“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
This quote is a favourite of many Instagrammers and finds its way to many WhatsApp message inboxes in a ‘good morning’ wrapping. It has been attributed to Lao Tzu, The Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and even Margaret Thatcher. So who said this?
I have a question for you. How much does your phone cost?
Chances are that you did a lot of research on the best device out there, its features – memory, screen size, retina or Super Retina, etc. etc. Asked friends and family (mostly friends), went onto online forums to check reviews, and well, finally bought a brand new shining piece of hardware, that you even took an unboxing video of. Selfies galore followed, and within a year, the upgraded model came along, that got you thinking again…
Another question. How much does your car cost?
Now this is a different level of research. Mileage and maintenance yes, but features are what actually made a huge difference. Leather seats, rear-view cameras, alloy wheels, sound system…too many factors out there to confuse you. But you persevered and took a good long time to arrive at a decision – after all it’s classified as a family purchase, and it is a status symbol – that you have arrived..
Last question. How much does your mattress cost?
Lets detail this purchase decision. First, look for a sale. Then, dodge all the fancy terminology that the salesperson throws at you, and look for the standard othropedic version – not the cheapest, but not the best-in-class either. And once bought, it better last a lifetime, or close to it.
Cost of the best-selling iPhone – mid range – around 80,000 rupees.
Cost of a mid-range saloon car (Suzuki Swift) – around 7 lakh rupees.
Cost of the best selling mattress on Flipkart – 11,000 rupees.
Now to perspectives. Your phone (assuming you upgrade every 2 years) costs around 3,000 rupees a month. Your car, around 11,000 rupees a month (just the EMI). But is it per month? If you drive 2 hours a day, thats 60 hours a month, throw in 20 hours more for good measure – the car actually costs around 200 rupees for an hour of actual usage – and that’s just the EMI mind you.
By the way, how much time do you spend on your bed? 7-8 hours a day? Around 30% of your life? Then why is it that our mattress is not the most important purchase decision that we make?
Why is it that our mattress isn’t our most expensive purchase? Why don’t we look for the best–in-class option, the iPhone or the Rolls Royce of mattresses? How much is that 30% of our life worth in our eyes?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say that one shouldn’t buy good cars or phones, I merely mean to make you aware of how we tend to think. The value that we place on things has largely come to depend on the collective – How society views it is more important than how we view or value it. And we are willing to pay that price for social acceptance – by spending our hard-earned money and spending more than we need to, getting bogged-down by EMIs that just add up and make us work harder and stress more.
For those who have iPhones, have a look at your screen time (I am sure Android has a similar option to track time spent on the phone). Whenever I ask this question in seminars, the median answer tends to hover around the 4-5 hours mark.
That is 4-5 hours of our waking time of 16 hours – around 25% of our conscious life – we spend on a device, and a large part of that on social media.
And then we complain that we do not have enough time for family, for exercise, for reading..for doing things that we love. Hmmm…
When you leave this world – what would matter more – that you led a great life and made a difference, or that you cleared your email within minutes of receiving it?
Awareness is important – how we think tends to affect how we act, and how we act tends to become a habit, which then becomes part of our character – and finally our destiny.
Oh yes, about that quote. Here is something for you:
तस्मात् यत् पुरुषः सनसाअभिगच्छति।
तत् वाचा वदति।
तत् कर्मणा करोति।
यत् मनसः रेतः प्रथमं आतीत्।
तद् कामः अग्रे समवर्तताधि।
तत् एषाअभि अनूक्ता ।
Whatever one thinks from one’s mind, that one does, what is first in the mind as a seed, later becomes desire, and then becomes what we are.
So watch your thoughts, words and actions, because they become habits, and in turn, your destiny.
A quote from the Taitreya Aranyaka of Krishna Yajur Veda, Chapter 1, Anuvaga 23, Verse 1.
Another favourite quote of mine, although not quite related to the topic, but in the same vein nevertheless.
यथो हस्त तथो दृष्टि
यथो दृष्टि तथो मन: |
यथो मन: तथो भाव:
यथो भाव तथो रस: ||
“Where the hands(hasta) are, go the eyes (drishti); where the eyes are, goes the mind (manah); where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (bhaava) and where there is bhaava, mood or sentiment (rasa) is evoked.”
Many attribute this verse to the Natya Shastra, the ancient Sanskrit treatise on performing arts by Bharata Muni, but in reality this verse is from the Abhinayadarpana, by Nandikeshwara. It is as relevant to life today as it has been to classical dance. Our ancient scriptures offer modern guide maps for anyone willing to seek and implement them. Food for thought…
As always, my feathered friends don’t dwell on these complex matters. All they do is live life, not run behind it…