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What are you concerned about?

One of the books that changed my life is Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Over the next few days, we will explore a tiny bit of the wisdom from this wonderful book (named one the most influential books of the 20th century).

Covey uses concept of the Circle of Concern versus the Circle of Influence to explain how we can take responsibility for our own lives.

The best way to understand these concepts is to actually do the exercise. It only takes a few minutes initially but has HUGE payoffs as you deepen your initial understanding.

To begin, take a piece of paper and draw a large circle on it. Please label this "My Circle of Concern". In this circle write down everything that you are concerned or bothered about in your life. Go on. Don't hold back and don't overthink it. The more you write, the more things are likely to come to mind.

The circle of concern is a VERY large one for me. It contains everything from climate change to the state of the Muslim Umma to the...

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The Difference between intentions and goals

A question that often comes up with setting intentions is this: What is the difference between goals and intentions?

Although goals can sometimes be confused with intentions, they are in fact quite different.

A goal is a desired outcome in the future. A goal is something that you set by thinking about a specific outcome that you want. For example, my goal could be to get a certain job, to achieve a milestone in health or to commit to a long term relationship.

An intention is about how we commit to showing up in our life everyday, regardless of what is happening around us. It is the guiding principle or value that we act from, and it is very much based in the present moment.

For example, an intention related to relationship might be "I intend to relate with honesty". This would be a guiding principle in my relationship regardless of whether or not my ultimate goal of being in a committed relationship is met or not.

Having a clear intention means that whenever I stray away from...

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Are you going with the flow?

It is so easy to 'go with the flow'. It is easy to let life happen to us, to experience life as it is happening around us, reacting to each day as it unfolds.

It is so easy, in fact, that we often do not realize that we are doing it. Things are happening around us, asking us to react to the urgent. When we are not reacting to the urgent, whether it is at work or with family, we are tempted to 'numb out', 'veg out' or 'chillax' with the steady stream of mindless entertainment which is SO readily and freely available.

The cost of living like this, of 'going with the flow' can be huge. If we do not stop to ask ourselves if this the life we want, if we are satisfied with the way we are spending our days on this planet, there is a good chance that we will end up dissatisfied, and feeling empty and meaningless.

As Rabbi Harold Kushner puts it, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry...

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Is it necessary?

When we are inundated with so many messages, specially in group chats and on social media, we have to learn to ignore what is not helpful.

There are times however, when it is wise to respond to messages that are not true or helpful.

If we receive something even as part of a group that makes no sense or is obviously false, it is tempting to avoid a response thinking that it does not concern us.

But here is the thing: each time we are receiving or hearing a message that is not true, there is a good chance that our silence will be deemed approval.

This is a time to speak up if you know something to be untrue or not credible.

If it is a group chat situation, it is best to message the person privately and request that they correct the information. This gives them a chance to save face rather than face the possible embarrassment of being called out in the group.

When we hold ourselves and our friends to a high standard of communication with truth and integrity, we can improve the cyber...

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Is it helpful?

Even if the messages past the first test of veracity, we must pause a moment to ask if it is helpful?

It is good to remind ourselves that if we don't have anything to say, it is perfectly acceptable to be silent. If we cannot add anything to the conversation, let us practice noticing our desire to fill up what feels like an uncomfortable silence. We can notice this feeling of the need to engage and not act upon it.

Our words are so much powerful when they are spoken intentionally and not just to fill the silence. The same is true for our messages.

Questions to ask to determine whether it is helpful:

  • Does it add to someone knowledge?
  • Does it inspire them in some way?
  • Will it bring a smile to their face?
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Is it true?

It would seem to be an obvious statement that in order to live our best selves, we must speak the truth.

Yet, with the advent of WhatsApp, how many of us take a moment to check the veracity of something we are forwarding?

Anything that comes from our mouth, our email or our desk is part of the conversation that we contribute to this world.

Moreover, whatever conversation emanates from our mouths, our computers and our devices has the potential to build our credibility or to damage it.

This is why it is so important to take a moment to verify whatever message you are about to spread.

The ease of pressing the send button makes it imperative that we are intentional about taking a moment before hitting send.

Let us not a be part of the vicious cycle that continues to spread false information. Let us pause for a second, do a quick verification before hitting send.

It is not that difficult. Here are a few questions to help:

  • Does it make sense? Does it even sound like it might be true?
  • If...
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Practice mindful messaging

Don't you just love instant messaging like WhatsApp? It has revolutionized the way we communicate. It is easy, oh so convenient and so easy to pass messages back and forth.

What many of us are experiencing though, is that the speed and easy of instant messaging may not always be such a good thing.

The fact that it is so quick and so easy makes it particularly challenging to communicate consciously.

Instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp are in fact, the perfect medium to communicate without care or thought, encouraging us to hit send or forward before our thinking mind has had a chance to use any filter at all.

Have you ever regretted pressing the send or forward without taking a moment to consider your response? I know I have!

Given that so many of us engage in this method of communication, mostly without reflection, it may be a good idea to consider using WhatsApp mindfully.

The first step is to become aware of your relationship with instant messaging, both as a receiver and...

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Ready Fire Aim

No that's not a typo. We have all heard the recommendation to get ready, aim and then fire. Metaphorically this relates to any plan of action that we may have.

If you're anything like me however, you spend so much time getting ready and aiming that by the time you fire, the target has moved! The actions are too late and irrelevant at this point. In today's fast moving society, this is truer than ever.

On the other hand, when you get in the habit of firing by taking action, you will get feedback and can keep improving your aim until you hit the target eventually.

Life, as they say, rewards action. Let us not wait until we 'have it all figured out'. Let us start taking action and learn from our mistakes. We can only fine tune once we have begun.

Ready, Fire, Aim!

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What DO you want?

Easy question right?

For many of us, it is a less than easy question to answer. It is so much easier to talk about what we don't want.

Our brain is geared towards avoiding pain and so it is easy for us to recognize what we want to move away from and what we don't like.

Getting clear on what we DO want is not automatic. It takes intentionality and reflection.

It is worth the effort though because we are much more likely to get want we want in life (and in relationships) if we are clear on what we want.

Begin noticing how many times you talk about what you don't want . . .

Here are some things I noticed just this week:

I don't want to be overweight
I don't want to go to the dentist
I don't want to take flights that land in the night
I don't like action movies
I don't like loud spaces

What do I like and want?

I would like to be an ideal weight
I would like to have a perfect set of teeth
I prefer daytime flying
I like movies which are calming to the nervous system
I prefer quiet spaces

...
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Getting confident

All of us feel more confident in some areas of our life than in others. For areas that we are less than confident in, we tend to tell ourselves that once we feel confident, we will take action in this area.

But here's the thing: confidence only comes from taking action.

It is practice which gives us the confidence. Confidence without doing the necessary practice is actually foolhardiness not confidence!

Think of when you started to drive. (or cook, or work . . .)

Remember how you were nervous even after you passed your road test? You started taking the car around the corner and then down the street. Slowly with practice you felt comfortable going further and you finally made it on the highway. If you had waited to have full confidence before you drove, you would have never taken the car out of the garage.

You decided to push through the feeling of nervousness and fear and take action despite those feelings.

Now that you are a confident driver, it may be hard to even remember those...

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