Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling On Happiness, explained the commuting paradox this way: “Most good and bad things become less good and bad over time as we adapt to them. However, it is much easier to adapt to things that stay constant than to things that change. So we adapt quickly to the joy of a larger house, because the house is exactly the same size every time. But we find it difficult to adapt to commuting by car, because every day is a slightly new form of misery.”
The sad part is that the more we flock to high‑status cities for the good life – money, opportunity, novelty – the more crowded, expensive, polluted and congested those places become. The result? Surveys show that Londoners are among the least happy people in the UK, despite the city being the richest region in the UK.
Robert Thayer, a professor of psychology at California State University, fitted dozens of students with pedometers, then sent them back to their regular lives. Over the course of 20 days, the volunteers answered survey questions about their moods, attitudes, diet and happiness. Within that volunteer group, people who walked more were happier.
The same is true of cycling, although a bicycle has the added benefit of giving even a lazy rider the ability to travel three or four times faster than someone walking, while using less than a quarter of the energy. They may not all attain Judge’s level of transcendence, but cyclists report feeling connected to the world around them in a way that is simply not possible in the sealed environment of a car, bus or train. Their journeys are both sensual and kinesthetic.
Read the whole story: The Guardian