Two recent experiences really brought home an important life lesson for me. There’s a physics law (I can’t remember which one) that recognizes that an object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion stays in motion.
As applied to life, what this means is that when we stop doing an activity, the natural state is to continue to have it missing from our lives. It takes considerable effort to start up again. But once we do make that effort, it’s natural to keep doing the new activity.
Let me illustrate with these two recent lessons:
- A friend of mine was fairly active in his childhood and teens. Growing up, soccer, mountain biking, and skiing were regular parts of his life. Living in Kitsilano in his mid-20s, his summers involved beach volleyball and winter weekends were spent skiing at Whistler. But then he moved away to where physical activity wasn’t a part of the norm. He changed jobs to be a part of an ambitious tech start-up company (read: crazy work hours) and had his first child. Suddenly it’s been a decade since his active life. After two years of hearing him complain about his belly, he bought a mountain bike and found a group fellow out-of-shape 40 year old fathers to meet up with to go biking. I can tell that he not only is having fun being on a bike again but that he feels proud of himself for being active.
- I too recently got back on my bike. For me it was 2 years that it collected dust. As opposed to my friend, I’m not a mountain biker. I have a clunky old bike that I enjoy riding around the city in the summers. Each spring, for the last 15 years, I take my bike in for a tune up and then ride it as my primary mode of transport until the rains start up again in the fall. It’s one way to include non-exercise activity in my life. Except for last year. Last spring I was focused on growing my practice and travelling between Vancouver, Victoria and Portland. My bike was in my parents’ garage from my complicated move the previous fall. And having returned to Victoria after living in Vancouver for 14 years, I didn’t have a bike mechanic. As I type these reasons out I can see how flimsy they are as excuses to not make biking happen. But they did stop me. However, this year I was determined to not spend another summer without a bike. I made it happen and yesterday I enjoyed my first bike ride in 2 years. I enjoyed the Victoria Day parade and a short bike ride with a friend. I don’t want to admit how sore I am from that short ride. But I truly enjoyed myself and am proud of myself for getting biking back in my life again. I know that now that I’ve gotten in motion again, I’ll stay in motion.
What is it that you want to include in your life? Do you want to be more active (like my friend and I)? Do you want to eat healthier? Do you want to be more mindful? Starting a new behaviour is the most difficult step. Once you’ve started, it quickly becomes a habit. Some theories indicate that it takes 40 days for a new action to become a habit. What I know is that we’re no different than the rest of nature:
An object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion stays in motion.
Life passes by quickly. Don’t stay stuck in wishing you were living a different life. Make the effort (perhaps with help) to get in motion.