into growth. I was hustling everyday whether that meant waking up early to get out of camp before others, or pedaling faster. I was gritty and resilient... unbearable weather, mechanical failures, and fatigue were not going to stop me. At times I screamed with fear and other times with joy. I was mindful of my place on this universe and humbled by the force of nature. And with all of that I felt extremely alive.
Flow off the bicycle and into the world
Feeling alive doesn't have to involve checking out of everyday life and riding a bicycle, it can be done anywhere; anytime but it requires commitment, conscious effort, and clarity.
Structure each day, week, month, year to include activities and goals that align with these 9 qualities of life and work towards them. At the end of each day, week, month, and year evaluate and celebrate the milestones achieved. Doing this consistently will trigger a state of flow and improve your overall happiness.
Keep in mind this is life that your living, strive for progress not perfection.
As always don't just take my word for it, experiment on your own. Take a moment to see how you can weave these into your life starting today, and begin to make shift happen.
Mindfulness doesn't require five days in silence or hours under a banyan tree. Sign up to get a free "Press Pause" audio meditation to add a dose of mindfulness to your well being journey in less than five minutes.
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