My grandfather was one of the wisest person I knew. The only reader of non-fiction books in my family was him.
He has been influential in shaping my personality. He died 2 years ago, but these lessons from him are timeless and universal.
1. Always Remember Your Death
He owned a video game parlour. Knew more about PlayStations, latest game titles and hacks than the best gamers of city.
One day I was sitting at his desk, I saw the words “ਮੌਤ” (Death in Punjabi) inscribed in big bold letters. It was very strange for the eight-year-old me. I asked him why these dark words were carved 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 to never 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 everyday, 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
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, rest of day will can be set to autopilot and you’ll often end up having a great day.
But if you start the day slow, doing unimportant and distracting activities then it becomes really difficult to turn the day around.
Create a powerful morning routine and follow it religiously, specially 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 easily.
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 you’re ever given a choice to choose something, always choose the one that can be easily cleaned. He used this for almost everything. For buying his tools, the vehicles, furniture, cloths and so on.
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 totally dedicated to repairing. He looked forward to these days like 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 an amazing way to live your life. Strive to repair whatever needs repairing and help whoever needs helping. 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 a big library of books and spent his time, money and energy on 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 he had. Cleaned them. Revised what he had learnt and shortlisted the books for next few months based on where life is.
I follow this lesson religiously and it has been the biggest 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 to feelings he was and that 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’s make 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 everyday, they keep serving you much longer than if you stopped using them. He made sure to exert his mind and body everyday even in 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 everyday. The best way to teach anything.
Image Credits: Aaron Andrew Ang / Unsplash