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Repeat the stories of bravery

Have you seen how the Holocaust is kept alive? Our Jewish brothers have done a remarkable job in keeping the memories of the injustice alive as well as the stories of heroism and bravery.

This is extremely valuable because if people let the memory of injustice fade, it is easier for tyrants to carry it out again. Recollections of bravery and resisting oppression play a very important role in bringing communities together in their shared history and encourage those that have not lived through the oppression to take a stand and not let history repeat itself.

Resilient communities learn from their history. They never forget.

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Day of Ashura

Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate sacrifice for social justice in the face of corruption and tyranny. He gave everything he had, including his life, for the stand for social justice and against oppression. The events of Ashura continue to inspire millions of Muslims all over the world even today.

To learn about Hussain and the history of Ashura, please visit https://whoishussain.org

And here is an inspiring talk about how Hussain (as) stands as an inspiration for ALL Muslims

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The bully, the bullied and the bystander

family parenting Oct 10, 2016

This phrase is used often in anti-bullying seminars to explain to parents and children that witnessing an act of aggression or violence and standing by, ‘doing nothing’ is not, in fact passive. Onlookers or bystanders are found way beyond the playground. Bystanders are those people who slow down to look at a traffic accident, but don’t stop to offer assistance, the people who watch an argument on the street, and the crowd that gathers to watch a playground fight. They are the audience that engages in the spectacle, and watches as a drama unfolds, standing on the sidelines and perhaps passing commentary. They might even say things like, “tsk, tsk. What bad behavior” and nod their heads in judgment and disgust without actually doing anything to stop the situation.

Witnesses to bullying and other acts of aggression, violence or oppression who stand by and and do not take a stand actually contribute significantly to what takes place. ‘Doing...

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Find A Hero

Whether it is politicians, gun toting maniacs killing children randomly, power hungry egomaniacs defrauding people of their life savings, or terrorists killing innocents, wreaking havoc and destruction, it is hard to escape the feeling that the standard for ‘human’ behavior is sinking lower by the day. It is very difficult not to feel despair at the lack of basic morality, compassion, integrity, empathy and justice that appears to be so prevalent in the world today.

It is easy to focus on the villains – they are all over the news and the media.

What needs much more intentionality is to look for the heroes. Those who are silently lighting candles rather than blaming the darkness (or looting in the dark) are easy to miss. They seldom make headline news.

And yet it is the heroes that we need more than ever today. Heroes that live their values with integrity, stand for justice and are a force for good on this planet. Heroes that renew our faith in humanity and stand as...

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Trying to get rid of negative feelings?

positive thinking Oct 06, 2016

Are you desperately trying to get rid of negative feelings so that you can be happy?

Good luck with that!

According to research on happiness by Russ Harris (The Happiness Trap) it is unrealistic to expect that we can get rid of all negative feelings.

In fact, emotional wellbeing entails experiencing and embracing a full range of human emotions, sadness, grief, happiness and joy.

We cannot selectively turn off certain emotions. When we try to suppress negative emotions, we end up putting a blanket on all emotions. We cannot really feel joy if we do not allow ourselves to experience sadness.

A more useful approach to emotions is to recognize and label the emotion we are feeling and to acknowledge it, knowing that all emotions are transitory.

Happiness and sadness come and go. Let us practice noticing and labeling the emotion we are experiencing.

A simple but very powerful exercise.

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What’s the worst that can happen

When we are starting something new, it is natural to feel apprehensive about the outcome and to fear failure. The mind will likely come up with a lot of 'what ifs' followed by a picture of catastrophic failure.

At times when your mind starts to go down the spiral of what dismal failure looks like, it is good to do a reality check and ask yourself: "what's the worst that can happen"?

Very rarely will the answer be one of life or death (unless you are a neurosurgeon or an astronaut, in which case please take your apprehensions seriously).

For the majority of us, the worst case scenario is no worse than the present situation. Except maybe for a slightly bruised ego. And a loss of time, effort and maybe some money.

While the mind is ready to go to the worst case scenario, we need to gently nudge it in another direction by asking a follow up question: "What is the best that can happen?"

Mostly, you will find the risk involved in taking action is worth the potential payoff.

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Judging others and ourselves

What happens when someone falls short of your expectations? Do you judge them by their failure to act in accordance with your expectations? If a close friend forgets a birthday, for example, do you judge them for their failure to remember?

Now when you fail to do something, do you judge yourself by your good intentions? For example, I always intend to wish friends on their birthdays but often lose track of the day until it has passed. I often console myself by reminding myself that I did intend to call but somehow didn't.

How about assuming that everyone has at least as good intentions as we do?

We are likely to be so much more forgiving of small and big lapses if we practice this regularly.

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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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The Miracle of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

In these days of instant feedback and results, it is challenging to remember that some things take time.

Such as farming, gardening, building relationships and parenting.

It can be disheartening when we feel we are working hard but not seeing immediate results.

On days that we feel that are efforts are not bearing fruit, it may be helpful to remind ourselves about the Miracle of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, a lovely parable about the power of faith, patience and perseverance.

The Chinese Bamboo Tree tests the patience of those who plant it. After planting it and nurturing it with water, soil and sunshine, the farmer sees no visible signs of growth at all.

Not for the whole of the first year.

Or the second . . . or third . . . or fourth.

By this time, the farmer begins to feel as if he is doing something wrong or that is there is something faulty with the seed itself. There is self doubt and loss of faith beginning to creep up.

Faced with barren land and no sign of reward for his...

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Hope is not a strategy

Hope by itself is not a strategy. Merely hoping or imagining a great outcome will not make it happen nor will it make your dreams or goals come true.

Hope, however, IS a very important part of making dreams and goals become reality.

In fact, we could say that it is an essential first step in changing what we are not satisfied with. Only with a hope for a better future are we motivated to take action.

Hope then, is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for change and transformation.

It must be combined with action for dreams to become reality.

Think of an area in your life where you are dissatisfied. What are your best hopes? What would be a great outcome?

What is one tiny step YOU can take towards making that hope into a reality?

ONE. TINY. STEP.

That is all you need to start.

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