Penny for your thoughts?
By Shaan Bajaj
Do you ever wake up to a ‘quote of the day’ from one of the many family group chats on WhatsApp, where they touch on a familiar life experience, but with an uplifting spin? I once collected these quotes on a Pinterest board, just to come back to whenever I needed a reminder of something. As I scrolled through Davinder ‘Tony’ Grover’s Instagram page, aptly named Tony’s Thought of the Day (TOD), I was intrigued by his similar concept, where he shares a thought to inspire people, every day.
Born in Thailand, and raised in India, Tony is a hardworking businessman, with his own company. However, his passion lies in psychology, and it encouraged him to recently complete a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Psychology from Europe International University. Coupled with his love for Gurbani, Sikhism’s Holy Scripture, Tony combines the both when delivering his message to help people navigate their daily lives.
He shares the conceptualisation of his journey, and how his ‘Thoughts of the Day’
have allowed for new connections, and a never-ending stream of inspiration.
You run an Instagram and Facebook page, ‘Tony’s Thought of the Day.’ When did you start your page, and what inspired you to start it?
My Instagram page was established a few years back, but the concept of ‘Tony’s Thought of the Day’ originated 16 years ago. It began when someone suggested I share thoughts supported by Gurbani, stating that people often seek relatable everyday life experiences in the form of headings. With her guidance and assistance, I initially started sending my thoughts via emails, then via SMS as well. As WhatsApp gained popularity, I expanded the length of my messages. Eventually, I began sharing them on Facebook and more recently, on Instagram.
What do you hope to achieve with your content? Has the reaction been what you hoped for?
A master once told his disciple, “Whenever you see fire and people are in trouble, take a bucket of water and douse that fire. It doesn’t matter if the size of your bucket is small or if such a small amount of water cannot douse the entire fire, you just do your job.” They say the vision of Guru Nanak Dev ji was to douse the fire in the lives of people, whether the fire was in relationships, or it was related to culture, social injustices, personal neglect, or the blaze of thoughts that was burning their lives away. People are living in an inferno of anger, jealousy, competition, and discontent. The words of wisdom are to wake them up, so they can come out of the house of fire that is devouring their precious life away. I am here with my bucket of water to do my best.
Did you have knowledge in content creation before you started?
I started this journey with an idea in my mind; slowly, some people joined in and it became a procession. A few people edit my work daily, and I listen to their opinion because they correct my mistakes. Then there is my brother, my mentor Dalbir Singh and his entire family, who have guided me to put reels on Instagram, and told me how they can reach out to more people. If you ask me, I have very little knowledge of how things are done, but I am blessed with people who have guided me. With the sagacity of Gurbani and knowledge of psychology, I am confident it’ll make a big difference in the lives of people.
What topics do you focus on, and why?
My area is mental health psychology and I focus is on how to be mentally healthy. I talk about illnesses and hope that once those illnesses are taken care of, what will be left is plain health and joy. It can range from the way we think, our social conformities, trying to live for the world rather than what is right, trying to amass external success rather than self-actualisation or internalisation. The topics are vast, and I always heed the wisdom of Gurbani, and try and talk to people in a language they understand.
I have noticed you often use Gurbani texts as a starting point, before delving into deeper meanings. What encouraged you to turn to these texts?
To me, Gurbani is an ocean with jewels and gems from each religion. It has been given to us using anecdotes and examples from real life. It has, and shall always be, my greatest source of inspiration. Yet I do not believe in converting anybody when it comes to religion. My religion is a personal journey, and what anyone believes is not my solicitude. My concern is like someone who is serving langar in a Gurudwara, I want to give people food for thought, daily, without any agenda or discrimination of caste, colour, religion, nationality or culture. The ‘water in my bucket’ is colourless and it will not turn clothes into a colour I want.
You use a mix of word-based posts and video content, why is that? What do you think works better?
Some people love to read, others enjoy videos more. There are different types of learning methods, whether they are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. If you have merchandise, you have to know what your audience wants and provide it in a language or method that they are open to. The youth commonly speak English, and it is important to reach out to them in a language they understand. However, I do not shy away from speaking in other languages. I love Hindi, Punjabi, Thai, and Urdu, so given a chance, I use these too.
You’ve gained around 3,000 followers in a short amount of time, did you expect that? What would you credit your following to?
When I used to go to people’s houses to speak to them, I used to get an audience of 20 to 30 people at times, and I was happy even speaking to five people. 3,000 people following my page is a crazy number. It is like there are 3,000 people sitting in front of me and I am speaking to them. It is overwhelming. The readers have always given me immense blessings and appreciation. The numbers have never been a factor, it is knowing that what I share has potentially made a difference in someone’s life that keeps me going.
What has surprised you about this journey so far?
The miracles that come about every day. Somehow, life has a lesson to teach me on a daily basis, and the days I am not able to come up with a TOD, somebody’s message will inspire me to write another TOD.
Can you tell us an interaction that has come out from your page that has really touched your heart?
Before I go on about how I have been overwhelmed with blessings, let me rephrase the immortal words of Kabir ji, who basically says, “This body is a gift. Our language, our experiences, everything, has been given to us by everyone around us.”
My father passed away a month ago, and as a tribute to him, I shared just one of the lessons out of the innumerable life lessons he gave me. That reel became viral. People have praised what I said and what I shared. The response has been overwhelming and I am short of words to express my gratitude. I only hope my thoughts have been inspirational enough to steer the direction of some people’s thoughts in a positive direction, and bring about harmony and peace in their lives. Everything that has happened in my life is thanks to an abundance of blessings, hence I cannot ever have the audacity of taking credit for my success.