My grandfather was one of the wisest people I knew. The only reader of non-fiction books in my family was him.
He has been influential in shaping my personality. He died two years ago, but these lessons from him are timeless and universal.
1. Always Remember Your Death
He owned a video game parlor, knew more about PlayStations, the latest game titles, and hacks than the best gamers of the city.
One day I was sitting at his desk, I saw the words “ਮੌਤ” (Death in Punjabi) inscribed in big, bold letters. It was bizarre for the eight-year-old me. I asked him why he carved these dark words on his desk.
He said, “My breath and my death are the only truths. Everything else is either a deception, an experience of my beliefs, or a figment of my imagination. I wish never to forget these two truths. I meditate to remember my breath, but I always forget my death. Hence a daily reminder of my death before I start my day. I have another in my wallet and one as a bookmark in my currently-reading book. A dozen times every day, I’m reminded of my death. That keeps me honest, focused, and productive.”
The concept of remembering your death is now popular due to the rise of interest in Stoicism. But it has been taught in many other religious scriptures, including Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs.
I’m not planning to release coins of death engraved with ਮੌਤ anytime soon, but it might not be a bad idea.
2. What You Do Every Morning is Way More Important Than Everything Else You Do All Day
A morning routine is the most powerful ritual you can adopt in your life. Whatever you value the highest, put that in your morning routine.
The way you start your day will define the quality, mood, mindset, and output for the rest of the day. If you get the most important things done in the morning, the rest of the day will be set on autopilot, and you’ll often end up having a great day.
But if you start the day slow, doing unimportant and distracting activities, it becomes challenging to turn the day around.
Create a powerful morning routine and follow it religiously, especially on the off days. You’ll grow exponentially.
3. Clean Your Workplace Thoroughly
Your environment is not just a reflection of your mind; it’s deeply linked to it. So cleaning and decluttering your environment cleans and declutters your mind. You will work with clarity, make better connections, and won’t get tired quickly.
These concepts felt borderline superstitious to me as a child. But as I grew up and created my own spaces to study and work, the power of cleaning showed up evidently.
4. Don’t Buy Fancy, Buy Cleanable
If given a choice to choose something, always choose the one that can be cleaned easily. He used this for almost everything – to buy his tools, vehicles, furniture, clothes, etc.
This lesson has saved me countless hours on the cleaning days. And cleanable stuff gets cleaned more often, so it also helps with Rule #3.
5. Repairing & Fixing Things is the Best Form of Leisure
There was never a day I didn’t see him repair something. Off days were dedicated to restoring. He looked forward to these days as a child looks forward to Halloween.
He suggested, “Learn to repair every single thing you own. Once done with your own, repair broken things of others”. This made me curious and happy to disassemble and re-assemble my toys, electronic devices, and other stuff at my home. That was all I wanted to do in my free time.
Now, as an adult, I think this doubles as a fantastic way to live your life. Strive to repair whatever needs repairing and help whoever needs help. Always start with yourself. Repair yourself and stuff in your room. Then do your home, your street, your locality, your community, and so on.
When in doubt, Repair Shit.
6. Create Your Own library. Never Stop Reading & Learning
He had an extensive library of books and spent his time, money, and energy reading and learning. He read everything from self-help to religious scriptures, from scientific papers to biographies.
Every few months, he went through every book, cleaned them, revised what he had learned, and shortlisted the books for the next few months based on where life is.
I follow this lesson religiously, and it has been the most significant accessory to my growth so far.
7. It’s ok for Men to Cry
He used to get emotional listening to music, reading a touching story, or watching a sad scene in a movie. He never felt embarrassed to cry in front of us.
This made us know him and love him even more. We understood how compassionate and sensitive he was, which helped us express our true feelings easily.
Expressing yourself freely is a brave thing to do. That doesn’t make you less of a man; it makes you more of it.
8. Don’t Retire, Until Your Body Does
Up until his body gave up, he never retired from work or workouts. I never saw him free or wasting time.
He believed our bodies and brains work in magical ways. If you take care of them and make use of them every day, they keep serving you much longer than if you stopped using them. He made sure to exert his mind and body every day, even in the late 80s. He used to put guys in their 30s to shame.
There is always something to do, something that only you can do.
He never taught us anything by preaching. He taught us by living these lessons himself every day—the best way to teach anything.
Image Credits: Aaron Andrew Ang / Unsplash