We've long known the benefits of habits--even before Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Regular readers of my column know the value of sidchas--Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activities--which are more than just habits. They help define you.

Successful people have sidchas. Not all, but many, and many credit them for their success. Jadav "Molai" Payeng, an Indian man born in 1963, may have outdone them all--to all of our benefit.

He created a forest

For the past 30 years, Payeng has planted trees, nearly daily, on an island in the Brahmaputra River in the state of Assam, India. No government or other organization helped.

Doesn't sound like much, does it?

The result?

He created a forest covering an area greater than Central Park's. It houses biodiversity that includes tigers, elephants, monkeys, vultures, many varieties of trees, and more.

His motivation came from seeing the island becoming wasteland and acting. He didn't just extend an existing forest. He built a forest from dissolving wasteland.

This documentary, Forest Man, illustrates his story. There are more details on his Wikipedia page, along with links to learn more.

The online magazine Sanctuary Asia profiled him and the forest he created in depth in The Strange Obsession Of Jadav Payeng. (I can't help asking, why call planting a forest strange? Don't we want more people doing such things?)

A personal note

I can't tell if I feel more humbled or inspired.

People often seem impressed when they learn of my 7-plus years of over 100,000 burpees or 8+ years of nearly 3,000 blog posts. The more I do my sidchas, the more they become like brushing my teeth--ordinary parts of my day. They create humility

Presenting to cadets at West Point last semester and seeing their discipline and its results helped instill more humility at my more modest achievements.

Payeng's feat and his humility puts my efforts in greater context. I won't lie, even after 100,000 burpees, each set is hard.

Payeng's results make them seem a lot less hard. A few calisthenics seem like nothing compared to creating a forest larger than Central Park.


Do you feel inspired?

He barely had any money or other resources on an American scale. What can you do if you do something daily, even if just for yourself, not for the greater world?

What if you did it to help the world too?