6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man

gandhi 140 years young

On 2nd October 2009, it was the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. So he would have then been 140 years old had he not been assassinated in 1948.

Gandhi may not be around anymore but his legacy and his message of non-violence lives on and he is indeed the light the world needs today.

He has always been one of my heroes from a young age and I remember crying after watching Richard Attenborough’s famous film Gandhi.

We had made a special trip to London and watched the film in Leicester Square just a few days after its release – watching it was a defining moment in my life.

I have watched this remarkable movie about a remarkable man many times since then.

Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.” – Einstein

I have read a lot about Gandhi since then and also been influenced by my late father who collected a huge library of Gandhi’s teachings.

It is now up to all of us to apply Gandhi’s teachings in our daily life – after all his message about peace and non-violence is more pertinent than ever before today.

On this 140th anniversary of his birth, here are 6 keys lessons for all of us to apply in our life from today

1. Be the Change you Wish to See in the World.

This is possibly Gandhi’s most famous phrase and tells us that before we can go and change the world, we have to change ourselves.

From the being, comes the doing and ultimately the having.

So we now have the message – “Do the change you wish to see in the world”.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world before it’s too late.

Check out this truly inspirational video clip about being the change:-

Focus on changing yourself and being the change you wish – and soon we can begin to look at the bigger picture and solve the world’s challenges.

There is this anecdotal story about how a mother came with her son to see Gandhi. She wanted Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating too much sugar as it was harmful for his health. He asked her to come back a month later by which time he himself had cut down on his own sugar intake.

The point is that before you can get anyone to take on your own teachings, you have to apply them to your own life. There are various phrases to reflect this message such as “practise what you preach” and “walk the talk”.

Let your life be your message” – Gandhi

Is your life the message you want to give the world?

When will you be the change you want the world to be?

2. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

 

There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed” – Gandhi

Even in Gandhi’s time there was vast disparity in the world between the rich and the poor. He could see how the world’s resources were being pilloried to satisfy the excessive demands of the West whilst most people in the rest of the world were barely surviving.

Today I would argue that the way we are all living in the West and elsewhere, there is not even enough for everyone’s needs. We must revisit how we live our lives and truly learn to reduce, reuse and recycle – the 3Rs.

The time has come when we cannot just rely on others – each one of us has to do our bit. Increasingly, more and more people and also businesses are waking up to their responsibilities to the environment, the larger community and the global implications of their activities.

Start today and apply the 3Rs in your life.

3. Live a Simple, Minimalist Life.

Gandhi lived a very simple, frugal life. He died with very few possessions and he preached simplicity and minimalism in all areas of life.

He also dressed simply and even persisted with his simple Indian loin cloth when he visited England and met the King. When asked if he was under dressed for a meeting with the King, Gandhi replied that the King had enough clothes on for both of them!

Minimalism is something I am beginning to apply in my life too. To get you started, please check out this excellent “Minimalist Guide” from my blogging mentor and friend Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.

Leo is a man Gandhi would have approved off for his humility, sharing, compassion and also his hairstyle:-)

Please get your copy of Leo’s minimalist ebook here.

Start living a simpler minimalistic life from today – and you will release a lot of time and energy to bring more of Gandhi’s teachings into the world.

4. If no one Walks with you, Walk Alone

Walk your path no matter what others do

Believe in your cause, follow your truth and stick to your journey even if you have to walk the path on your own.

Gandhi at the end of his life was said to be heart broken with the partition of India as millions were killed and displaced. Even then, he still had a message for the world – it takes just one man to make a difference.

If no one responds to your call, go forward alone.
If no one talks to you, oh luckless one,
If everyone turns away from you in fear,
Reveal your thoughts and express your ideas to yourself.
If everyone leaves you while you are travelling a dangerous road,
If no one wants to look after you,
Walk on alone, on the road strewn with thorns, trampling on them with bleeding feet.
If no one shows a light, if in the dark stormy night everyone shuts their doors,
Use your rib as a torch, lit from the fire of thunder.Rabindranath Tagore

So anything and everything you do counts and will make a difference.

