How I Keep My Family Healthy

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine, Issue 21)

Joseph Bismark Vegetarian
Keeping your family on desirable levels of health and wellness, today, can be a challenge. The downside to the advancement of science and technology is the myriad of new causes of stress in our daily living, and the drastic change in our food nutrients within the last half century. Food we eat today is in stark contrast to what our grandparents ate. Given this, how do you keep your family healthy?

This is how I do it – you might pick up a thing or two from this list.

Eating right should be their fundamental education 

Children eat what they see you eat. I’m a vegetarian and so is my wife, and therefore so are my kids. I’ve educated my kids early in their lives on the importance of eating real food and respecting life and the environment. They emulate my eating habits. My diet consists of organic salads, fruits, and grains cooked naturally. They may indulge in sweet snacks and desserts once in a while but their staple diet consists of nutrient-packed meals. They say no to drinks stuffed with unnatural elements – soft drinks and energy drinks – as they know that those are nothing but poison.

Let them discover the joy of exercise 

An active lifestyle is not something you can impose on your family but I’ve always encouraged my kids to be physically active; me being a living example to them. I walk the talk by doing my regular exercises – bodyweight workout, biking, as well as practicing and teaching yoga. I’ve had many light conversations with them, as they were growing up, about the natural high you get from exercising, the different levels of health consciousness, about what kind of food and physical activities are best for which body types, and what kind of danger unnatural, useless, and senseless vices like smoking pose to our health and well-being.

Allow them to indulge themselves once in a while but keep reminding them

Children, as they grow up, may try unhealthy ways but they always go back to the fundamental good that you’ve taught them. My kids, as I’ve mentioned, enjoy eating cheesecakes and ice cream from time to time, but indulgences like these do not form part of their daily habits. Re-education is key. Constantly reminding them of the benefits of good health does not hurt at all. You as a parent should be the steadfast anchor that keeps them from wandering off the right path.

Teach them how to create balance

Give your family a strong spiritual foundation. Teach them ways to manage stress. Never get tired of spending time with them and having long enlightening conversations about living and loving. Encourage them to engage in activities that alleviate psychological and emotional strain, and help strengthen their mental health. You can never go wrong with getting them into studying and practicing yoga, enrolling them in a mindfulness programme or pepping them up to commit to volunteering regularly in their favourite charity or being a vocal and visible champion of the cause they feel passionate about.

Living absolutely is a habit one creates or picks up, but you can always educate and inspire your family to make the right choice. If you get every member to make that choice then your family becomes a small ecosystem of health, wellness, and happiness.


Read more: Consistency and Flexibility: My Everyday Life

Consistency and Flexibility: My Everyday Life

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine, Issue 20)

joseph bismark gems of wisdom

Just like you, I like spending my days productively, and engaging in activities that not only make me feel better, but actually make me a better person. If you’re wondering how I typically spend an ordinary day, read on. Welcome to my everyday life!

I usually wake up at 05:30 Singapore Time, and after a shower, I meditate for one hour.

Meditation is my prayer. It connects the soul to the spiritual world, the realm of the Supreme Person. It is through this disciplined practice that we get to the point where we constantly think of the Supreme Person and find ourselves perpetually immersed in that frame of consciousness. As soon as I’m done meditating, I do my yoga asanas for 30 minutes and read a book for another 30 minutes or an hour.

After this, I sit back, relax and enjoy my protein drink. You see, protein is not just used by bodybuilders for the production of muscles; it’s also consumed by physically active people to help produce life-enhancing hormones, enzymes, and immune-system components.

Around 08:30 or 09:00, I start working – I read and respond to my emails and WhatsApp messages, check my social media pages, and make a few calls.

At 11:00, I eat my lunch – my first meal of the day. I’m strictly vegetarian so it’s usually brown rice and steamed greens and leafy vegetables.

In the afternoon, I continue my work on various projects. I get on a call with my partner, Vijay Eswaran and/or with the other Directors of the QI Group. I meet with my Executive Assistant for at least an hour to get updates on projects and to sign documents. I also do my banking activities in the afternoon.

