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Virtuous Cyles

We have all heard of (and likely experienced) vicious cycles: A bad situation or behavior that is the cause of another situation which in turn causes the first, bad situation again.

It is quite easy to get into vicious cycles.

When things start of go wrong they sometimes seem to spiral out of control. Skip one day of your exercise routine, for example, and you are likely to make unhealthy choices for the rest of the day.

Bring home a bad mood and the family reacts and makes the bad mood worse.

But have you heard of virtuous circles?

A virtuous cycle works on the same principle of cause and effect. In a virtuous cycle, things go from good to better.

One of my favorites types of virtuous circles is:
Do good, feel good. Feel good, do good.

When we are feeling good, we are much more likely to 'do good', that is behave in ways which take our day in a positive direction. The more 'good' we do, the better we feel and so the virtuous cycle perpetuates.

A pretty awesome way to live,...

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The first 5 minutes

Ever had "one of those days" when everything seemed to go wrong? For the next few days we will be exploring how NOT to make "one of those days" even worse!

So you have had a hard day and are at the end of your rope. You are cranky and irritable. It is nearly time for you to meet the significant others in your life.

You are itching to "have it out" with them or just to "let it all out".

Or you want to retreat into your cave without so much as a greeting.

Consider this:


The first few minutes of the interaction after you have been away from each other sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

If you can just hold it together for just for a few more minutes and greet your loved ones in a loving way, the effort will be worth your while.

It is much more productive to have a de-stressing conversation about the day's stresses after the family has connected in a positive way.

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Quality over quantity

When we begin to be mindful of our words in speech or text, one of the first things that happens is that the volume of our conversation shrinks. Few things pass the THINK filter and we find ourselves creating and forwarding fewer messages and posts.

We may also notice that when we are careful of what we say, how we say it and pick an appropriate time to say it, our words have a greater impact on those we are communicating with.

And isn't that the point of communicating?

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Is it kind?

The messages that are perhaps the hardest to deal with are the passive-aggressive ones. They are mostly found on social media platforms such as Facebook but also creep into instant messaging from time to time.

Here are some examples: “I know most people won’t care to repost/respond to this”. “I am seeing who cares enough to read until the bottom of this post”. “If you love your brother, hit like and share”. “Please forward to x number of people if you care about this person”.

All the above are examples of the opposite of what I like to call “clean communication”.

It is not effective to use emotional blackmail in relationships and it is not great to use on social media or WhatsApp either.

If we want someone to read a post, to forward it or respond to it, please let us ask them directly. If we do not have the courage to do this directly, there is usually a really good reason for it, such as the post not being worthy of...

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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 Inspiring?

Regular inspiration is great at keeping us motivated and on purpose. When we hear or read something that articulates and resonates with our felt values it helps to realign our actions with what we believe to be true.

Inspiration, however, works best in small doses. To add meaning and value to life, we need to pause, reflect and let the message sink in. When we are receiving and sending several messages at a time, it ends up reducing the value of each message and does not allow for the essential step of absorbing the message, actually letting it inspire us rather than simply clogging up our inbox.

So the next time we are tempted to pass on several inspiring quotes or messages, let us remind ourselves of the power of wisdom in small doses ;)

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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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How do you take feedback?

There is a quote from Imam Hussain (as) which says:

"One who reveals your faults to you like a mirror is your true friend, and one who flatters you and covers up your faults is your enemy."

It is hard to accept feedback isn’t it? But it is the only way we can learn how we show up for other people in the world. A friend who loves us enough to tell us the uncomfortable truth about ourselves is precious. In the absence of feedback, we can spend a long time (sometimes a VERY long time!) doing what is not serving us and being unaware of it.

The next time someone offers you the gift of correction, accept it with gratitude.

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