5. Get your Power through Humility

be humble and powerful

Gandhi was a very humble, down to earth, ordinary human-being but therein lay his power and authority. His power came from being very clear about who he was, his values and his mission.

So the clearer you are about who you are and what you stand for, the more power you will exert in the world, whilst remaining humble and as down to earth as you wish.

Of course, by power what I mean here is not the power that corrupts but one that changes the world and makes a positive contribution.

6. Start Today

The difference between what we do, and what we are capable of doing, would solve most of the world’s problems” – Gandhi

Believe that what you do matters, and that it will make a difference.

You can’t save the whole world single-handedly, and we can’t all be a Gandhi or a Mandela, but you can certainly make a difference to one person at a time. So look for ways to contribute.

Ask yourself what special skill or knowledge you have that can solve a problem or make the best of a situation and that will help or support others.

And actually, maybe we can all be a Gandhi or a Mandela :-)

Start small – and get started no matter what. They too started small one day at the beginning of their own life journeys.

So fear not – you already have and know enough – new skills will come for sure as you progress on your journey. And whatever you choose to do, it will make a difference.

The point is that everything we do matters and makes either a positive or a negative impact on everything around us.

You can start today to apply Gandhi’s message in your life, simply by focussing on this one question:-

How can I bring more love and peace into my life today?

Just know that every little bit helps and by you being more loving and peaceful, the rest of the world becomes more loving and peaceful too.

After all, we all have a “Gandhi” inside of us, just waiting to emerge.

As for me, I too shall continue to work on letting my own Gandhi emerge, but perhaps not his dress sense!

The way forward – become crazy to change the world!

What makes one person a Gandhi or a Dr Martin Luther King? Is it pure coincidence or do such inspirational historic figures have some special powers?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs, Apple

So just how crazy are you?

And how will YOU change the world?

To get you started right away, please check out this related post at once:-

Feel the Fear and Change the World Anyway!

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Comments

  1. This is such an inspiring article Arvind! You’ve put so much into it, embraced so many important areas and wrote a wonderful tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. Now I am going to go and think how I can change the world :-)

    • Arvind Devalia says:

      Thanks Anastasiya – what I have learnt is that it doesn’t take much to change the world, even a simple smile will brighten up someone else’s day:-)

      Start small today and build on that.

    • Great article, thanks for remembering Gandhi at this convulsive times.

      • Thanks Evely for visiting and your kind words.

        I really do believe that even if our current times seem convlusive, we are on the cusp of lots of positive changes:-)

  2. A fantasic post and reminder of the lost lessons of a true mahatma. Thanks Arvind.

    • Thanks Aarti – please do continue to visit often.

      Just to clarify to other readers – “Mahatama” literally translates to “Great Soul”

  3. alex di martino says:

    thanks Arvind, this is the best Gandhi’s commemorationI can remember ;-0

    • Thanks Alex! It is so many years since we met. I remember the time I came to yours for the Buddhist evening.

      Do you still do those evenings?

      Lets reconnect soon:-)

  4. Great post, Arvind!

    I have admired Gandhi since I first learned about his acts of non-violence. Your point #1 is in my signature in my personal gmail address. He is an excellent reminder that human beings have the capacity to be extraordinary if we so choose…

    Thank you for this.

    • Thanks Belinda – and great to connect with you via the Bootcamp.

      I guess if you are going to have a role model, why not just reach for the top!

      Be the change – such a simple concept. Lets us all aspire to make our life our message:-)

  5. Wow, what a post. Your own heart shines through.

    …and I laughed out loud when you said that Gandhi would have approved of Leo’s hairstyle.

    Thanks!

    Kye

    • Thanks Kye for your kind words.

      Leo does really remind me of Gandhi:-)

      Gandhi would have been a keen subscriber of Zen Habits!