There’s always one day in a week, at 16:00, when I either engage in a body-weight workout called Rip 60 with a personal trainer, or do some indoor climbing – rock climbing performed on artificial structures built indoors that tries to mimic the experience of an outdoor climb but in a controlled and safe environment.

I dedicate a few hours on a weekend, usually Saturday, to playing golf. I like golf because it’s an individual sport where the result is down to me alone – it’s me, on my own, against the course. It’s a great reminder for me that I am my greatest competitor.

At 18:30, I have my dinner, my second and last meal for the day. It’s usually something light like a bowl of soup or salad.

After dinner, I spend quality time with my wife and kids, ask them how their day has been and have a conversation with them about various topics that are near and dear to us.

Between 20:00 and 21:00, I sip on a relaxing cup of chamomile or saffron tea.

There are evenings when I get to swim a few laps or do some cycling. When I have more free time available in the day, I login to my account on Lumosity for some brain training exercises – it’s one great programme that keeps my mind and memory sharp.

I usually go to bed around 22:00 or 22:30.

And that’s a typical day at home, but my daily schedule is not written in stone. It gets jumbled up from time to time, especially when I’m entertaining guests or travelling or attending big corporate meetings or events. However, I don’t make any of these an excuse to break my healthy eating habits and my fitness and wellness routine. It’s a must that you stick with the activities that give you sound mind, body, and spirit, no matter what variables are thrown into your days.

There shouldn’t be any conflict between consistency and flexibility; they should complement each other. Apply this principle to how you spend every day and you’ll soon feel the difference of living a full, healthy and well-balanced life. Now, that’s what we call Absolute Living!

READ ALSO: Urgent vs Important: Know The Difference

Urgent vs Important: Know the Difference

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine, Issue 19)

joseph bismark on urgent vs important

Sometimes, we say something we don’t really mean. We don’t even rethink it.

If I ask, ‘Is life important to you?’, you will say ‘yes’. If so, health would be too, right? And if health is important, then so are diet and exercise; but only few of us eat and exercise properly every day.

Many of us consume processed and fast foods that are convenient for life on the go, or because we perceive them as delicious. We don’t exercise because there are more important tasks, errands and obligations that require our time, or simply because exercising requires too much effort. Our list of reasons is endless.

This is where we should apply the Eisenhower Principle. In his 1954 speech, former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This is the principle that enabled him to organise his workload and priorities.

According to the website, the urgency of a task is largely governed by deadlines whereas the importance of a task is decided by the impact or significant change created. Urgency is driven by external factors like deadlines whereas importance is a more introspective exercise. What you consider important can differ from what others consider as important.

What we find difficult to grasp is that things that are most important are not urgent.

Proper diet and exercise are not “urgent” things to do, but you know they’re the most important in your life. We can always postpone our exercise routine or not do it at all. The next thing we know, we’re gaining weight and falling sick because of our sedentary lifestyle. Spending quality time with our loved ones is of utmost importance but other so-called urgent activities get in the way – and they are always going to be there anyway. The next thing we know, our loved ones start to drift away from us and relationships suffer.

We suffer because we don’t prioritise health and relationships. We prioritise activities that we think are urgent, like being competitive at work, paying bills on time, giving in to peer pressure and influences and cultivating habits that make us feel good for the moment but don’t help us in the long run.

We get caught up in things that are urgent but not important because we always fail to plan – time is the biggest factor here. While it’s true that managing time is difficult, it’s easy to manage the events and activities that make up our time by asking ourselves, ‘what is important?’ The more we plan, the less urgent matters we have to deal with and we can focus on what’s important.

It always pays to be truthful to ourselves. What is urgent? What is important? We should strive to schedule our tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency. This is how we can achieve a well-balanced life.


READ ALSO: My Health and Wellness Tools 

My Health and Wellness Tools

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine Issue 18)



Aside from being a strict vegetarian, I am a staunch advocate of holistic health and wellness. And I walk my talk! I work out, do my yoga asanas (poses), go cycling and I swim. I make it a point to do at least one physical activity every day and I want to share with you some of the tools that I use to maintain a sound mind and body.

