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Offer a sincere greeting

In Sura Nisa (4:86), Allah says: And when you are offered a greeting, respond with a greeting that is better, or return it (with a equal courtesy).

Reflection: One of the easiest ways to build and strengthen social bonds is to greet others sincerely. Islam encourages us to greet one another with the greeting: "Peace be upon you". How beautiful is that since as human beings, peace is what we are ultimately searching for. It is also important to remember that while the initial greeing is highly recommended, a response to the greeting is incumbant upon us.

A hadith informs us that spreading greeetings of peace along with sharing food with others, maintaining family relations and praying in the middle of the night are acts that will grant one Paradise (ref: The Study Quran, pg 231).

Why: When someone reaches out to connect in this way, at the very least we are required to turn towards them with a similar or better greeting. The verse encourages to go further and offer a better greeting....

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Give full measure

Sura Isra, 17:35 And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with the straight balance. That is better and more virtuous in the end

Reflection: To give full measure when you measure, and weigh with the straight balance means to measure honestly rather than cheating people when trading goods and currency by using a balance that falsely overstates or understates the weight of what has been put upon it. It also means in a general way, to barter or exchange goods fairly and honestly so that what is given is equal to what is received.

Why: Trust is the basis of an evolved society. When transactions are carried out on the basis of trust, transactions are speeded up and less resources are needed for monitoring and accounting. In Switzerland for example, the entire transit system runs on the basis of trust. You buy your own ticket and only very rarely are random checks made. It is even rarer for those checking to catch someone who has not paid.

How: Let us look at our lives and see...

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Stop the blame game

In Sura Ibrahim, verse 14:22, it says: And do not blame me but blame yourselves.

Reflection: This verse from Surah Ibrahim is part of a conversation when Shaytan is telling mankind that instead of blaming him they should blame themselves.

Blaming others for our choices in life is SO easy isn't it? It also feels good in the moment because we do not have to deal with the pricks of conscience or negative emotions that accompany our poor choices and actions.

Ultimately however, blaming others is immobilizing and creates a feeling of powerlessness.

Why? If we convince ourselves that power and responsibility lies outside of ourselves, and someone else is to blame for what we are doing, it follows that we have no control or agency to change our situation. This leads to a victim mentality. Not a very inspiring way to live, is it?

We have been give free will to make choices in our lives, however limited or unpleasant those choices appear in the moment. When we accept this gift of choice, we...

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The steps to completing relationships

As we started discussing yesterday, keeping our relationships complete is essential to living a life that matters – if we are not complete with our relationships, it robs our energies from things that we are meant to do. We cannot really focus on bigger things.

Having incomplete relationships really hinders our spiritual growth.

Why? Because we are designed to be in connection – when we are not connected to other human beings on an authentic level, we are not at peace.

Try this for yourself. Think of someone you are not at peace wit, whether you are currently in relationship with this person or not – now reflect on how much (negative) space they occupy in your mind and your heart. It is as if you are energetically connected to them with an invisible cord. Completion is about setting yourself and them free.

Keeping our relationships complete is not difficult. It involves 5 simple steps:


a. Communicating upset and resentment

b. Apologizing

c. Forgiving

d. Expressing...

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I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

This week we are continuing with our series which is inspired by the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. This book by Bronnie Ware, the palliative care nurse who took care of patients in their last three to twelve weeks of life, is about the stories and confessions from people at the end of their life and talks about the regrets people had for how they wished they had made different choices in life.

One of the top regrets of the dying, Ware found, was not making the time for important friendships. Many found that in the busyness of life, they tended to let go of relationships until they fell out of touch with once-good-friends.

She writes, "Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving...

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The wisdom of silence

Continuing with our series on the timeless wisdom of Imam Ali (as), the quote for today is: "Safety lies in silence. It is easier to rectify what you miss by silence, than to secure what you lose by speaking". Imam Ali (AS)

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Said the first thing that came into your head without pausing to consider if it met the criteria for wise speech or if it needed to be said at all?

If you have, you have probably lived to regret such statements. It is so easy to react in the moment and say things which add no value to our life and can cause pain and distress to those we love.

It is helpful to remind ourselves that we lose nothing by pausing, breathing and choosing silence in the moment. Our speech is more impactful if we are intentional in choosing our words, not reacting in the moment.

A mental mantra that I often repeat to get into the habit of pausing before speaking is: "Engage brain before operating mouth".

Try it.

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Turn knowing into doing

Many Muslims around the world are celebrating the birth of Imam Ali (as) this week and so I would like to share some timeless wisdom from this great spiritual leader which continues to inspire millions today.

Imam Ali (as) said: "Knowledge, if not acted upon, departs." Along the same lines, he also said: "Knowledge is of two kinds, that which is absorbed and that which is heard. And that which is heard does not profit if it is not absorbed".

Have you ever wondered why we remember so little of what we read and hear? It is because what we hear, does not 'settle' into our being. It passes by without making an impact. "In one ear and out the other", as the saying goes.

Can we change this so that we remember more of what we learn? So that what we learn transforms our lives for the better?

For sure.

As soon as we learn something, we need to ask ourselves: "What will I do differently as a result of this information?"

Then put knowledge into action. Even a tiny little action.

Remember the...

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Enjoy the wait

The fourth principle that we will explore from Sonja Lyubomirsky's The Myths of Happiness is this:

Spend money now to enjoy something in the future.

Research confirms that anticipating a pleasant or happy event brings us joy.

We have probably experienced this ourselves, when we book a summer holiday, for example. The planning, the dreaming and the talking about sunny days on the beach and starlit nights bring us much pleasure and enjoyment long before the event actually takes place.

Now before we all go and look for that super once in a lifetime trip, a quick word of caution: the results of happiness research favour "the ordinary over the intense".

In other words, we get more "bang for our buck", so to speak, if we spend our money on many small pleasures rather than a few big ones.

So instead of spending our life savings on that one fantastic trip, we would be better off planning small but regular get-aways or outings with the family. Or even planning a free picnic to the local park...

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Buy yourself time

Sonja Lyubomirsky's third principle to enjoy your wealth so that it brings you happiness is this:

Spend money to give you time.

Time, as they say, is the great equalizer. We all have the same 24 hours regardless of the dollars in our bank accounts.

Research shows, that 'time affluence' – (time to do things that matter to you and bring you joy) is a better predictor of happiness than pure affluence (how much money you have).

Makes sense, right? If we are too busy making money, we don't have time to enjoy it.
So here is an easy way to "buy happiness".

Use money to buy time for yourself. Hire someone to do something that you would normally do yourself.

For those of us who like to do everything ourselves, here is another way to look at it: you will be distributing your blessings and being a source of income for someone else.
(Not to mention having one less thing on your "to-do" list).

(When I shared this with a group of mothers recently, that you could get someone to help you do...

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Buddha and the farmer with the 83 problems

Sharing a story today that captures the concept of AIMing at happiness that we have been talking about this week. . .

A farmer came to see the Buddha for a solution to the problems in his life.

My first problem is my work, he began:
"I like farming, but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and my crops fail. Last year we nearly starved. And sometimes it rains too much, so my yields aren't what I'd like them to be."

The Buddha patiently listened to the man. . .

My next problem is my domestic life, he continued:
"I'm married and she's a good wife… I love her, in fact. But sometimes she nags me too much. And sometimes I get tired of her."

The Buddha listened quietly.
"Also, I have kids," said the man. "Good kids, too… but sometimes they don't show me enough respect. And sometimes…"

The man went on like this, laying out all of his difficulties and worries.

Finally he wound down and waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.

Instead,...

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