Lessons from Cycling

I have been cycling for 2 months now and I must say it is one of the best habits that I have gotten myself into in many years. I have had my bike for more than 8 years, but I doubt that before now I had even ridden it for more than 8 hours. I started riding that old mountain bike first on a nearby multi-use paved trail, then on the road for short distances, then I pushed myself a little further and soon I realized I needed a road bike, so I went and bought myself a road bike. When came bike month, I had an extra bit of motivation to keep riding. I did the “Bike the Creek Event” in Brampton, organized my own event and overall cycling has had a manifold positive impact on my life.

There are some lessons that I have learned from Cycling.

If it is important to you, you will make it happen

If it is important to you, you will make it happen, if not, you will find excuses. I learned this lesson when I started to invite friends to bike with me. Of course, some had genuine reasons to not come. Some were too busy to come, some had not biked in many years, some didn’t own a bike and either didn’t want to spend the money to buy one or wanted to wait for the season to be over so that they could get it cheap at a clearance event and the list goes on. These are all valid reasons, yet I find these same people are not too busy to spend countless hours watching reruns of their favourite and not so favourite TV shows, cannot wait to make an expensive purchase of things which they probably don’t even need,..so on… and you get my point. I’m not judging them; my point is, if it is important to you you will make it happen.

priorityOn the other end of the spectrum, I have a friend, who didn’t have a bike, had not ridden one in more than a decade, has a bad knee, and yet somehow managed to come ride with me on a 40KM+ stretch with multiple hills with me. He asked me if I had a spare bike which I did, he went and bought himself a helmet, put a knee sleeve to protect his knee and showed up way earlier than his usual saturday morning wakeup time. Why? In his own words: being active is important to him.

So the next time you find yourself wanting to do something, but it is not something that you are actually doing, maybe it is just not that high in your priority list, and instead of beating yourself for not doing it, just figure out where your priorities lie and question whether they are justified?

If you do what you love, you’ll start loving what you do

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Source: http://www.yalovalifeisgood.com/

Let’s face it; not everything that we do, we actually like doing let alone love doing it. Most people don’t LOVE their job, most might like it, but there are very few who actually love what they do. That is the reason people need vacations and they call it a ‘retreat’. Just google the words “meaning of retreat” and see what you get.

There might be things that you love doing, but you may not have been doing them because you have other ‘important’ things do do. If you just shifted your priorities a little and allocated some time and effort to do the things that you love, that joy and feeling of accomplishment will translate into a stress buster and sip into other areas of your life, whether it be your work, your health, your relationships, your spiritual life and more. When you make time to do what you love, you’ll end up loving what you do – I speak from personal experience! 🙂

If you push just a little more, you will go a lot further

If you push just a little more, you will go a lot further than your imagined. There have been times when my legs felt the burn, my back hurt, shoulders almost gave up, but in that moment I pushed a little more and then a little more and when I checked on my GPS, almost always I was greeted with an amazing and pleasant surprise. Sometimes I end up covering more distance than I had imagined and I usually get to something interesting.

Life is like that too. Most people give up and figuratively speaking get off their bikes or turn around and go back home to a place that’s comfortable at the sight of the slightest incline. Sometimes all it takes is a little push, a bit of hard work and we can accomplish things that you previously thought were impossible. You can apply this principle to sports and fitness, education, business and finance or any other endeavour that you can imagine.

Go the extra mile – it’s worth it!

To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done

I have seen and discovered more things about Brampton and the surrounding area in the past 4 weeks than I have in the past 4 years. I try to take different routes every time I go for a ride and every single time I’m greeted with new discoveries.

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Graffiti art under a bridge on the Humber River Recreational Trail

For the Bike The Creek event, I took my bike with me on the Brampton Transit bus which I had never done before. I used the presto card for the first time and I was amazed at how much better the bus ride has become over the past 7 or 8 years.

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Ride and Bike, using the Presto card on the Brampton Transit for the first time en route to “Bike The Creek” Event.

