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Shifting Gears

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:04pm


“Life is like a ten-speed bike.  Most of us have gears we never use”

Charles Schultz

If a cyclist had a long trip to make and only used one or two gears the entire trip the trip would be much more difficult than it needed to be. The array of gears on the bicycle are provided to give the cyclist ways to gain efficiency along their trip and not to use them would be rather foolish because one would experience increased fatigue, need more recuperation time and possibly cause or exasperate injuries to muscles and joints.

We are much like the multi-speed bike, we too have many gears to choose from as we make our journey, however for most, it seems as though we only use a couple of those gears. Some people use two gears, fast and really fast! These people spend their day in high gear, peddling at a blinding speed as they approach their work day at break neck speed and continue to pedal fast and furious as they go home, prepare the evening meal, throw a load of laundry in, feed and bathe the children, help with homework, do some household chores and then sit down, flick on the TV and crash before they even get through the show they wanted to watch.

If you are student you day is full of classes, papers, reading assignments, study groups, working a part time job and again crashing the moment you do allow yourself to relax for a few moments, simply to get up the next day to do it all again.

The reality is that we cannot operate at one or two speeds for very long before we pay a price. The price we pay for staying in high gear is often manifested in physical ways, headaches, insomnia, weight gain, high blood pressure, not to mention irritability, low sex drive, etc.

If we are driving our self in high gear all of the time we are most likely not enjoying our life. Our relationships with the most important people in our life are not what they should be and our relationship with our self is disconnected.

Of course there are people who are on the other end of the energy spectrum who are operating in low gear; their two speeds are slow and slower. People who are operating in low gear all the time just can’t seem to find the energy to do anything; they sit and vegetate in front of the TV, at work they tend to do the bare minimum to get by, etc. People in perpetual low gear often feel sluggish, that there get and go got up and went. People in low gear also will sometimes bring on some physical manifestations such as weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, feeling left out, feelings of not belonging, low sex drive, irritability, etc.

Like the 10 speed bike we are equipped with an array of gears, however we often find that we are stuck in the habit of only using a couple of gears as we travel along our journey. When we do not access and use all of our gears we become inefficient in both body and mind and life feels like a chore rather than the joy that it is supposed to be.

It is key to our well being that throughout each day that we are constantly and consciously shifting gears to maintain a healthy balance of spirit and body. When we do this we are more efficient and we are more joyful in each moment of this leg of our journey.

Today, become the observer and note what gears you are using. Are you only using one or two primary gears? Is your overuse of one or two gears setting you up for a less than joyful experience? Note how your under utilization of all gears is impacting your self and your relationships? Consider the long term impacts of accessing and using all the gears that you have available to you.

When I get on a ten speed bike I am never quite sure what gear I should be in. Be brave and experiment, shift gears, play around and see what works for you. Remember just because a gear feels odd or uncomfortable at first does not mean it is the wrong gear for you to be in, you have to give each gear a chance. Take each gear for a test ride and enjoy the sun on your back and the breeze on your face!

Live a joyful life!

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