Atomic Habits, the famous book on habits by James Clear, defines habits as behaviour which is more or less repeated in an automatic way. Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviours to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which forms the codes for our brain and these codes are stored as pattern-recognising phenomena. First, we make habits and then, habits make us. Habits are what we are. They are the code of life for an individual. Hinduism as a way of life has evolved over centuries. It is the oldest and most flourishing civilisation in the world. The ancient seers of Hinduism have observed the human mind pattern and evolved some of the most productive habits at individual and societal level. We identify these habits with various names like sanskara, duty, dharma etc,.
These best practices are assimilated as daily habits which each Hindu should follow so as to be successful and happy. These values have been assimilated in the daily life of each Hindu as rituals and behaviours for a successful and satisfied life. By following these habits, observed the seers, one will achieve siddhi, which can be roughly translated as mastery over mind for any material or spiritual pursuit of success. Following are the core seven habits of success as per Hinduism.
Getting up before Sunrise
The first and foremost habit which is suggested for success in Hinduism is: getting up even before sunrise. Ideally, the wake up time for those who want to achieve success in life is half an hour before sunrise. This time is the time of peace, silence and tranquility in which one can meditate on the very purpose of their life and the day. Interestingly, the latest research in modern science is also coming to terms with the fact that getting up early has a direct bearing on one’s productivity and efficiency. Of late, the Western success-literature has also started realising the importance of getting up before sunrise. The 5AM Club (Robin Sharma), The Miracle Morning (Hal Elrod), The 5 AM Revolution (Dan Luca) are some of the most famous books by the most effective self-help coaches of the world, which are emphasising on the habit of getting up early in the morning to be more proficient, productive and positive.
Set the Purpose of Life
Famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow shook the world in 1954 with his book, Motivation and Personality, in which he proposed that five core needs form the basis for human behavioural motivation. As per his theory of motivation, there is a hierarchy of human needs which dictate an individual’s behaviour. Those needs are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualisation needs. The Hindu habits basis these human needs and life-goals in four parts viz, Dharma (righteousness), Artha (material needs), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (salvation). Every action of human being in their daily life is to be guided and dictated by these four touchstones. At the base of this hierarchy is Dharma, which should dictate every action and the ultimate aim of any action and life should be aimed at self-actualisation (Moksha) of the individual, which is very close to the concept of self actualisation propounded by Maslow.
World famous blogger on success and habits, Leo Babauta (Zen Habits), says that it’s no secret that he advocates meditation as a great way to start his day, deal with stress, live in the present and more. Meditation is one of the best ways to de-stress and de-clutter yourself. It is one of the best habits followed by success gurus like Jack Canfield, Anthony Robinson and others. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is Hindus who gave the world the art of meditation, be it Pranayam (breadth control) or other forms of stillness and body postures. This simple yet highly effective habit of meditation can give your day a great start.
Eat Mindfully and Colourfully
The world is fast realising the food and dietary ethics of Hinduism, which is must for success in any area of life. The Hindu code of habit is to have simple and nourishing food so that we get best out of our bodies. It suggests that not should you eat simple but also colourful (variety) food which has basic elements of nutrients. Ayurvedic diet says that each diet should have all the six basic tastes so that it can make you healthy, efficient and vibrant. Eating meal is equated with yagna where the metabolic-fire burns the offering in the form of chewed food to bring health and vitality to the body. Food is equated with medicine and eating healthy is a prerequisite for success. So, eating food is assimilated as a habituated ritual in Hinduism.
Efficiency and exercise are two sides of the same coin. Successful people do one or the other kind of exercise daily. You will not find any successful person who is not a fitness freak. As per Hindu habits, one should do yoga which is a way of controlling mind through body – in fact, you should start your day with yoga. Yoga is the best habit-gift of Hinduism to the world.
Competing with Yourself Instead of Others
Unlike the western culture of survival of the fittest, Hindu culture speaks of non-competition and mutual co-existence. When we live in harmony with the nature and other creatures, we perform better as we are less stressful and more open to others. For this, the Hindu culture suggests the habit of out-competing yourself instead of out-competing others in any cut-throat competition. So, the only competition is being better than your previous version and Siddhi is being your best version.
Habit of Focus
One of the best habits of success is inculcating the habit of being focused. Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this as a flow state which is complete immersion in an activity. In Hindu code of habits, Karma is an action when you absorb yourself in the chosen flow of work or thought. You are at your best version when you are immersed in your work. It forms the habit of Yoga Karma Su Koshlam, Karmar Su Koshlam, Yoga (Perfection in action and action in perfection) wherein an individual is absorbed in the action-state forgetting and giving up reward for the action. This state is when your body, mind, intellect and soul are at the same level and focused on the work at hand. As per flow theory, you can achieve efficiency up to 600 per cent if you are in the flow state of mind.
It is the Hindu Way of Life which is making Hindus successful in all spheres of life in each part of the world. And it is the responsibility of the Hindu society to take this to the rest of the world so that the human civilisation can realise its potential.
The writer is an independent columnist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.