Fitness Programme: The Rip 60
I like working out and I have been using the Rip 60 for a while now. It uses your bodyweight along with the Rip 60 equipment for a well-rounded workout covering flexibility, strength, stability and balance.

Weights: Kettlebells
I use kettlebells in my workout at least once a week. It is a cast-iron or cast steel weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. In the 1700s it was a tool to weigh crops but now, it is used as equipment for exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

Application: MapMyRide
When I’m cycling, I use the MapMyRide mobile app. It uses the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track all your fitness activities. It’s got route tracking, social media sharing, site integration (stores all your historical workout data) and training log (records duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation and calories burned data for each workout).

Book: Anatomy of Yoga
Yoga is my way of life; it is the intrinsic and instinctive essence of my being. I live it and teach it. I’m now a yoga master at the Singapore School of Mediation and Yoga and for me to be an effective teacher, it’s essential that I continue learning. One of the books I’m reading is Anatomy of Yoga: An Instructor’s Inside Guide to Improving Your Poses by Dr Abigail Ellsworth. It helps me know more about the physiology of yoga asanas – the muscles that are engaged by specific poses, how to maximise the benefits of each pose and how to design a yoga routine to focus on problem areas.

Application: SoundCloud
Synonymous with prayer, meditation is actual practice of yoga. It connects the soul to the spiritual world, the realm of the Supreme Person. I upload mantras and bhajans chanting recordings of mine with friends and family on my SoundCloud page. To listen to some new tracks of meditative chanting, please visit

Brain Training Programme: Lumosity
I use Lumosity to ensure that my brain remains sharp and healthy. It is scientifically designed and personalised and works out all aspects of the brain using fun scientific games that can be played on any device. It is backed by a team of research scientists with 40+ years of combined experience. I’m on it at least 15 minutes every day.
I believe in the importance of immersing ourselves in as many physical and mental activities as we can. Aside from the fact that activities keep us active and fit, they also help us conquer self-doubts and fears, to achieve the best version of ourselves.


READ ALSO: Stop Hammering Your Thumb

The Road to Long Life


Longevity by Joseph Bismark


It is no secret that longevity is achieved through a healthy, happy lifestyle – better eating habits, more exercise, less intoxicants, less stress. This is a topic that has been widely covered and often brings us to the regions of Nagano and Okinawa in Japan, where people have the longest life expectancy in the world. A well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and extended work years have helped these people not only live very long lives, but do so while remaining healthy and productive.

We can achieve this kind of life too if we change our mindset on how we live our daily life. How we spend our every day is how we spend our life. If we allow ourselves to always partake in the abusive excesses of modernisation, our health, which is supposed to be our wealth, suffers and eventually gets depleted. But if we engage in a paradigm shift and commit to taking care of all aspects of our health, we can enjoy a life similar to that of the Okinawans.

Your lifestyle is key to enjoying a long, fulfilling life with your loved ones. Ensure that all aspects of your health – physical, mental, spiritual – are taken care of at all times. It could be as simple as choosing organic over processed foods, meditating in the morning, communing with nature, dedicating a few minutes everyday to simple exercises, and complementing these little efforts with regular consumption of natural health supplements that you can consider as top-ups for your life. This is how you embrace a lifestyle that will help you cope with the stresses brought about by modern living.

Kenta is a delicious natural-formula beverage inspired by the aforementioned Okinawan Diet, which is famed for bringing longevity and youth. It contains extracts of some of the most nutritious ingredients, which modulate hormones and supply vital nutrients to the body to increase its cell production.

Kenta is also proudly vegan. Its formula contains no animal derivatives, and no animal testing has been done for this product. It contains no artificial flavours and colouring, and no preservatives, and no GMO ingredients.

So, if you want to take the road to long life, drink Kenta!




Stop Hammering Your Thumb

An advice on taking care of your health
(Originally published in aspIRe magazine Issue 17)



A man pounded his thumb with a hammer and went to see a doctor to get it treated. The thumb became purple and swollen, and blood oozed out from the wound. The doctor, without even establishing a rapport with the man, cleaned his thumb, bandaged it, wrote him a prescription and sent him home. A few weeks later, the man came back to see the same doctor for the same reason. The nonchalant doctor gave him the same treatment and did not check why the same thing happened.

