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The spitting lizard (DW #925)

A significant distinction that enables conscious action is focusing on process rather than outcome. Keeping our sights on what we can do is empowering whereas focusing on the enormity of the struggle can create feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness.
 
Many causes and projects are so huge that it is extremely difficult to see the benefit of doing anything about it. Protesting terrorism, oppression, injustice, global warming all come to mind as examples.
 
At times like this it may be helpful to remember the legend of the little lizard:

It is said that when Prophet Ibrahim (as) was thrown in the fire by Namrood, there was a little lizard who was watching. The other animals saw that the lizard was filling its mouth with water and spitting at the great fire.

The other animals started making fun of the lizard. "What are you hoping to accomplish?" they asked scornfully. "Look at the fire and look at your...
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Actions and results (DW #924)

Yesterday, we spoke about being the "trimtab" to the ship of change in society.

The point was that if we focus on making small changes, the tide will eventually turn, and the ship will change direction.
 
Here is a reality that we do need to confront though: we never have any control on the outcome of what we work towards. NEVER. We may do our best and the harsh truth is that we may not be able to see results in our lifetime.
 
And thankfully, we are not held accountable for results – only our efforts. Only for the actions we take towards being a force for good and making this a better world for all.
 
And when we are feeling discouraged, let us remind ourselves that even the most beloved servants of God are not held accountable for results. The Holy Prophet (saw) is reminded over and over in the Quran that his job was to simply deliver the message. Getting people to believe and do good was outside his circle of control.
 
And similarly, we are not held...
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Being the trimtab for social change (DW #923)

We are using the metaphor of the trimtab to inspire us to affect personal changes in our lives.
 
However, it is very important to point out that the way Fuller first used it, he meant it as a metaphor for how a single individual can be a force for change in society.
 
In an interview, the interviewer asked him a question about how human beings can live with "a sense of the individual’s impotence to affect events, to improve or even influence our own welfare, let alone that of society," Fuller offered the metaphor of being the trimtab in society:

" . . . the little individual can be a trim tab. . . But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, "Call me Trim Tab."

The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. And you build that low pressure by...

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Call me trim tab (DW #922)

Years ago, I came across a metaphor for change that really stuck – the metaphor of the trimtab of a ship.
 
Before I share the metaphor, let me share the backstory which I only recently discovered while doing some research (got to love Google).
 
The metaphor was coined by Buckminster Fuller, reportedly one of the great minds of the 20th century. Fuller became famous for inventing the geodesic dome and for coining the word "synergy" but before he was famous, he almost killed himself . . .
 
He felt that he had wasted the first part of his life, struggled with addictions, with family conflict and with work. When he was 32, his only daughter died, and he was wrought with guilt and self-blame for not being home when the child passed away.
Severely depressed, he walked into the ocean intending to kill himself.
Before he could act on his thoughts, he had a moment of awakening. It occurred to him that he hadn’t really given his life a chance. He was failing...
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The power of baby steps (DW #921)

Do you have big ideas, plans and aspirations that you struggle to act on?

Me too!
 
During times when there is so much opportunity for inspiration (for example in Ramadan which already seems so far away!) I want to do more, do better, to make changes in myself and in my life and basically transform every part of my life . . . .
 
Until life gets in the way, that is! The best of intentions do not appear to materialize when I try to aim big.
 
I have come to the realization (through research on what works and from personal experience) that only thing that works is to take baby steps in the direction that I want to go towards.
 
So for the next little while, let’s talk about the power of baby steps and how we can make micro progressions towards the kind of life we want.
 
You in?

ps: If you know someone who could use a little inspiration in their lives to make changes, would you please share the sign up link with them? Let us grow the #DailyWisdom family!...

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Use your resources for good (DW# 920)

Verse 77 of Chapter 28, Sura Qassas says: And seek by means of what Allah has given you, the abode of the Hereafter.
 
This verse talks about the advice his companions gave to Qarun, a very wealthy man of his time. Qarun’s advisors are reminding him that he has many resources at his disposal, resources which he could use to do good in this world, and thereby gain Allah’s pleasure, eternal reward and secure his place in the eternal life.  
 
This verse is a good reminder to all of us – each of has been granted abundant and unique gifts, gifts which are a trust from Him to be used in His service. For some of us that may be time, money or talents with which we can be a force for good on this planet. When we use these resources in service of a greater good, we are in a sense making a great investment, an investment which will result in a manifold return.
 
This verse reminds me of a rather sweet story from the life of the Holy Prophet...
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Consider what you are sending ahead (DW# 919)

In Chapter 59 of the Quran, Sura Hashr, Allah says: O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah, and let every soul consider what it has sent on for the morrow [Holy Quran 59:18]
 
Scholars explain that this verse means that everyone should reflect upon their deeds and evaluate how they may fare on the Day of Judgment. According to the Islamic worldview, our brief existence in this lifetime is an important means to gather provisions for our eternal life which begins after we have left this "life".  

This verse advises us to reflect on what we are gathering and "sending ahead" for our eternal life. Which of our actions are going to count as provision for our eternal home?

I recently came across a lovely little book Golden Rules for Everyday Life by Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov which explains this idea beautifully.
 
Although he is not talking about the hereafter, he advises that we can prepare our future by living well today:

"We never...

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Practical ways to counter negative interpretations (DW# 918)

Continuing with our discussion on verse 12 from Sura Hujarat where the Quran cautions the believers: O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins. [Holy Quran 49:12]. Once we begin noticing our negative interpretations, we can become more mindful instead of allowing them to dictate our attitude and behaviour towards others.

Here are some practical ways to deal with negative assumptions which are mentioned in spiritual literature.
  • Practice thinking of more helpful interpretations which would cast the other person in a kinder light. Imam Ali (as) says: do not think evil of a word that has come out of your brother [in faith] while you can find a possibility of good in it.
  • Generally, when we make a mistake, we look to our good intentions to excuse our behaviour.

    For example: I meant to call that person, I meant to be there on time, I meant to keep that promise.

    When dealing with someone else’s behaviour, we sometimes look to...
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Choose your interpretations wisely (DW# 917)

We are exploring verse 12 from Sura Hujarat where the Quran cautions the believers: O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins. [Holy Quran 49:12]

Yesterday we spoke about how the human mind is a meaning-making machine and how most of our assumptions are negative.

Here is the thing, though: since most of our interpretations are based on our own world view, way of thinking and past baggage, they have little to do with the other person.
 
The good news is that we can change this habit of our mind and practice choosing more helpful interpretations.
 
The Quran alludes to this in Sura Nur when it says:  When you [first] heard about it, why did not the faithful, men and women, think well of their folks (Holy Quran 24:12). The verse cautions the believers about believing their own negative thoughts and advises them to think well of others, have positive interpretations and even when they hear something scandalous about others,...
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Avoid suspicions (DW# 916)

Today let us start exploring another verse from Chapter 49, Sura Hujarat which discusses social relationships.
 
In verse 12, the Quran cautions the believers: O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins. [Holy Quran 49:12]
A habit that can poison even a strong relationship is constant suspicion and negative interpretations about the thoughts, intentions, and motivations of the other person.
 
The human mind, as we may have all experienced, is a meaning-making machine. Thoughts pop in and out of our minds at a furious pace (60,000 plus a day according to some experts). And many of those thoughts can be negative.
 
When those thoughts involve other people with whom we are in a relationship with, they can cause havoc in the relationship. They can destroy trust and goodwill in the relationship itself while robbing us of our own peace of mind. And it can be exhausting to keep guessing motivations of another.
 
Spiritual masters...
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