To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done – If you think about it, isn’t this true for life in general. Why is it that you have never had the kind of house, car, income, relationship, body, spirituality that you truly desire? If you keep doing what you have always been doing, you will get what you have always gotten. A great definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over gain and expecting a different result.

If you don’t want to fall, you gotta keep moving

Just recently I taught a friend in their 20s how to ride a bicycle. Most people learn how to ride a bicycle early on in their life, but it’s never too late to learn anything new. I noticed that this person was afraid to fall and so was trying to move slowly. I told them the key is to keep moving, if you stop or slow down you will fall, you have to keep pedalling if you want to stay up.

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Picture taken on Humber Station Road en route to Albion Hills. (Photoshoped motion blur)

Then it hit me! Isn’t that a great lesson in life? You have to keep moving, whatever happens in life, good or bad, you have to keep moving forward. If something bad happens to you whether it is a heart break, divorce, someone dumps you, someone betrays your trust, you are faced with financial difficulty, you are having health issues, you got fired from work, you end up in an embarrassing situations, or whatever the case maybe, you have to move on with your life sooner or later. If you stop and keep thinking about the bad things that happened, you’ll fall deeper into depression, negativity, anger and it’ll be harder to get back up again.

Likewise if something good happens in life, a promotion, graduation, you achieve your health goal, get married, fall in love whatever the case may be, you still have to keep moving to the next step. If you stop and spend all your time wanting to stay in that same moment, life will pass by and you won’t even realize and you will fall. Celebrating your victories is an important part of life, but wanting to stay in that moment forever is merely wishful thinking.

What is the opposite of movement? Stagnation. Stagnation is death. Think about it. How do you know if someone is dead. You identify it by them not moving, their pupils won’t move or react to light variations, their heart won’t move – no heart beat, their brains seizes to function, blood doesn’t flow through the body.

Life is movement.

The Story of My Life

You are in line at the bank and when finally your turn comes to get served, you find that the bank teller does not greet you with a smile, does not answer your question properly and you generally find their attitude very rude. You decide that that person is just a rude person and then carry on with your day.

While on the way home you pass a person, your eyes lock and they smile, you smile back. Momentarily you feel joy, maybe you think of that person as being nice, or you feel better about yourself thinking, “I must be looking good today” and then you simply let the thought fade away as quickly and quietly as it arrived and continue on your journey home.

You are  living in the story of your life experiencing events unfolding one moment at a time. Your path crosses with the paths of others. They make your life’s experience richer, give you love, joy, annoy you and sometimes even hurt you. You are experiencing intimately and with full attentiveness the story of your life. You live a complex, multidimensional life with emotions, situations, relationships with the people close to you and the relationship with your self. Every situation that you are in is unique, and sometimes people don’t understand you and sometimes they do. No matter what happens how it happens, only you will fully experience and understand the complexity of your life and everyone that you have ever met, heard, saw, or experienced their existence in any form or manner is merely an extra in the story of your life,… and so am I.

maxresdefaultWe all experience life in this way. In our experience we are at the centre of our Universe and everyone else is a distance star, a tiny specific woven into the fabric of our life. Other people that come into our life momentarily or for a longer duration from our telescopic perception live single dimensional and predictable lives, they have general personality traits – this person is a nice person, this one is mean or rude, this one is  a complete @$$ hole etc.. These extras in the story of your life serve a person, mostly a single purpose, and sometimes more than that, but they occupy a very tiny portion of your life.

But in fact these extras don’t live such simple lives. They live a rich complex life filled with emotions, ambitions, disappointments, love, hate, regrets, situations that make them grow, or constraint them. They do good things, they do bad things, sometimes they do things they can’t explain, and sometimes they do things that they can and do explain.

Every person that crosses your path may be an extra in your life, but know that you are also merely an extra in theirs.