Many of us are like the man in this story. We take our health for granted and indulge in activities that take a toll on our well-being. When we get sick, we spend on medicine and therapy and when we get well, we do the very same things that make us sick over and over again – eating unhealthy food, not getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol, smoking and so on. We hammer our body with poison and subject it to continuous abuse.

How do you take care of your car? You make sure the engine is in top shape, put premium grade engine oil additives in it, and get it tuned up and washed regularly. Now think of your body as your car. Shouldn’t you be taking care of it the same way you’re taking care of your car if not better? The premium oil that you put in your car is like the food that you eat and the exercise that you do. The premium oil diminishes the friction in your car engine, improves its performance and prolongs its life. The food that you eat produces the same results in your body – well-performing organs and a well-functioning brain. Physical exercise gives you strong bones and muscles and increased stamina to get you through the rigours of everyday life.

If you find yourself getting sick often, you should address the problem by zeroing in on its roots. Spend time on quiet introspection. Make an honest self-assessment to find out what’s making you sick. Chances are you’ll find that what gives you a temporary feeling of goodness is what makes you sick. If you’re hanging out with people that influence you to binge drink or smoke, you have the option to either cut ties with them or influence them to commit to a lifestyle change. If your weight has come to a point where it’s giving you problems physically and emotionally, you have the option to either live with it like a walking time bomb or deal with it by losing weight by exercising, cutting down on food portions, and keeping oily, fatty foods and carbonated drinks at bay. If you have relationships that bring you mental and emotional abuse, you either allow them to continue hurting you or choose to say goodbye and live a happy, stress-free life. The decision to live a life of health and wellness really comes from no one but you. Your well-being is not served on a silver platter. You are responsible for your own health. You drive your own life.

Editor of Mike Adams, in his article entitled ‘Good Health is no accident’, wrote “The person believes health is something that happens TO them rather than something that happens THROUGH them. And so, they remain stuck, floundering in a pattern of self-inflicted sickness and disease while hoping that some other organisation, government or health care plan will somehow save them.

“Those who seek answers for their health outside the realm of their own decisions are looking in the wrong place. Health is no accident. Lasting health can only appear as the result of a lifetime of informed, deliberate decisions aligned with nature’s principles of health, not the distorted version of health promoted by our backward system of mainstream medicine.

Health is a mindset. How you value your life is directly correlated to how you take care of your health. So, for your sake, make the choice to stop beating up your body. Stop hammering your thumb!

READ ALSO: The Essence of Meditation

Taking Care of the Material Body and the Person Inside

Taking Care of Body & Mind
(Originally published in aspIRe Magazine Issue 15)

I would like to share with you all my thoughts on a subject that’s very close to my heart – how to achieve overall soundness of body and soul.

We all have ego. The real meaning of ego is the self – I am. But sometimes, we put on a false ego. This false ego takes on many shapes and forms. For instance, if you identify yourself as a doctor and that’s what you call yourself, that’s a false ego. You are using a label to describe yourself; it’s not who you really are. You were not always a doctor or may not even be a doctor for the rest of your life. This goes for any other label you may give yourself. The false ego is the conditioning of a person to his/her environment. It is influenced by factors such as occupation, religion, nationality and name, among others. This false ego becomes your identity. This false identity then makes up who you are. Your success or happiness will be based on who you think you are. If you have misidentified yourself as a material body, false identity equals false goals. If I identify myself with my material body, I would automatically think that the more I indulge or gratify my senses, the happier I will be. I’ll associate my happiness with food or buy all the latest fashion just to keep myself happy.

If you think you’re the material body, you become the senses that comprise the body. So what would be your goal in life? Sense gratification. However, that should not be the case. You are doing that only to fill up your emptiness inside.

You have to understand that you’re not just the material body. There’s a person inside that you’re forgetting. Let me use a birdcage as an analogy. A cage is not just a cage. There’s usually a bird living in it. If you don’t feed the bird everyday, it will die. If you’re just cleaning the cage and neglecting the bird inside, it will without a doubt die. What’s the point of having a nice, shiny cage if it’s empty?

