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Speaking of congratulations . . .(DW #815)

How often do we stop, reflect on how far we have come, acknowledge progress and celebrate small and big wins?
Turns out, this is rather important for motivation and change.
So today, take a few moments to congratulate yourself for any progress that you have made till today in the different areas of your life.

For those of us who are super self-critical, this will be challenging and feel weird.

That is okay. Do it anyway.

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The Kaizen way to change(DW #814)

Continuing our conversation on being patient with the process of progress and growth, let us explore the Japanese concept of Kaizen
The word Kaizen translates as ‘continual improvement.’ It is improvement of the very small kind. Small tweaks and what we would call baby steps.

The philosophy of kaizen suggests that great and lasting success is achieved not through huge leaps, but rather by taking small and consistent steps.

These are changes so tiny and steps so small that they dissolve and overcome the mind’s resistance to change.

So think about it. What needs to change in your life? What is the first tiny TINY step that you can take to get on the path of progress?
Can you do one push up? Five jumping jacks? Walk 50 steps more than you normally do?

Sleep 10 minutes earlier?

Get up 10 minutes earlier?

Eat one salad leaf?

Do five minutes of meditation?

If so, please do this today. And once you do, you are officially on the path of progress.

Congratulations. ...

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Always do your best(DW #813)

Do you have good days and bad days? Days when it is easy to live up to your ideal self and other days it is a struggle?
Yes? Me too.

This is normal.

If we remove the idea of perfection from the equation, we will become more comfortable with the idea that doing our best will change from day to day.

There will be days when we have slept well, had a good morning and are easily able to be our best selves. Being patient with our families and able to focus on work and be productive.
And other days, not so much.

We may be tired, hungry, "hangry", have "woken up from the wrong side of the bed", are overwhelmed with work or family dramas. Our best on days like this will not be as stellar as an easy day.
We can still do our best, taking into account everything that is going on in our lives.

This kind of thinking is so freeing. Please try it for yourself.
If you are struggling during the pandemic to be as patient or productive as you would like to be, it will be a great time to practice...

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Being patient with the process(DW #812)

Once we shine the light of awareness on ourselves and confront what needs work, it is so tempting to want to fix things overnight. We may think, ok I got it. I need to work on my anger, my reactivity, my consistency, my emotional regulation, my tendency towards distraction  . . . .etc. etc. etc. Now that I have recognized it and made an intention, it should be fixed right?
 
Nope. Sorry to tell you that it does not work that way.
 
Given that we have lived many years (or decades) with this kind of thinking or behaviour, it is unreasonable to expect that it will be easy to change. (Sometimes it is, but that is generally the exception and not the rule).
 
We need to remind ourselves that we need to go slow, progress step by step and above all, be patient with ourselves.

Why, you ask? What does patience have to do with this? Should I not be motivating myself with being strict with myself?
 
Here’s the thing: if you get lost in self-criticism and...
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The discomfort of self-awareness(DW #811)

Self-awareness, as we have mentioned before, is the first step on the journey of self-growth. We cannot really deal with something we are not even aware of.

Here is how Don Miguel Ruiz puts it in The Four Agreements: "The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free. We need to be aware of what the problem is in order to solve the problem."

Self-awareness, however, is not a comfortable feeling, ESPECIALLY before we have had a chance to address and change what we have become aware of.

 
When we first become aware of our shortcomings, we can begin to feel despondent and hopeless. We may feel impatient with ourselves and wonder why we have still so much work to do on ourselves.
 
At times like this, we need to remind ourselves to

"Encourage yourself by remembering that any detection of negativity within you is a positive act, not a negative one.Awareness of your weakness and confusion makes...
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Learning to love the journey(DW #810)

Self-growth, as we have been saying, is a journey rather than a destination. This means that we will never actually reach our highest potential.
 
It makes sense then, to start enjoying the journey rather than focus only on the destination.
 
The journey, of course, is not always comfortable.
 
In fact, our highest or infinite potential exists right OUTSIDE of our comfort zone - in the middle of our DISCOMFORT ZONE. Rather inconvenient!!
 
However, once we have made peace with this fact, we can stop wasting precious energy in wanting to get rid of the discomfort. And get comfortable in the discomfort zone.
 
The good news, though, is that we are programmed to only feel a deep, true sense of happiness, meaning and flourishing when we are striving on the journey and in the discomfort zone.  
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The journey and the destination(DW #809)

Today let us further emphasise the point that self-growth is a journey rather than a destination. It is a journey that ends at the same time as our time on this planet.
 
Some of us may be thinking: "But, that’s such a very long time. Surely, I will get to a stage where I have figured it out and will not have to keep trying so hard."
 
As our children would say: LOLZ (translation: its funny that you think that because no that will not happen)

 

We will (inshallah) have many enlightened moments, times when we are proud of the way we behaved in a particular situation and are pleased with how far we have come.
And we will also have times when we think that we have not progressed at all.
 
In other words, there will never be a time when we don’t have to do the work, to keep practicing our virtues and living our values. And keep coming back to them when we veer off track.

 

If we are serious about living our best selves and actualizing our...
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The pursuit and the practice(DW #808)

The quest and the pursuit of living our full potential can easily be misunderstood as chasing an ideal, chasing perfection, as trying to reach a distant shore.

 

There is a big problem with this: perfection is not a possibility for human beings. Perfection only belongs to the Creator, not to creation. No matter how hard we try, we will N.E.V.E.R achieve perfection. No matter how enlightened or self aware we become, we will have bad days. There will be days when we will "burn our bagels", say things we regret and not do things that we know are good for us.
 
If we set our sights on the distant shores of perfection, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If we consider self development as a project, we will not get there.
 
What is achievable by human beings, is the practice of excellence, of living with virtue right now, of doing our best IN THIS MOMENT.

 

This is all that is possible, all that we have, and that is enough.
 
So think...
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Our purpose on this planet(DW #807)

After the "The Big Three in Greek Philosophy", Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Stoicism became one of the most influential philosophies of the Roman world and has continued to influence many of history’s greatest minds.
 
The Stoic philosophers (so called because Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school used to teach under a column or "stoa" around 300 BC) believed that the central work of human beings was to live up to their true selves.
 
Here’s how Seneca, one of the main Stoics, puts it:
"Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born. And what is it that reason demands of him? Something very easy—that he live in accordance with his own nature."
 
Marcus Aurelius, another Stoic Philosopher (and Roman Emperor a hundred years after Nero), said something very similar in his classic Meditations"Everything - a horse, a vine - is created for some duty... For what task, then, were you yourself...
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Ancient roots of the concept of excellence and...(DW# 806)

The quest to live up to human potential has been an aspiration of human beings since time immemorial. Philosophical and spiritual traditions have emphasized the pursuit of living up to our full potential as the central work of human beings.
 
The Ancient Greeks for example, aspired to live with Arete, meaning excellence in all things. The term Arete also meant "moral virtue". This notion of excellence was also tied to the notion of fulfillment of purposeor function: in other words, living with Aretesignified the act of living up to one's full potential. To live with Aretemeant to strive to achieve your highest human potential: to be the best soldier, scholar, politician or craftsman that you could possibly be.
 

It is interesting that for the Ancient Greeks, as well as for most other cultures (up to the modern age, that is) the pursuit of excellence was always tied to virtue and morality. Achievement and success were closely linked to good...

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