The Car-free Life

A little over 6 months ago I was forced to let go of my car because I was involved in an accident and the car was a write off. Instead of getting a new car, I decided that I would not get a new car until I was certain I actually needed one. The car free life might not work for everyone, but it does work for a surprising number of people if they are willing to make some adjustments in their life.

In my case, it was a very easy decision to make and one that I do not regret at all. In fact my life probably has gotten better because of not having a car. But that can also be because my life is as such. I have deliberately designed my life in such a way that I do not have to commute to work, I choose my work hours, I choose whom to work with, what to work on and how much to work on it. Of course all that freedom can be the ultimate boon, but if not handled with care, it can also be a curse. After all with great power comes great responsibility, and in this case the power is total freedom. But what does all that have to do with living a car-free life?

Not having a car meant there were some constraints in my life. I could not travel when I wanted to, I could not be spontaneous with my travel plans, even grabbing a cup of coffee or breakfast became something that needed some planning. Of course there is also the status symbol to battle with, but thankfully I was not victimized by my mind in this respect because I almost always live by the saying

Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

Challenging The Status Symbol

source: www.cartoonstock.com
source: www.cartoonstock.com

If nothing at all, it has been a great social experiment. For example,  I was with a group of friends when the topic of cars came up and a particular car brand was mentioned(I can’t remember which car it was) but I casually said, “Nah, I don’t like that car”, to which my friend mockingly replied,

“That’s coz you can’t afford one” letting out a laugh and an insulting look on his face before realizing that his remarks may have come off as being insensitive, yet not enough to warrant a genuine apology. As I write this, I wonder how they would react if I drove my new Tesla S to their driveway. If there is any car that I actually want to own in the near future despite of my car free philosophy that I’m experimenting with, it as to be the Tesla S – you know because it’s an electric car and it’s good for the environment and all. ;-).

There are numerous other situations like these that tested my commitment to go car free for as long as I could. It has been 6 months now and things just keep getting better.

Increased Savings

Hand and money staircaseNot owning a car saves quite a bit of money and yes you might know this logically or mathematically but when you actually see how much you’re saving, it may just surprise you a little bit. You don’t have to pay for auto insurance and if you live in my city, you know that that can be a big deal! Cost of fuel and maintenance is another thing that is out of the list of bills. There will of course be times when you do need a car because public transportation might not cut it. In those situations you can take a taxi or rent a car, and even then, at least for me the savings are very visible. For that to work, I had to develop another skill.

More Organized, Better Time Management

TimeYou cannot keep hiring a taxi or renting a car every time you need to go somewhere. I scheduled my meetings in such a way that I could get away with renting one car for the day and getting all my work done on the same day. Out of necessity I had to get efficient at my work and get better at scheduling meetings. I was always accustomed to steering clients towards having phone or Skype meetings when possible, but with the added constraint of not owning a car, I became better at managing my time. Scheduling back to back meetings means you have to learn to squeeze your preparation time and doing it enough number of times means you can get very good at it.

Health Benefits

2014-04-25-Walking_JR_604When I owned a car, I would sometimes drive in the middle of the night around 3AM to Denny’s or McDonalds to have a big meal while working on some project. Things like these of course causes your health to deteriorate slowly over time if you do it frequently. But if you remove the flexibility of having a car, the temptation of driving to a fast food place is removed(at least partially).

I started walking as part of my exercise routine, I then increased my frequency of walking and the distance I travelled every time I went out of a walk. I can now confidently walk for an hour and  I use walking to get things done. Things like going to the bank, getting stationary or getting groceries are now tasks that I feel are quite easy  even without a car. Not only am I staying active, I’m also noticing a lot more of my surroundings than I would if I were to travel the same route by car. It’s an amazing experience every time.

241617539_1399307542Recently I took out my old bicycle from my garage. It had collected some dust and rust because of all the neglect of so many years. I cleaned it and applied some needed fixes and started cycling. Now sometimes instead of walking to my destination I cycle to it and it takes me half the time. Not only is cycling healthy, it is also a lot of fun. I was an avid cyclist when I was in high school but as time went by, I went from an avid cyclist to the guy who says “I had a bicycle once”. Cycling has brought back so much joy and fun that I had all forgotten about.