  6. I have to admit that this is my first visit on your blog Arvind, but wow, this post is great! It’s so inspiring and very motivating… I think I’ll also watch the film as I haven’t seen it yet :)

    Andrew

    • Thanks Andrew for visiting my blog – more the merrier!

      You are in for a such treat when you finally watch “Gandhi”.

      Make sure you have some tissues handy:-)

  7. Christine Booth says:

    Dear Arvind,
    How lovely to read such a thoughtful and wonderful message for us on the Mahatma’s birthday, Arvind. It was great for me to be reminded of his marvellous teachings. You’ve constructed the message in a really inspiring and positive way. Congratulations and thank you.
    God bless you. Christine.

    • Thanks Christine for your kind words, positive thoughts and blessings.

      I remember meeting you at the Gandhi peace event at the British Library in March 2008 – glad to see that Gandhi has reconnected us again!

  8. A great article about a man whose legacy will never die…I love the make it happen book and thank you for inspiring us with all your treasured posts.

    • Dear KK,

      Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. I am glad you downloaded the ebook (twice!) and you are finding it inspiring.

      Please do share it with all your community:-)

  9. Thank you for putting together this list Arvind. I remembered reading Ghandi when I first started my quest for self-improvement. You captured many of his best lessons here, though the man had so many lessons to choose from!

  10. Arvind, this is a great summary of what Ghandi stood for. And it is also necessary that Ghandi shouldn’t been placed as a monument but he should act as a reminder for each of us about what capabilities are inside each of us.

    How can we express those qualities on our everyday life?
    How can we overcome the fear of our own greatness and do what we ate capable of?
    Dare we to find out? Dare you?

    • Patrick, you have asked some great questions!

      Maybe you should be a coach:-)

      I dare YOU to become what you are capable of and make your blog and your work a huge success!

      Let us agree a plan of action!

  11. Beautiful and inspiring article…I read Ghandi’s autobiography – experiment with truth and was very insightful – help me align my goals and stand up for my values while practicing Satya. Thank you for the reminder and sharing this Arvind.

    • Jai, I read that book “Experiments with Truth” as a young boy and it made a huge life long impact on me.

      Such simple words and yet so powerful – it should be made compulsory reading for every one:-)

  12. Thanks ..I really enjoyed this

  13. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom with us. Take care, A.

    • Thanks Anita for visiting – as Gandhi would say, we all have the same widsom us – we just have to access it and live it:-)

  14. Anne Brandt Dias says:

    Dear Arvind,

    It is very noble of you to have written and remembered our ‘Mahathma Gandhi’. He was one of a kind and although he is long since gone, we can all learn from his teachings and examples. The film is brilliant and I too have seen it a few times. Today just happens to be my father’s death anniversary. He died too young and too suddenly. I always think of MG on 2nd October in a special way and always will. You have expressed your points so well. Yes we all can and should make a difference by starting from something small…not just words but actions which is what counts in the end.

    Warm sunny hug from Spain!

    Anne

    • Thanks Anne for that sunny hug from Spain. It is a beautiful autumnal day here in London and I am just off for a walk in the rain.

      Actions are always better than words and let us all do our bit from today.

      There is this quote from Sai Baba that I like “Hands that help are better than lips that pray”

  15. Another powerful blog, thanks Arvind.
    One other quote of Gandhi’s that i think about on the not so good days is: “When i despair i remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.”

    • Thanks Tania for that wonderful quote from Gandhi – I shall use that in a future post.

      And it will become a reminder for me anytime when I need perking up:-)

      • Tania, here’s another quote from Gandhi shared by a friend on Facebook:-

        “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty” – Mahatma Gandhi

  16. Hi Arvind,

    Thank you for the blog and your continued efforts to make people strive to be better. It is through such efforts that we as a collective move forward. Gandhi always noted that change does not always occur in big steps but in small changes and such changes occur even when on the face of things we have failed. That was his message in his Satyagraha movements.

    Thank you
    Omar
    Trustee, The Gandhi Foundation

    • Dear Omar,

      Thanks for your kind words – and for your ongoing inspirational work with the Gandhi Foundation.

