‘Anything worth doing is going to be difficult” – Fauja Singh
I’ve been following the developments in Fauja Singh’s life for quite a few years now and have often quoted him in my talks and presentations. He’s back in the news again due to his relentless efforts so what I’ve done is I’ve put together this blog post from his various interviews, news clips and videos to share the lessons I derive from his life. Please feel free to share your opinions and add to the lessons we all can learn from this great man.
Best wishes- Simerjeet
7 Lessons from the World’s Oldest Marathon Runner – Fauja Singh
1) The Importance of being Happy–
Our Emotional Health permeates every aspect of our life, so we are told from numerous research studies but Fauja Singh’s life is a testimony to this fact. Fauja Singh says in one of his interviews that the biggest reward in life is to make others happy. “The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”
Don’t sweat the small stuff says Mr. Singh – “Why worry about these small, small things? I don’t stress. You never hear of anyone dying of happiness.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/19/secret-worlds-oldest-marathon-runner-100). Running gave Fauja Singh a purpose in life and a sense of peace. He moved to the UK after he lost his son and wife.
2) Keep your Inner Child Alive! – Don’t take life too seriously!- “If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. THE SPIRIT SHOULD NEVER GROW OLD.” (James Garfield)
In one of the video clips below you’ll see Fauja and his friends poking fun at each other like little kids. I think it’s this ability to not to take life too seriously that goes a long way in keeping us healthy and energetic. Fauja Singh took up serious running when he was 89! As the years roll by, the challenge with most people is that we keep on putting limitations on our own selves – I can’t do this, I can’t do that because I’m too old to be doing that… We must continuously learn to stretch beyond our comfort zones because that is where the adventure begins!
3) The Best is Yet to Come! – An Attitude of Positive Future Expectancy –
Fauja Singh reaffirms my belief in this affirmation that I’ve used for quite sometime now and many of the participants of my talks would probably remember my trademark affrimation – The Best is Yet to Come! It’s a positive emotional feeling believing that the journey is still going on and will continue to do so till my last breath and life still has many surprises to offer. The attitude of Positive Expectancy creates a zest for life and is the perfect antidote to boredom. At 100 years, having achieved all the fame and glory, Fauja Singh is already visualizing his next feat – the Torch Relay for the London Olympic games in 2012. What I admire is the absence of doubt when he speaks of the future and a strong spiritual side that helps him finish his races.
4) Exercise – Get those Endorphins! – Fauja Singh says in comparison to other people of his age, he exercises everyday by walking for 4 hours. At the end of the day, says Mr. Singh, my legs also hurt and so do the legs of others who keep sitting all day long. The difference he says that his legs become stronger due to exercise and others suffer from all kinds of diseases.
5) Diet – Watch what you put into your stomach AND your mind- A recent WHO study said that more people die today of overnutirion than undernutrition. Now, as far as I have observed, that’s certainly true. With rising incomes and a sedentary lifestyle, we are eating way more than our bodies can cope up with. The result – India has some of the world’s highest prevalence of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases. Fauja Singh also says that he never takes pills for common ailments. He just changes his diet to eat simple stuff like porridge and returns back to normal!
Asked about the rest of his diet, he chuckles. “I could go on and on, but it’s not a new or magic thing, is it? Punjabi people know eating and drinking is important, but I just eat the minimum of what I need: some daal and roti, gobi and chai – I’d probably be dead if I was full all the time.” (speaking with Nosheen Iqbal of The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/19/secret-worlds-oldest-marathon-runner-100)
Now the same is also true of our mental diets ie the predominant thoughts and feelings that we hold in our awareness. Most of us suffer from an ‘information overload’. The media is bombarding us with all kinds of negative news and FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). We don’t get the opportunity to look within and get in touch with our real self.
6) Money is not everything – Money is important but it should not be the only driving force of life –
“I’m not really interested in all the rupees, I give it to charity,” he says of his sponsorship deal. “Money can be saved and spent and lost and made. At my age it’s nice just to do this. Come on, who wants to talk to this old man? Everyone now! And it’s because of the running that all these people keep showing me so much love. Look how blessed I am. What’s not to be happy about?” he says speaking with Nosheen Iqbal of The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/19/secret-worlds-oldest-marathon-runner-100)
7) Spirituality – Speaking about the marathon, he said: “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fauja_Singh#cite_note-express2004-1).
Having a strong spiritual connection can keep us going when everything around might be crumbling. I think in life, it’s easy to start things but very difficult to persevere and to see things through to fruition. But it’s this ability to finish what you start that distinguishes the Winners from the Whiners. In one of Fauja Singh’s Marathons, he finished more that 6 hours after Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara won the event!
Here are some videos that give us some insights into the psychology of this inspiring super achiever –
In this video, Fauja Singh shares his views on leading a healthy, happy and holy life. The video is originally in Punjabi but also has English subtitles.
Fauja Singh says in one of his interviews with BBC:
“The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free.
Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”
BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15330421
Nosheen Iqbal – The Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/19/secret-worlds-oldest-marathon-runner-100
Google – Images / YouTube Videos