Similarly, what’s the point of taking good care of your body but neglecting the person inside? If you speak of success, what is it to you? Is it having a lot of money but ending up destroying your body by drinking, smoking and eating junk food? Does that equal success? Do you work so hard to make money only to engage in activities that would end up harming your body? Or, can success be something else? Such as, using that money to become a better person, a better citizen of the world. Do we not all want to be better people?

The real ego is you – the self, spirit-soul. The spirit-soul is the consciousness that sustains the whole body. Without my consciousness or awareness, I would not be able to type this message. When the soul leaves the body, the body dies. When the body is unable to function properly due to a disease or old age, the soul has to leave. Essentially, death only pertains to the material body because the soul is eternal.

So, take good care of yourself. Feed yourself with food for the mind, body and spirit. Eat healthy. Exercise. Spend time with yourself by communing with nature and meditating. Read books that give you spiritual enrichment and enhance your understanding of the human experience. Love and respect all living beings. Contribute to the betterment of the society.

Stress is Good



In any situation, the right amount of stress is necessary.

Stress is needed to build muscles. Body builders start with lifting light barbells then gradually increase the weights through the process until they are able to lift a 350 pounder. A gradual increase in stress for the muscles is what builds and strengthens the muscles.

People who are way too sheltered are the ones that easily break down in the face of stress. Kids who play too much video games are the first ones to be out of breath when playing outdoor sports. Adults who were brought up in a pampered lifestyle are liable to have a nervous breakdown in instances of extreme stress. Married couples who couldn’t cope with the day-to-day stress of married life eventually separate. It’s a basic human tendency to get distressed when confronted with physical, mental, emotional, relational and financial stress.

But, we see successful entrepreneurs who manage their businesses and take care of their families like they’re just dancing through life. We marvel at the way they carry themselves in sorting out business challenges, in dealing with both peers and detractors and in keeping a healthy and loving relationship with their spouses and kids. We wonder what makes them so different that they don’t cave in despite the enormous amount of stress in their lives. The difference is that they know how to manage stress smartly and effectively.

Stress builds your character. It makes you become a better person. It sharpens you like how friction sharpens a knife. All the odds that you’ve conquered; all the rejections that you got over with; and, all the contrarians whom you’ve either won over or bowed to, have in one way or another strengthened your ability to tolerate and manage stress and pain. Every life experience has made you become more patient and resilient, more introspective and more accepting of life’s realities.

The first step to managing stress is to understand that the world is fundamentally a stressful place. Day-to-day challenges are inevitable. We either complain about it perennially or manage it and enjoy the beauty and goodness that life offers.

When we manage life’s little stresses, we prepare ourselves to conquer the bigger ones. Joining the Boston Marathon entails at least a year of intensive training. Climbing the Andes or the Himalayas requires an extensive mountaineering experience. Entrepreneurial success comes from years of hard work and headaches and the ability to not lose sight of the goal no matter what. Building an unbreakable relationship needs an enormous amount of honest conversations, compromises and making amends – these are like the strands that make up a straw rope. The more strands the rope has, the better its tensile strength.

The Samurai sword, or katana, is a Japanese weapon renowned for its sharpness and strength. The process of making it involves heating a piece of steel in a furnace, forging it, shaping the blade, treating the blade with a special clay mixture, quenching the steel, tempering and polishing the blade and securing the blade on the fabricated handle. That’s the amount of stress the piece of steel is given for it to become a formidable weapon. In life, we need the same amount of stress and the ability to deal with it in order to become strong, pliable and polished individuals.


Corporate Social Responsibility….What it Means to Me

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an initiative close to my heart and one I advocate very seriously.

If you’re not entirely sure what it means, it’s a concept where corporations give back to society usually through corporate philanthropy or volunteerism programmes. If done with the right intentions, it’s an admirable movement that can make a big impact to worthwhile causes. However, it is also a sad fact that some organisations do it mainly for the positive publicity it might bring. After the programme ends, beneficiaries are often forgotten. That’s a shame because with their resources, businesses are really in an optimum position to make a huge difference.

Most times, these programmes are aligned to a company’s corporate values which is fine. After all, as long as they do it with pure intentions, the initiatives still help society. However, to make a sustainable change, let’s get to the root of what’s troubling mankind.