      I love what you say about change happening in small steps and that even though we may feel we have failed, such small changes are leading us in the right direction.

      This is a great reminder for all of us in our daily lives where so often we get disheartened with apparent setbacks.

  17. Thank you, Arvind, for this inspirational post.

    It reminds us that we must follow our heart and conscience – even if it is different from the status-quo ‘business-as-usual’.

    It also reminds us to practice what we preach.

    Or even better: preach less and practice more!

    Ghandhi and others like him are inspirational for me because they are not either/or.

    Change is about inner and outer – and/and.

    Thanks, Arvind.

    • Thanks Elisabeth for your wonderful interpretation of Gandhi’s message – preach less and practice more!

      Yes, let us all look at both inner and outer change.

  18. John Hamilton Farr says:

    It’s almost possible to see Ghandi as a 140-year-old-man, isn’t it? :-)

    Thank you for raising these points about what to remember from his life and teachings. There’s not a dud in the bunch, all good stuff. Anyway, carry on! I was directed here by a RT on Twitter, and I’m glad I stopped by…

    • Thanks John for stopping by.

      Yes, Gandhi could be 140 years old – he seems to have been with us all these years though he passed away over 60 years ago!

      I guess his wisdom lives on with us…

  19. Love it. And to end with one of my favorite quotes is icing on the cake!

  20. Beautiful and brilliant post, thank you. How wonderful for you to have been immersed in Gandhi’s wisdom from such a young age and now to offer this up so clearly to us.

    • Thanks Mahala.

      My late father was an ardent Gandhi follower and we still have files and files of Gandhi cuttings from over 50 years ago.

      My father would have loved this Gandhi post:-)

  21. Cheryl McLaughlin says:

    Thank you for reminding me about Ghandi’s words and wisdom. It came at a perfect moment. Your spirit as well as Ghandi’s shows through. Thank you.

    • Thanks Cheryl for your kind words.

      It is a privilege to be able to write on this space in such a way that anyone in the world can read it.

      I am now excited by the challenge of spreading my work to a much wider audience…

  22. Hi Arvind,

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable post. I was directed here to see a good example of an Apture user in action and was very impressed with your gathering of material.

    I too love Gandhi, his spirit, his philosophy and his legacy. I was also delighted to learn more about Tagore and to see Mandela, another of my role models right after he left prison and to be impressed all over again by Martin Luther King.

    I loved the fun things you included and followed every link, right up to the last one…I didn’t dare go there as it took me 3 days to watch all the things you have on this post…I didn’t dare go on to another post just yet. :)

    Thanks and best wishes,

    Nili
    Dr. Nili Marcia
    Mama Duck EFT

    • Dear Dr Nili,

      Thanks for visiting and checking out the the use of Apture.

      Creatings these Apture links was as much for me as it was for you to go through them! There is so much wisdom to be shared by these great historical figures such as Gandhi, Dr King, Mr Mandela and I am so glad to have found something like Apture to do justice to their legacy.

      As for my other posts, you will be pleased to know that I will not be using Apture as widely in most cases:-)

  23. Laxmi Chhaya says:

    Thank you for giving me exactly what I needed at this moment. To realise the power within us can sometimes feel like a struggle but what you have shared gives me so much strength and energy – I forget that the small things do actually count, that being alone is ok and that it is what I do in this moment that really really matters. I am grateful.

    • Laxmi, great to hear from you from India!

      I know you are doing some great work in a remote part of the country and though it may seem like a challenge being on your own, it DOES make a difference, no matter how small it may seem:-)

      So keep it up and know that you are impacting so many people’s lives, directly and indirectly.

  24. Superb post Arvind. Gandhi will always be one of my lifes hero’s.

    • Thanks Amit – Gandhi should be everyone’s hero:-)

      He left such a legacy that he will be a hard act to follow. However what we can do ourselves now is to apply his many lessons.