I also bought a Misfit Flash fitness tracker so that I can hit my daily activity goals. Please be sure to check out my thought on the Misfit Flash.

originalAll these are benefits to me, but living a car free life is not all a selfish act. I am helping the environment by doing my part in reducing greenhouse gas emission. Living a car-free life also means you’re doing your part in easing traffic congestion.

As you can see living a car free life is a win-win for all. This is my take on living a car free life.

If you liked this article and want to read more like these in the future, please leave a comment below and please share!

 

What Should you write about?

Recently I was asked for some advice. This person said that they were always interested in writing, but never could really figure out what to write about. After following some of my blog posts, they asked me for some insight into how to decide what to write about, how to plan their writing, how often write, how to determine who the target audience is? etc…

First and foremost, I was flattered that someone asked me for advice on writing. I also felt some pressure to give appropriate answers to their questions. However, when it finally dawned upon, I realized that the real answer was very simple.

The question as to what you should write about is like the question “How Should I live my life?” The answer really isn’t that complicated. You just do. You just live. That is as simple as it gets and as complicated an answer as it gets, there is nothing more to it. Likewise, if you want to write, you should just write, there is nothing more to it.

You may ask, but don’t I need to know what to write about? Don’t I need to plan? Don’t I need to learn the different styles of writing? Don’t I need to be interesting? Don’t I need to know who I am writing for? Who is my target audience? What is my purpose for writing whatever it is that I am writing?

No… Don’t think about all that – Just write. In due time, you will discover the things that you are passionate about, in due time you will realize what your style of writing is, who your target audience is, who you want to write for, what message you want to send across the screen, or the glossy pages of a magazine, or whatever medium you choose.

The best way to learn anything is to start doing it.

How do you learn to ride a bike? How to you learn to swim. How do you learn to play a guitar? How do you learn to drive a car? Never mind that, how do you think you learnt to walk? Too often we ponder upon the result of our actions for too long and never actually see any result because we never really try to do that thing.

The biggest price that you pay for an action is the price of not taking it.

In Pursuit Of…

In-pursuit-of

If every action is performed in succession, then the consequence of those actions is inevitable. There is basically a formula to life. There is no mystery, it is simply mathematics. Action and result. Cause and effect.

This video is both funny and deep, if you really think about it. This is the conclusion to  the coyote and the road runner, the never ending chase. We have always been led to believe that the coyote is the bad guy and the road runner is the good guy who is smart, fast and funny.  But this video tells a different story. Yes, it is funny, but think about it again and you will see a different picture emerging behind the humour.

When the viewers who watch the cartoon think that the coyote is never going to catch the roadrunner, the coyote persists. Real dream chasers, the mad ones, the crazies, keep chasing their dream even when everyone around them begs them to stop and give up and pursue something else. When one thing does not work, they try something else, and then something else, they change their angle, their technique, beaten up, broken down they keep persevering. See they know a secret that most people don’t, or perhaps choose to ignore because of the pain it may cause.

If every action is performed in succession, then the consequence of those actions is inevitable. There is basically a formula to life. There is no mystery, it is simply mathematics. Action and result. Cause and effect.

If however, your actions do not get you your desired results, then it is not that you have failed, it is simply the result of your combined actions. Perhaps you have not performed an actions well or the timing was not right, perhaps there are some factors that you have not considered, maybe your approach is not optimal. Dream chasers, those mad ones know this and they change their approach, change their technique, change their angle, or whatever it takes to get them to where they want to be.

Eventually they do – they all do!

But we know that don’t know? We need only to look around us. But what happens after you get to where you wanted to be, what happens when you finally achieve ‘success’, what happens after you have made your dream into a reality?

