Staying well - the teachings of my grandpa
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
May you stay well - which you will only if invest in yourself - he would always say.
Background: I am a co-founder of Infiniwell and also a co-founder of Clarity Medical Pvt Ltd, one of India's premier high-tech medical device companies. I grew up in India (rural Punjab) and still have familial and emotional ties to the land of my birth. At Infiniwell, we promote "infinite wellness".... so there is a connection here. Read on:
My parents were teachers and they were stationed in distant cities whereas my school was in our hometown of Faridkot, an erstwhile princely state. It is named after its patron saint Baba Farid. But we digress.
During these struggle times (for our family), my grandfather, Gurbax Singh, volunteered to come and stay with as my guardian angel. I was around 3 then. He was ever present till I was 7 and was a frequent visitor till I went to pursue my engineering at TIET Patiala. After that, I visited him every year untill his passing in 2017 at grand old age of 101.
The man: Gurbax was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to expat parents - from Moga, Punjab, India. He was well educated (Junior Cambridge), spoke Punjabi/Malay and Tamil. At age 18, he joined Royal Air Force (RAF) and was stationed in Bangalore, India during World War-II. However, books was his life and continued to pore over anything that he could lay his hands on till his last days.
The teachings: Living under his care, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was imbibing a tremendous amount of "papaisms" - everyone called in "Papa ji" - "ji" being a mark of respect in India. Over the course of my life, I have found myself following his "isms" to a letter and benefiting. I often share it with friends verbally, till one of them suggested that I ought to write 'em down - to honor the man and to spread his (collected) wisdom. So, here goes:
Overall wellbeing - Must always "watch" your sleep
He would say - Sleep is your friend... your best metric.... if you are sleeping too much or too little or sleeping fitfully, there is something wrong with you... mentally or physically. Pursue it till you have an answer.
My notes: Sleep apnea studies and FitBit and an entire industry would agree with this.
Less is more - Few problems bedevil a man due to less food or less money - all other problems are those of excess
He would say... more than two meals a day, you are just taxing your system. You don't need it and planet can't afford it... it is most probably water you need when you think you need food.
... food is an addiction...perfectly legal... but still an addition. Beware.
... drink food and eat water. Take your time. This is one time in the day you should not be in a rush.... know what you are putting in your mouth.... (related to being in the present)
Fitness - ...should be able to see your belt buckle when you look down.
... if you cannot see it, "your gut is getting in the way of your wellbeing".
My notes: I was rifling thru AARP magazine from May 2021. The following text caught my eye:
".... take a tape measure and wrap it around your midsection at the level of your navel. Despite what jeans marketers have sold us, that's actually where your waist is. If you don't have a tape measure, use a piece of string, then measure the string with a ruler. The American Heart Association says a waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches for women is considered “abdominal obesity,” no matter what your body weight is or how tall you are. ....Now, run the tape over your hip bones at their widest point. Here comes the math: Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. The World Health Organization classifies 0.9 or above in men and 0.85 or above in women as obese."
Fitness - must have one exercise induced sweat a day
...jog or use a flight of stairs or use a skip rope.... you must "test" your body. Put it under physical stress... for us (humans) are pretty decent at attracting mental stress... which no one can see till it is too late.
Power of now - Work hard now and enjoy later - the reverse never pans out
... procrastinate at your own peril... if you "want to lose, then be my guest".
My notes: This advise, drilled into me, maybe the single most important thing that allowed me to escape my economic band.
Power of now - your are "safe in the present moment"
... Past brings Pain and Future bring Fear.... he would say beware of two ugly bookends - PP and FF... he was logical and a great communicator. "You don't want to be living in regrets and fears... in fact, if you do so, you are not living at all... as the present moment is about to flee... if you don't live it, it will become another regret."
... in the current moment, you are safe... you are you. It is just you and your faculties... use them and enjoy.... no body from past or future can "assault" you... if you don't allow it. You are in control in the now.
It takes effort and willpower...
.. it takes effort to move your body....it takes effort to still your mind. Know which one is needed and when.
His parting words: He was around 95 and I was visiting with him. He summoned me to his room and, when we were alone, he whispered, haltingly "...do you remember all my words from over the years, the advise...are you following them?". Rather proudly, I said "Yes Papaji.... to the letter!". Barely I had done speaking he burst out saying - "..Oh my god... forget 'em all.... forget 'em all..". I waited for the explanation, that would surely come, as he was logical. Always.
Gathering his thoughts and energy, he goes "...look at me, I am 95... my wife is long gone, all my friends are gone and my children look and feel older than I am. What good is long life?" He went into a reverie after that and I was called away and soon had to leave.
That was the last meaningful conversation I had with him. Soon after he started to lose all his hearing and sight and he would leave us in 2017. His wisdom will stay with me forever and also his last advise for "moderation of moderation itself".
I am sure he would have a chuckle when he reads this.... 'eh Papaji?