"I will cherish this compliment forever"—Sachin Tendulkar
He is every bit the all-rounder you thought he was, on the field and in life. A true role model for India, Sachin Tendulkar, thinker, philosopher, and a complete family man speaks his heart out to Sunandan Lele. He was stumped when he was told that he is India's hero even off the pitch. Befitting a legend, Sachin Tendulkar is humbled by the overwhelming love of his countrymen…
In a nationwide poll, people have voted you as the healthiest and happiest Indian. How do you feel about it?
Sachin Tendulkar: [Breaks into a heart-warming smile] Goodness me! Is it true? My countrymen think that I am the healthiest and happiest person in the country? What a compliment! I am truly overwhelmed. I will cherish this compliment forever.
This compliment means more to me because people have also chosen great individuals like APJ Abdul Kalam, Amitabh Bachchan, Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Anil Ambani, Salman and Shah Rukh Khan. There is no doubt that all these great Indians have contributed immensely to their respective fields. People from any small town or metro knowthese great Indians because of their hard work. That is why being in this elite group gives me immense satisfaction.
What is the correlation between health, happiness and wellbeing?
Sachin Tendulkar: As far as health is concerned, I thank God for letting me represent India for 19 long years. Critics talk about the injuries I have sustained. What they forget is that I have been pursuing a career in sports at the highest level for the last 19 years. Cricket is my first love. Playing for India was my greatest dream…ambition. I thank God for allowing me to play so many matches for my beloved country. [Sachin's international tests and ODIs total up to over 550 matches]
Now talking about happiness, I am even more fortunate to find a perfect Guru in Achrekar Sir and to have a great family. My father, who is my role model in life; my mother; my two brothers, Ajit and Nitin; and my sister, Savita—they are all pillars of my strength. And how can I forget my kaka-kaku? At Shivaji Park, I stayed with them for four crucial years. Then my wife, Anjali's entry into my life was another blessing… and my two lovely kids, Sara and Arjun. God has been very kind to me.
Good health comes from a little bit of hard work and divine blessings. Happiness comes when you have great people around you to share the successes and failures of your life. It is not only about scoring centuries, winning matches, or reaching landmarks. For me, if you don't have the right people to share it all with, then the real fun factor is missing. "It is lonely at the top" they say. If according to cricket lovers, I am on top of the world, I would say, "I may be on the top, but I am certainly not lonely." There is more joy in achieving something when you have people to share the joy with. That, for me, is the correlation between health, happiness and wellbeing.
Modern-day life is riddled with stressful and anxiety-ridden situations. What is the best way to relax and unwind?
Sachin Tendulkar: Pressure is part and parcel of modern life. I think that a class-nine student too faces the pressures of studying and scoring good marks. For me, how you deal with the pressure is important. You get used to the pressure and then you learn to deal with it. In a way, it is better to learn this process, because there is no other option, and there will always be pressure. Sometimes, pressure is good. It makes you realise the value of certain things in your life. You learn how important they are. I am happy to have faced such pressures. They do not affect my performance, but challenge me to perform better.
Pressure gets to you because your mind is either delving into the past, or is peeping into the future. If your mind is preoccupied with past failures, or is anticipating future ones, then the pressure builds. Your mind has to be in the present. Only then will you not feel the pressure. This is exactly what we are taught while meditating. Experts teach us to concentrate on our breathing. This method helps bring us to the present. Honestly, even today, I feel the heat before a big match. I get anxious about what will happen in next day's match. If I am able to follow a simple strategy of 'one ball at a time' when I'm taking the leg-stump guard on the pitch, then success follows. Control over mind is the only solution to deal with pressure. For that, try to live in the present.
Have you become more health-conscious today than you were before?
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes, I am more health-conscious now than I was when I started playing international cricket, back in 1989. At the time, the awareness was not there. I think cricket too has changed. Modern-day cricket is physically more demanding. As international cricketers, we get top-class guidance to maintain our fitness levels. Following a fitness routine or practising for a few hours is not a burden for me. But keeping my hands off delicious food…that is a big sacrifice! I love good food, you know. I love sweets—especially cheesecake and Alphonso mangoes—but I have to control myself. It's not about how much you eat, what's important, is what you eat. You can eat as much as you like if you are eating the right things. But if you are eating the wrong kind of food, then even eating less will harm you. As for fitness, to me, playing cricket is the best form of fitness… but I have also tried yoga, meditation, pranayam, gym and even aerobics.
The masses have also voted you as their role model for happiness. What keeps you happy and smiling always?
Sachin Tendulkar: Trust me, it's natural. I don't make any special effort to smile. It is simple… if you are happy and contented it just shows on your face. It has to come from within. And if people like it, I feel even better.
I find spending quality time with my kids, playing cards or carrom with them, playing gulli cricket with my close friends or just chatting with them to be no lesser joys. It is simple: many of us tend to miss the small, happy moments of our lives. Do you think earning a lot of money or achieving goals is everything in life? Happiness can be found in small, precious moments. As a batsman, if I am able to enjoy every run I make, only then can I score a hundred and enjoy that moment. One should be ready to absorb these moments. You must also learn to value the contribution of your family to your success and respect your better half.
What advice will you give our readers to help them get as healthy and happy as you?
Sachin Tendulkar: Health-wise, take care of yourself. Always listen to your inner voice. Think of what is important for you, what makes you happy and how you can keep those around you happy. Think of how you can care for those who matter the most. to you. If you can find a correlation between all of these, you will find health, happiness and complete wellbeing.
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