  25. RT @arvinddevalia 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man – Mahatama Gandhi http://is.gd/5or26

  26. RT @arvinddevalia: RT @arvinddevalia 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man – Mahatama Gandhi http://is.gd/5or26

  27. On the 62nd anniversary of the passing of Mahatma Gandhi, remember – "Be the change you want to see in the world" – http://is.gd/7lPIZ

  28. RT @arvinddevalia: On the 62nd anniversary of the passing of Mahatma Gandhi, remember – "Be the change you want to see in the world" – http://is.gd/7lPIZ

  29. Thank you so much . What an inspiring article ? Ghandi inside us deserves to emerg . . so inspiring

  30. Thanks Arvind. I like this article so much. Gandhi is great teacher. What a wonderful article.

  31. 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man – http://bit.ly/1iTaR

  32. Arvind, thank you so much. I just found this post. A wonderful, powerful tribute, beautifully expressed. I will return again and again to the light of your article. How incredibly generous of you to compose this post and share it with us all – Catrien Ross.

  33. "6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man | Make It Happen" – http://bit.ly/a3AvWS (via @Apture) – very inspiring and dense

  34. RT @IoanNicut: If no one walks with you walk alone – http://ping.fm/g5KsA

  35. RT @ArvindDevalia: 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man http://is.gd/b5BRE

  36. RT @arvinddevalia: RT @ArvindDevalia: 6 Key Lessons in Life from a 140 year Old Man http://is.gd/b5BRE

  37. As I am Asian Proud be my self,
    Superb post . Mahatma Gandhi will always be one of my lifes hero’s.

    Niluka

    • Welcome to my blog Niluka.

      Great to know that you are Asian and proud of your heritage. Gandhi reminded us about how we are ultimately one – so I am also proud to be Asian (Indian) and also a human being:-)

  38. Arvind,

    Thank you so much for writing this awesome post and making it a part of the Life Lessons Series.

    It is a valuable contribution and please know that I appreciate your support.

  39. Arvind, thanks for doing the life lesson series and taking such a creative angle to do so as well. I’d like to read about Ghandi’s teachings at some point; I will add it to my reading list, thank you. I am working with Abubakar on writing an ebook where we incorporate quotes from all of our beautiful contributors and yours will most definitely enter our work. Thank you!
    Farnoosh’ latest post ..Yoga Flow Series 6- Tapping into Energy

  40. I’ve always been fascinated by Gandhi. “Be the change you wish to see” is a quote I always have in my head, but it’s hard to live it out sometimes. It’s hard to get rid of the mentality that the world owes me something, or that I’m due for special treatment, especially when it comes to the area of relationships and love. But you gotta show your love to others before you can expect them to reciprocate.
    Henway’ latest post ..My Colonix Experience

  41. Dear Arvind, can I translate this post in Hindi and post in my blog? I have already translated one of your post that appeared in http://zenhabits.net
    The link is http://hindizen.com/2010/04/02/gandhi-the-ultimate-minimalist/

    • Nishant – welcome to my blog and thanks for asking about translating the blog into Hindi.

      I will truly be honoured for this article to be translated into Hindi.

      Thank you so much.

  42. This is stunning, beautiful, enriching, and inspiring. It is a true gift to all of us – Gandhi continuing to speak and touch us and the world through you. I also agree that the over-consumption in the West has now led us to the point where there may not be enough to go around. I’m so glad that you made that point and are encouraging us to all live simply. You are a beautiful person, Arvind.
    Sandra Lee’ latest post ..The true meaning of Zen Hint- it’s not a habit

  43. MARTIN LUTHER KING
    GANDHI

    WHO S NEXT

    SILO

    WORLD MARCH FOR PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE
    by
    World Without Wars
    see its web site

  44. This is such a nice post. Like others have said you have collected some of Gandhi’s best teachings here.
    I am in the process of reading ‘My Experiments with Truth’ and it is such an enlightening, simple and courageous account!
    Rahul Singh’ latest post ..Belief vs wish

    • Rahul, welcome to my blog!