Sometimes people keep chasing a dream and forget about everything else, their family, relationships, health, and instead they become obsessed about it, putting themselves on the line, risking everything and never giving up.

When they finally achieve their dream, they are sometimes left with a void and the question:

Is this all there is?

The chase is over, the task is complete, the chapter is closed, so now what? Sometimes people develop an identity crisis. The passion, the thrill of chasing their dreams leaves them hungry for more, but they don’t know what else there is to chase. Just like the coyote, they try different things, fall into a lousy state of mind, anger, depression, feelings of worthlessness. This happens a lot with very successful people. Even if people manage to maintain a healthy state of mind and do something else that brings meaning in their lives, they still miss the chase, they crave the process of converting raw power of their passions into their desired results.

We have seen many athletes, after achieving unimaginable level of success and retiring, return back to the game, or a businessman after retiring comes back, or a filmmaker keeps coming back because sometimes that is the only thing that brings meaning to their life.

But the question I ask is: Is it worth sacrificing everything you hold dear? Should you chase a dream at the expense of your health? Should you pursue success while sacrificing the love of your friends, family or your personal relationship?

I can’t speak for everyone, but perhaps they key is balance! But an even bigger solution is the answer to

WHY?

Why do you want what you want? The answer to that question is perhaps the starting point to brining balance. When you truly answer that question, either you will realize that it is not worth pursuing, or you will find that you can achieve the same ‘why’ by pursuing something else, something which you may not have to sacrifice the other things that are dear to you for, or you will realize that the WHY is what brings you joy and power in your life which you can directly inject into your work as fuel and move forward.

Take Stock

Another way to bring balance is taking stock of your accomplishments. Think about it! Many things that you now take for granted were once a dream, a goal, something that seemed so far fetched you couldn’t even comprehend what it would be like achieve it. Maybe it was graduating with a degree or a diploma, or owning your own car, getting a job, earning $X dollars in salary, owning a house, asking someone out, or getting married to someone that you love, travelling to a destination you always wanted to go to, starting a business, or getting that promotion. Just think about it?

Stay Thirsty…Keep pursuing…

If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

The human spirit needs growth, no amount of success brings as much meaning and joy as growth does and in fact that might even be one of the laws of nature. Companies need to grow, to invent, invest, innovate, people need to grow financially. One dollar 10 years ago is not worth one dollar today, and today’s dollar will not be worth that much in the future. Likewise with your dreams and goals. If you are in pursuit of something, keep at it, if you don’t have something to chase, go find something. Mind you, your dreams don’t have to be materialistic, it can be to better a relationship, it can be spiritual, it can be a health goal. Whatever it is, go get it.

I end with this video. It is one of my favourite scenes, a tear jerker, a real inspirational moment.

Zindagi – Enigma: The Greatest Show on Earth

On Saturday, September 7th ,2013, I performed a mix of Hindi and English prose at Shri Kshatriya Mitra Mandal, Toronto's (SKMM Toronto) annual function at Rose Theatre in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

Zindagi Enigma is philosophical examination of the life of an individual from the birth of his child going backwards in time, meeting his soul mate, starting work and experiencing uncertainties of his career, going to college while searching for him identity, conflicts with religious beliefs handed down to him, falling in love for the first time, growing up as child, and then finally his first breathe at birth and then it all begins – The Greatest Show on Earth.

Due to time constraints, the act was cut short. If I get a chance, I shall post record the full version some day, but for this, enjoy! 🙂

For those who have asked me whether this is story is based on my life, the answer is no. This story and the characters in it are fictitious and any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

The Power of Intro-Extro-verts

Just a few weeks ago someone commented that I was a bit shy. That came as a bit of a surprise to me as I do not consider myself as even a remotely shy person. After a bit of reflection I realized that at some point in my life that in fact may have been true from one perspective and even today to some this may hold true. I do not usually tend to speak unnecessarily. If I do not bother speaking up, it is mainly because the situation or topic at hand does not interest me or I do not have anything worthwhile to add to the conversation because it does not add any additional positive value.

