Life Patterns

Cycling

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The bicycle is one of humanity’s most recent transportation innovations – more recent even that the locomotive or automobile. It is also perhaps the most healthy, elegantly simple and timeless of all of them.

Cycling is one of the best ways to get low impact cardiovascular exercise. Compared to other means of getting around, it is extremely environmentally friendly. Furthermore, bicycles are beautiful machines, dynamic sculptures that serve a profoundly useful purpose: there is great aesthetic pleasure in the contemplation of a good bicycle. Moreover, by electing to maintain and repair our bicycles ourselves, we are also working to maintain our natural connection to the mechanical nature of our things, so often severed in our relationships with our tech devices.

To be sure, bicycles are not be-all end-all of transportation. While bikes can be ridden very long distances, such marathons are not particularly practical for most of us. Nor are they a good means of transporting large or heavy goods. Seasonal and safety considerations further limit the potential of the bicycle to be a Swiss army knife of transportation for all.

All of that said, in the right context, nothing beats a bike for getting around.

Therefore, whenever possible, use the bicycle as your primary means of mechanical transportation, and incorporate the regular care, maintenance and love of bicycles into your style of life.

Life Patterns

Happiness is love


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Humans require love and connection, more than any other single ingredient, in order to live happy and fulfilling lives.

For more than three quarters of a century, the landmark Grant and Glueck study, led by researchers at Harvard University, has tracked the physical and emotional health of two populations:

  • 456 poor people in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study)
  • 268 graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939–1944 (the Glueck study)

While the study is still ongoing, principal researchers have shared many of the findings to date. Principal among them has been the observation that close, loving relationships, more than wealth, celebrity, social class, genetics, or any other factor, are at the core of what keeps people happy and physically healthy throughout their lives.

“Warmth of relationships throughout life has the greatest positive impact on ‘life satisfaction,'” said George Vaillant, a principal investigator on the study. “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

The Harvard study is only one example from a wide boy of research on the central role of relationships in keeping us healthy and happy.

A second significant body of research indicates that it is possible – and indeed essential – to treat love, and relationship building, as skills that can be sustained and enhanced through hard work. There is, of course, no one simple formula or checklist for cultivating close, loving relationships – everyone is different, and loves differently. What matters most is that we seek out loving, healthy relationships in our own way and on our own terms, and that we recognize the need for ongoing work in this area of our lives.

Therefore, cultivate happiness in your life, and in the lives of those around you, the way a gardener cultivates her plants, providing them the nourishment they need in order to thrive.

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Life Patterns

Walking as transportation and recreation

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More than any other creature on earth, humans have evolved as masters of travel on foot, but our modern lifestyles often alienate us from this key aspect of our being, weakening us both physically and mentally.

Over tens of thousands of years, the human body was our primary mode of transportation; among all species we are the best adapted to cover long distances on foot. As a result of this evolutionary legacy, studies show, we are at our best in our lives when we walk a lot. Our bodies stay strong and mobile, our minds sharp and flexible. Walking costs us nothing, aside from the small amount of fuel it burns in the form of food calories. Compared with other modes of transportation, it is astoundingly environmentally friendly, with no need for heavy, energy-guzzling machines and the expensive infrastructure they rely upon to function.

Of course, walking isn’t always easy today. It is slow compared to other “heavier” modes of transportation. And, moreover, much of today’s world, which prioritizes speed and scale, is optimized to support these faster, more energy-intensive modes at walking’s expense. (Ever tried walking to CostCo?)

And yet, it is still very possible to set up a lifestyle based around walking. There are many communities, and neighbourhoods within these communities, that have a diverse range of amenities within walking distance. This includes practical amenities, such as tktktkt that allow us to incorporate walking into our daily routines and chores. It also includes beautiful spaces, such as parks, attractive streets and campuses, and wilderness areas that provide inviting spaces in which to walk for pure pleasure. There is something fundamentally absurd about individuals driving long distances to workout – perhaps on the treadmill – at vast, expensive chain gyms. Perhaps this is why so many of us, despite the best of intentions, pay for expensive gym memberships that we rarely use. How much better to live a life in which there is no for gyms or the motivation to drag ourselves into them?

Therefore, structure your lifestyle to include regular walking both as a mode of transportation and for pleasure, so that such behavior becomes automatic.

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