My Friday morning started in a great way. My daughter, a grade 12 student, had left me a voicemail overnight. She is just done with her pre-boards and the 2-week prep leave for the final exams starts soon.

While I have tried to inspire her by sharing the goodness of running, I have never really pushed her for it. She is fine with sticking to swimming and I have no reason to complain as she has made it twice to the nationals. It’s in discussions on Gymming and workouts that our minds meet. She can totally relate to my 12.5min planks and 5k rowing stints.

For someone who loves being fit, having to stay indoors for months and study can be tough. She was getting mentally drained and finding it tough to take out time for a workout.

So her message was something like this: “Daddy, I realised that cumulatively, I spend more than an hour daily in the washroom, half an hour odd in shower. So, if I can find time for mundane activities, I surely can find 1 hour for fitness; it cannot be that difficult. From today, I will do one activity a day, be it gym, running, cycling, yoga or even do a Zumba class. The variety will ensure that I ‘look forward’ to it.”

Now why such a long story? You must be thinking “come to the point man! Hope this article is not all about your daughter!”. No, it’s not. It’s just to demonstrate how my daughter did not copy my action. She just copied my thought process and implemented it in her own use cases. 

I always believe, our actions speak louder than our words. One just does the good work and people (read your children) will learn. Of course, that’s always a good thing. That’s as far as the giver is concerned. But as a receiver, I believe there is an even better approach to follow: Copy Thought, don’t copy Action.

Just because someone wrote an article on running a marathon, don’t put on your shoes and go for a run yourself. Yes, you heard me right. DONT. Instead what you do is this: Think why does the writer run (to get fit, stay fit, etc) , think about what the writer gains from running (healthy body and mind, less weight, etc). Do you need it (well, we all can do it with a little bit more fitness, but do we all need it all the time?)? Will, you also get it only from running (Maybe, maybe not, there is no guarantee. There are definitely other options, like dieting, gymming, cycling, which might work better for you for different reasons)? ……I hope you got the drift.

Don’t force yourself and say ” let me at least meditate for 10 mins every day for 5 days. Don’t do it because Swamiji told you to. Definitely don’t do it because Hetal wrote an article on meditation at work and you have a meditation room in your office. Yes, you read it right. I am saying DON’T do it. Don’t copy the action. Copy the THOUGHT. Try and address these questions:
  • Do you need meditation?
  • Is your mind agitated all the time?
  • Is it purely your fault that your mind is agitated?
    • Or is it because you have a nasty boss, pesky colleagues, pathetic team members, who just get to your nerves, as much as they would on anyone in your place. Meditation may not necessarily help. Not right away, for sure. Maybe changing job is what you need to do. Or maybe another role in the same company. Just giving meditation a shot, while not harmful for sure, may not be the BEST option for you.
    • Or is it because you have a caustic relationship at home. Things are not working out with your spouse and you guys have tried all options. Maybe it’s time to take a more drastic step. Meditation will help initially, but may not be the most important solution.

You read an article on reading books. Then you see a lot of people commenting, sharing the books they are reading, talking about the books they loved, etc. They just go on and on. They think there is no world outside of books. We should all give up everything and just read books. Right? WRONG… 

What is the purpose of reading books (all fiction lovers, please excuse, only referring to non-fiction books. Those boring, gyani types which are a drag for fiction lovers) – Get wisdom/Get knowledge on a particular topic. So, let’s say I am reading a book on BitCoins. Do you also need to read a book on BitCoins? Do you think books are the only way you can learn about BitCoins? Your cousin in the US is an expert on it, maybe calling him will be an easier option. Checking some YouTube videos could be another option. Or listening to some podcast.

Now replace BitCoin with anything else, like Cooking, Travel, Adventure, Investment, etc. there are alternative ways to gain wisdom. So in a nutshell, you don’t need any more books and you can still gain wisdom on any topic. We are fortunate enough to be in a world that allows that. So if you have been feeling guilty about not reading enough, you can relax!!

Then you might say, but hey, do I need Wisdom? When u think u don’t sir/madame, you will deserve a seat next to Swamiji !!! 

So I shared examples of running, meditation and reading. Because I love doing these activities and I have had a lot of people who have written to me, saying they would also like to run and read as much as I do. But you can apply the same logic when u see someone engaged in any other activity, say cooking, writing, golf, etc. Everyone has a history and background as to why they are doing what they are doing today. It’s not worthwhile to envy and try and copy them. However easy it might look to copy, it’s actually not.

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Hetal Sonpal

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