Although I have a blog which may seem like an open expression of my personal thoughts, a twitter page which paints a picture of what goes in my mind and a Facebook account where it may seem that I share my intimate thoughts amongst my Facebook friends, it is only what one sees on the surface. I have learnt from experience that things are not always what they seem. I like to express myself freely when the time calls for it, but my biggest breakthroughs in thinking and understanding have come from seeking solace in solitude.

I like to deal with certain things like figuring personal and business solutions to problems I face on my own,. The bigger the problem the more silence it requires. But the fact is, this is not just true for me – this is true for everyone. Even the most extreme cases of extroverts need to at times find their inner voice in seclusion.

The key here is not to categorize oneself as either an introvert or an extrovert. There are different times that requires one to taken on introvert or an extrovert traits.

When making business deals, giving speeches in public, working in teams I have to take on an extrovert persona and during planning, projecting, writing or doing any kind of creative work I have to take on an introvert persona. The key is to realize one's natural state and then balancing it according to the situation that one is in.

 

Why You Should Set Your New Year’s Resolution in November!

Two years ago, I wrote an article on "Why not to Set a new Year’s resolution!". Now I like to catch people's attention like that. The fact was that I was not telling people to not set new year's resolutions, but instead I was showing why you should set them in November.

It has worked well for me and I have made some amazing changes in the past two years. Some of my friends and colleagues have also adopted this out-of-the-box way of making self improvements.

Now remember, you do not need to restrict yourself to health goals like losing X pounds or just financial goals like earning $Y within the next Z months. You can set new year's resolutions for your company, for your community, for your family or for your circle of friends .

You can check out the article here: http://www.kapilbulsara.com/2010/01/why-not-to-set-a-new-years-resolution/

Faith

Every once in a while I would get these sudden rush of insight. So fast it comes and so profound it is, that I can only feel it, realize it at a level that words cannot express, as a matter of fact sometimes these sudden rush of insights are not even at the level of thought, because even the mind cannot fully comprehend this message. It is at a level which seems higher than thought, and the mind can only speak in terms of thoughts. This message is beyond the object of this thing called mind. I know not what this is, but it IS and you can only realize it with something higher than yourself. Once in a while we all get these glimpses that put us in a state of peace, awe, amazement, serenity – there are many ways of explaining it and yet we cannot fully describe it because to describe it fully in the words given by the mind will take us out of the very essence of this state.

Today, just moments ago I had this sudden rush of insight. I would call it Faith. Faith is everything, Faith is the bond that carries you forward. It is the absolute Trust in your Self, the higher Self that is indeed the True YOU, it is there ever present, yet it is allusive because of the veil that covers the knowledge of this True Self. To describe what Faith is in simple terms of the mind: it would be the trust in yourself, the trust that what you truly believe within you is what is right and it is what must be done. One does not need books, spiritual leaders, and enlightened beings to show you the 'path'. To follow the path shown by someone else is to call yourself by someone else's name. True Guidance can only come from within. It is this Trust in your Self that is as close as you can get to what I mean by Faith.

Faith has no religious connotation, it is not attached to a particular dogma, or belief system. It is what it is. It is pure, untainted, unconditional. It is Love in it's purest form, unconditional. It is towards that higher Self that resides in you and that which is none other than the True Nature of you.

My Prayer

I pray for wisdom of a 100 year old, imagination of a 6 year old, curiosity of a 2 year old, energy of a 20 year old and audacity of a 17 year old!

I pray for steadfastness of a loyal married man, the power of unconditional love of a new mother, the equanimity of an enlightened monk, the passion of a first time lover and the universal connectedness of a prodigy.

I pray for the deep understanding of the just, the burning desire of a new soul searcher, the unwavering firmness of an incorruptible king, and the indestructible courage of a warrior of the highest order.

I pray for the peace that exists in the deepest trenches of oceans and in the furthest regions of the cosmos.