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On acquiring wisdom

We will explore the wisdom of Imam Ali (as) in this series of Daily Wisdom.

This is how Reza Shah-Kazemi introduces Imam Ali in his fantastic book Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali:

"To speak of Ali – cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, fourth caliph of Islam and the first in line of Shi'i Imams - is to speak about the quintessential spirituality of the Islamic tradition. For in this seminal figure of nascent Islam, one finds an integral expression of the two fundamental sources of Islamic spirituality, the Quranic revelation and the inspired Sunna of the Prophet. By his Sunna, we do not mean simply the outward imitation of the Prophet's – a reductionism all too prevalent in our times – rather, we mean the spiritual substance of the prophetic perfection to which the Quran itself refers: "Verily, thou art of a tremendous nature (68:4)"

The Prophet Mohammad (saw) had advised his followers:
I am the city of knowledge and Ali...

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Problems as Opportunities (Quotes to live by)

When we face challenges in our lives, it can really throw us off track and destabilize us. Once we start getting some perspective, we can learn and grow from the challenges and use the challenges as catalysts to propel us onto a path of learning, healing and growth.

Here is how Louise Hay thinks about it:

If we can use our problems and illnesses as opportunities to think about how we can change our lives, we have power.

When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.

Louise Hay is the one who popularized positive affirmations as tools for transformation and growth. Used wisely, affirmations can be helpful in changing thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve us. Here are two powerful affirmations from Louise:

When we want to change a condition, we need to say so. "I am willing to release the pattern within me that is creating this condition." You can say this to yourself over and over every time you think of your illness or problem. The...

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Louise Hay on Self Love (Quotes to live by)

How much of your self talk is about criticizing yourself and giving yourself a hard time?

Women in particular have been somehow conditioned to be way more mean to ourselves than we are to anyone else, don't you think?

This is what Louise Hay has to say about it:

Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

(New research on willpower actually confirms this – that self-criticism depletes the will to change while self-compassion encourages change and helps us live up to the best versions of ourselves – who would have thought!!)

She also said:

Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.

The more we love...

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Wisdom from Louise Hay (Quotes to live by)

Those of you who know Louise Hay's work, may have heard that she passed away peacefully last week at the age of 90.

Louise Hay was one of the founders of the self help movement and her book, Heal Your Body, was first published in 1976, long before it was fashionable to discuss the connection between the mind and body. After the publication of You Can Heal Your Life in 1984 (which has more than 50 million copies in print worldwide), Louise started to inspire and uplift millions with her words of wisdom, now contained in over 30 books for adults and children.

You can read much more about her work and legacy here.

Although criticized by some for her "woo-woo" new age messaging and lack of scientific backing for her work, there is no doubt that Louise's words have supported millions of people through life's challenges. Even if we don't entirely buy into Louise's messaging (and I do have my reservations!), there is so much we can learn from her about helpful versus unhelpful thinking.

...

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Live fully (Quotes to live by)

Today's quote is a lovely poem from Khalil Gibran

Don't live a half life

Do not love half lovers
Do not entertain half friends
Do not indulge in works of the half talented
Do not live half a life and do not die a half death

If you choose silence, then be silent
When you speak, do so until you are finished
Do not silence yourself to say something
And do not speak to be silent
If you accept, then express it bluntly
Do not mask it
If you refuse then be clear about it
for an ambiguous refusal
is but a weak acceptance

Do not accept half a solution
Do not believe half truths
Do not dream half a dream
Do not fantasize about half hopes

Half a drink will not quench your thirst
Half a meal will not satiate your hunger
Half the way will get you no where
Half an idea will bear you no results

Half a life is a life you didn't live,
A word you have not said
A smile you postponed
A love you have not had
A friendship you did not know
To reach and not arrive
Work and not work
Attend only to be absent
What makes you a...

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On generosity (Quotes to live by)

Continuing with our exploration of the wisdom from Maya Angelou, today's quotes are about the value in being a giver.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
Maya Angelou

Are we giving more than we are taking from life or do we have catcher's mitts on both our hands?

She recognized that it is more blessed to give than to receive

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. Maya Angelou

Along the same lines, here is the link to a podcast on the benefits of generosity from the #EssentialVirtues series.

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On empathy and kindness (Quotes to live by)

Maya Angelou lived a challenging life. What is so inspiring about her work and words is that she did not lose hope and she believed in the inherent goodness of people (despite how many of them had treated her).

She believed that no matter how we have been treated, we can choose not to pass on the pain to others:

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. Maya Angelou

Her words encourage kindness, love and connection. Here are my some of my favourites:

At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.
Maya Angelou

If you have only one smile in you, give it...

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On moving forward (Quotes to live by)

When we are going through challenges, it is easy to get stuck in the past.

Here is what Maya says about moving forward:

If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.
Maya Angelou

We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate - thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.

Maya Angelou

Given that Maya was a civil rights activist, her words did not mean that we do not learn from the past, take the easy way out and/or not hold ourselves and others accountable for ours and their actions.

She said:
I not only have the right to stand up for myself, but I have the responsibility. I can't ask somebody else to stand up for me if I won't stand up for myself. And once you stand up for yourself, you'd be surprised that people say, "Can I be of...

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On courage (Quotes to live by)

Yesterday we talked about living with integrity. To live with integrity, we need courage, which is today's quote from Maya Angelou.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

Courage, let us remind ourselves is not the absence of fear.

As Nelson Mandela said
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Courage is also to keep doing the work you were meant to do, despite fear the fear you feel:

Finding the courage to write does not involve erasing or 'conquering' one's fears. Working writers aren't those who have eliminated their anxiety. They are the ones who keep scribbling while their heart races and their stomach churns.
Ralph Keyes

What areas of your life are you letting your fear get the best of you?

Here is...

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On doing the right thing (Quotes to live by)

We are exploring wisdom from Maya Angelou this week.

Today's quote is about doing the right thing.

Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can't give you. So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It's yours. This is your life. This is your world.
Maya Angelou

She also said:
We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yay, or nay – and rise!

Activists such as MLK have said similar words:

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Doing though difficult, is the...

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