Ed Note

Bakersfield Life Magazine Editor Mark Nessia and his pug Tina Louise bike the streets of Los Angeles during CicLAvia. 

I get a lot of mixed reactions when I tell people how much I like to ride my bike.

Saying I like to ride my bike is an understatement, I’ll admit, considering I logged 286 hours, 38 minutes, in the saddle last year, totaling 4,312 miles and 119,058 feet of climbing over the course of 156 rides.

Call me biased, but I think cycling is amazing. It’s something that keeps you active and healthy that you can keep doing into your elderly years because of its low-impact nature. As wonderful as that is, that’s not the main reason I ride as much as I do.

I ride because it makes me happy — simple as that. It’s my happy place.

Many worries and frustrations have been pedaled away throughout the course of the year, whether it be an organized event like the Tehachapi Gran Fondo, a Saturday outing with the Kern Wheelmen recreational group or going on a leisurely ride with Tina Louise on my back (cycling makes her happy, too).

We should all make time to do the things that bring us joy. As busy as our lives can be, I’m sure we can carve out some time to do something that we naturally enjoy.

It’s easy to feel inadequate in today’s social media age, with endless feeds showcasing people living their best lives. But we shouldn’t compare our lives to the digital highlight reels of others.

Happiness is letting go of what you think life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for what it is. To be content with everything you have rather than yearning for what is out of reach. That is when everything falls perfectly into place.

Happiness comes as a result of our own actions — a direct reflection of how we view the world around us. Are our actions dictated by our own desires or to gain the approval of others? Happiness is not striving for perfection, but rather finding beauty in the imperfections, for there can be no happiness without a little bit of sadness. It’s about striving to be better than your previous self, not someone else. What we do should be in pursuit of making ourselves and those we care about happy, for happiness is infectious and we should spread it to as many people as we can.

We all deserve to be happy, so let’s devote more time during the new decade in our happy place with the people we want to be happy with.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy being in the moment. Because happiness is found in the experiences that can’t be put into words or captured in a photo.

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