      Glad you liked this post – Mahatma Gandhi has so many lesson for us. We just need to have the willingness and courage to apply his teachings in our life.

      Enjoy reading his book “My Experiments with Truth” – you have reminded me to read it once again in 2011.

      Wishing you all the best for this year:-)
      Arvind Devalia’ latest post ..How To Embrace Loneliness and Blossom

  45. Hello neighbourgh,
    Great article….. very inspiring.
    Sonja x

  46. I love all the lessons you shared in this wonderful article. Thanks for the inspiration and reminder.
    Qin Tang’ latest post ..Breaking Free with Beth Moore

  47. Very Lovely life lessons from one of the greatest men indeed, who ever walked the earth. Gandhi is truly worth learning from. Especially his admonition to be the change we seek in the world and also learning to walk alone are both profound truths we must all put to use in this age of imitation. People rarely want to go it alone these days, they prefer hanging amongst the crowd doing everything popular except the unusual which has the potential to alter their lives for the better.

    Thanks Arvind, for sharing these great lessons of life.
    Tito Philips, Jnr.’ latest post ..Progress Evaluation For Entrepreneurs Part 3

  48. I do believe I am one of the crazy ones!
    Mahalo for such an inspiring post. So many quotes to live by it’s almost hard to pick a favorite out of it.

    I do know that I spent today supporting a friend do somethings she had never done before, listened to another friend we have at our home for a few days and am committed to a much more mindful life. I have passion to continue my practice in all the things you’ve included here.
    Jt Clough | Big Island Dog’ latest post ..The Reflection of Dislike

  49. Oh, Arvind! What a wonderful post – and one that makes me feel proud to be an Indian. I’ll never forget how someone from Spain, almost twenty or so years ago (I was learning Spanish at the time) – asked me where I was from. I said “India”. And he replied, “Oh, Gandhi-land” You can imagine how emotional I felt! I had gooseflesh all over thinking that ONE individual had such an impact on the whole world.

    Your post is very, very beautiful and I am very proud to share it!

    Thank you! We maintain two minutes of silence at 11 am today. And I’ll be sure to read an excerpt from “My experiments with truth” by M.K.Gandhiji.

    With love and hugs for this experience,

    Vidya
    Vidya Sury’ latest post ..Sunday In My City – Vishwa Shanti Ashram 1

  50. Simple, to the point, but lovely list! Great post… esp love “start today” :)
    Crystal @YogiCrystal’ latest post ..Yogalicious Pose of the Month…

  51. Hi Arvind,
    I love this post on Gandhi and just incorporated a link to my post I was already working and just published!
    Betsy at Zen Mama’ latest post ..Self Esteem and The Literal Mom

  52. Hi Arvind,

    Usually I like to make comments about the specifics, which I liked about a post.

    However, in this case I want to say I really liked overall, the messages in this post. I too am fascinated by Gandhiji’s life and what he achieved.

    I believe you conveyed his key principles and how we can apply them in the here and now, quite beautifully.

    Thank you.
    Hiten’ latest post ..My message to the global education system

  53. John Massaquoi says:

    I had never known that Ghandi was that powerful.I fell for his ideas and regret trying to have it all in this life.Afterall, you have to die one day.Be happy now at whatever level this life places you.

  54. Hello Arvind,

    Came here from Melody’s blog. you have a very nice site and blog! Cool!
    Great post!

  55. I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
    I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
    And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
    If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
    Take A Look At Yourself,
    And Then Make A…
    Change :)

  56. It’s very nice. and i have a Gandhiji inside of me, just waiting to emrge.

  57. Great post Arvind, very inspiring!

  58. Jas Jaspal says:

    Hi Arvind, Just saw this, very inspiring mate, hope all is well with you

    Jas

  59. Mark Dalagan says:

    I love your blogs/article.
    It is very inspiring and moving.
    I want to be part of the change that i wish to happen in my community and in order to that I have to change myself first according to change i wanted to happen. All of us can make a difference. Thank You Sir for this post.

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