You might have heard of the phrase, “What’s the value of saving the clothes of a drowning man but not the man himself?” It simply means it’s better to get to the root of the problem and solve it once and for all.

How does this phrase apply to us? In society, we’re all drowning, not literally, but with diseases, pain and suffering. Financial aid helps in the short term but does not get to the bottom of the issue. Monetary donations, for example, may help a poor family feed themselves for a month but do not eradicate poverty in the long term.

A truly sustainable CSR programme would be education of the spirit. This is going beyond traditional CSR so it might be a foreign concept to some of you. Let me illustrate what I mean.

Rich or poor, there are things everyone goes through. These are birth, disease, old age and death.

I’m extremely thankful to my friends and teachers who inculcated the spirit of charity in me since I was a boy. We spent a lot of time helping people and providing food for the poor. More importantly, we educated people both spiritually about the soul and who they really are, and mentally to help them create a better life for themselves. At the end, the key lesson they walked away with is, material things will not make them happy. They realise the truth – that we’re not the material body but the spirit soul. Suddenly, something trivial like not having enough money to upgrade our car will not matter anymore because you realise materialism is just temporary.

That is true CSR to me. After all, social responsibility means caring for others.

As they say, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. It’s all about empowering society with the right tools and knowledge to improve their lives. By society, let’s not forget to include the animals we share the world with and the environment we live in.

So let’s all do our part in caring and only then can we make real sustainable change.
Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

The Story of the ‘One Sack of Rice’

Much is being said in the news lately about the “fiscal cliff” and its potential negative impact on the world economy. Then, there is decreased manufacturing output that may spell the beginning of another recession. A lot of people I’ve spoken to recently have voiced their fears over losing their jobs, or having to scale back. While I understand their worry, my reply to them is there’s really no point in worrying. Good times come and go.

Let me share a story from my childhood that illustrates this really well…

When I was younger and living in an ashram, we had to look for means of livelihood. The best option was farming and selling the harvested crop for money. I remember, vividly, the first year we started farming.

Most of us had no knowledge of farming whatsoever and had to rely on the advice and guidance from our elders. Being first-timers, we started with planting one sack of rice on one hectare of land. We toiled tirelessly to ensure our crop would grow healthily – fertilising, watering our crop, weeding bad growth, and making sure our crop was pest-free. It was back-breaking work but we soldiered on, hoping to get a good harvest. The end result surprised us all. We harvested a record 126 sacks of rice! Of course, we were beyond ourselves with joy, this being our first time.

We had been so excited to farm that we never thought of a plan after harvesting. It never occurred to us that we would need a barn in which to store our rice. Not having built one, we stored the sacks out in the open. We were literally sleeping on the sacks of rice! That’s how much of novices we were.

Rearing to go after our success, we waited for the next harvesting season. Wanting to double our harvest, we put in even more effort this time. With hard work, we had gotten 126 sacks the first time. So, double the effort equals double the gain, right? It doesn’t take a mathematician to come up with that formula. However, that year, the Philippines faced one of its worst typhoons ever. Not only was our growing crop destroyed, the 126 sacks were all washed away since they were not protected in a barn.

We were absolutely devastated and almost gave up. However, as hard as it was, we had to pick ourselves up and continue planting.

You might wonder why I’m telling you this story. The moral is to never give up. After we lost our entire crop, we did not want to plant again. What’s the point, we thought? Do we not think like this at times? The fact is many things in life are beyond our control. We didn’t know what the season will bring but we could control the amount of effort we put in. In fact, that is the only factor we can control.

It’s the same in business – there will be good and bad years but we never know when. The more pertinent question is, should we stop trying? We’re all like farmers – planting seeds of opportunity, weeding out bad growth and continually harvesting. Now the storm may be coming. This might be a bad year economically. However, complaining and worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere. Good and bad times are a part of life, like day and night.

What happens is not in our hands but one thing we can’t do is sit around and speculate. Just as farmers don’t stop planting, businessmen shouldn’t stop investing in an idea just because they’ve lost once.

Happy New Year!

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group