What Motorcycles Teach About Happiness

For 23 years I’ve been riding motorcycles. Mopeds mostly. Riding has always made me happy!

For most motorcycle riders it’s not riding that makes them happy. It’s buying, showing off or escaping from the otherwise boring life. There are some other reasons. And all of them are OK. Whatever works for you! You enjoy wearing leather? Sitting on a heavy, powerful machine? You like to feel something big and strong between your legs? Go ahead, treat yourself. Have a motorcycle!

But for me it has always been just the ride.

That’s the reason why my bikes were always small, weak, quite ugly and a bit dirty. It’s because I don’t care for bikes. I care for riding!

During those 20 years I had 5 different machines and I have never bought a dedicated motorcycle gloves, boots or a jacket. If it had not been required by the law, I would not have even had a helmet. Same reason: I don’t care. It doesn’t make me happy what I wear. The less the better. The riding makes me happy and I want to feel it!

Simson S51 enduro
My first motorcycle look like this. It was Simson S51 Enduro. It was piece of crap and I loved it.

What about safety, you ask?

Well, I didn’t care much about safety either. After all, it’s not safety that makes me happy. Riding makes me happy. Simple? It is for me.

If it is safety that makes you happy, why would you want to ride a motorcycle at all? There are lots of riders out there that are safety lovers. It’s the first, second and third priority when they are on the road. Good, fine, but I have a better solution: why don’t you stay at home? You’ll be much happier, because it’s safer. And it’s cost less too.

See, that’s the same old problem again: people don’t do things that make them happy. They do things for the craziest reasons. You love riding? Ride! You love safety? Stay at home! Whatever. Do what you want. Just don’t lie to yourself, why would you want that?

Let me tell you about one little adventure of mine.

During one of my really long distance trips on a really small moped, I met two riders on a road. We all stood at the same crossroad, close to each other. They looked at me. I look at them. I definitely had more pleasure out of it.

They had two shiny, polished huge motorcycles, brand new awesome jackets and gloves that could have been more expensive than my bike, I’m not sure. Everything they had was clean, fresh, polished and looked awesome.

So they just gave me one look from their high impressive horses and smiled with disregard. Didn’t wave, didn’t nod, didn’t even talk to me.

And no wonder! My bike was small, slow, uncomfortable and dirty. So was my face as it was getting late and I was tired. I don’t think I was wearing any jacket at all. My jeans had holes and quite a bit of grease. I didn’t look impressive at all. But I made three hundred kilometers that day on a small 50cm3 bike, and 2 or 3 thousand since I left home. I was in the saddle for two weeks and nothing was polished, clean or new.


Because I love riding! I enjoy a challenge too, so I didn’t make it too easy for myself. If I’m to accomplish something, I want it to be risky and difficult. That makes me happy.

Those two guys could have learnt something, but did something really stupid instead: they judged someone else with their own measure. Oh, bad idea. Don’t do it. If you do, you usually end up looking like a fool.

Because the look, price tags and specs – that’s what makes some people happy. And those two bikers where of that sort. So a Sunday trip, 50km or so, while wearing nice cloths on nice machines, it is all they want. It’s about showing off, let’s be honest.

And it’s fine! It makes them happy? Fantastic. Do it, no matter what anybody else says.

But when you look at happiness of someone else, think about it for a second. He is not you. So there is a chance he drinks his happiness from a different fountain. Be careful. In the happy world of big machines and expensive gear I was less than nothing, but on the other hand those guys wouldn’t last two days on my trip. So how should we judge each other?

We shouldn’t. Why? I didn’t really expect them to ride for days in the most difficult way possible, I understand it’s crazy for most people. Those guys seemed happy with their idea of joy. And I was glad. They seemed quite happy.

Why couldn’t they enjoy my smiling face?

I don’t know. But I wish they were part of a “To Be Happy Club“, I wish they enjoyed their own happiness without the need of imposing it on others. Shouldn’t a happy person be even happier when he meets another happy person? Is that too much to ask?

Yes, it is. So it seems. But I I’m not sure why. It shouldn’t be.

Be happy that I am happy. Do not dismiss my happiness only because it doesn’t fit your world! Your reasons are not my reasons, it’s natural, but if the result is the same – happiness – doesn’t it make us brothers? So let’s act like brothers.

Just as Schiller once said in a poem that was used in a well-known song (I’m sure you heard it before). In English it goes like this, more or less:

Your magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers,
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, Ode to Joy

So let me celebrate buying a new (sixths!) motorcycle by saying this: let’s act like brothers! Or sisters.

Let’s all try to be happy. And let’s learn to enjoy happiness together.

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