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The compound effect of change(DW #816)

Even those of us who are minimally financially savvy, may have heard about compounding savings or the magic of the doubling penny.

Here is how it is often explained:

You have two choices:


1. You receive $2.5m in cash today.

Or…

 

2. You get a penny and then you will get double of the previous sum every day for a month.

 

What should you choose? The $2.5m today or the doubling penny?

 

Well, if this choice presented itself in February, you would be better off with the $2.5m. After 28 days, your doubling penny is worth "only" $1.3m.

 

But for ALL OTHER MONTHS, you would be better off choosing the penny today.

 

Here is the math:

 

That one penny goes from 1 cent  to 2 cents to 4 cents to 8 to 16 to 32 to 64 to over a dollar in 8 days … (slow progress, right?)

 

And then it starts to take off. As it keeps doubling over the month, it becomes $1.34m after 28 days and then it leaps from $1.34m to $2.7m on Day 29. Then from $2.7m to...
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The journey and the destination(DW #809)

Today let us further emphasise the point that self-growth is a journey rather than a destination. It is a journey that ends at the same time as our time on this planet.
 
Some of us may be thinking: "But, that’s such a very long time. Surely, I will get to a stage where I have figured it out and will not have to keep trying so hard."
 
As our children would say: LOLZ (translation: its funny that you think that because no that will not happen)

 

We will (inshallah) have many enlightened moments, times when we are proud of the way we behaved in a particular situation and are pleased with how far we have come.
And we will also have times when we think that we have not progressed at all.
 
In other words, there will never be a time when we don’t have to do the work, to keep practicing our virtues and living our values. And keep coming back to them when we veer off track.

 

If we are serious about living our best selves and actualizing our...
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The pursuit and the practice(DW #808)

The quest and the pursuit of living our full potential can easily be misunderstood as chasing an ideal, chasing perfection, as trying to reach a distant shore.

 

There is a big problem with this: perfection is not a possibility for human beings. Perfection only belongs to the Creator, not to creation. No matter how hard we try, we will N.E.V.E.R achieve perfection. No matter how enlightened or self aware we become, we will have bad days. There will be days when we will "burn our bagels", say things we regret and not do things that we know are good for us.
 
If we set our sights on the distant shores of perfection, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If we consider self development as a project, we will not get there.
 
What is achievable by human beings, is the practice of excellence, of living with virtue right now, of doing our best IN THIS MOMENT.

 

This is all that is possible, all that we have, and that is enough.
 
So think...
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Ancient roots of the concept of excellence and...(DW# 806)

The quest to live up to human potential has been an aspiration of human beings since time immemorial. Philosophical and spiritual traditions have emphasized the pursuit of living up to our full potential as the central work of human beings.
 
The Ancient Greeks for example, aspired to live with Arete, meaning excellence in all things. The term Arete also meant "moral virtue". This notion of excellence was also tied to the notion of fulfillment of purposeor function: in other words, living with Aretesignified the act of living up to one's full potential. To live with Aretemeant to strive to achieve your highest human potential: to be the best soldier, scholar, politician or craftsman that you could possibly be.
 

It is interesting that for the Ancient Greeks, as well as for most other cultures (up to the modern age, that is) the pursuit of excellence was always tied to virtue and morality. Achievement and success were closely linked to good...

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Human potential(DW#804)

The one who acts with Ihsan is called a muhsin (the one who does excellent things, beautiful things, acts with excellence, virtue and grace).
 
In the Quran, we are told that He, God is the first Muhsin, that He is Ahsanul Khaliqeen, the best of creators, and that He is the one

 

Who made good everything that He has created  [Holy Quran 32:7]

 

So God’s doing the beautiful began with creation itself, the crowing glory of creation is the human being, made in God’s most beautiful form.

 

In Sura Teen [The Fig], the Quran says:

 

Truly We created man in the most beautiful stature[Holy Quran 95:4]
 
Scholars remind us that this verse is one of the most emphatic affirmations of humanity’s exalted status, before which the angels were ordered to bow down. God declares in 38: 72:

 

I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit.
 
Here man is taken to mean all of humanity, male and female, believer and...
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Recognize and act within your circle of control (DW#727 )

One of the most important things we can do to cultivate resilience is to recognize our sense of agency.
 
Agency is simply a fancy word for how empowered you feel or how much control or power you feel over your own life. This is where your energy and strength come from.
 
The truth is that there are many many things outside our control. There always have been and always will be. The present world situation has simply brought these into sharp focus.

And the truth is also that some things always were and still remain with our control. (Can you see that?)
 
Now, when we focus our attention to things that are outside our control, we give up our sense of agency. We feel powerless and therefore hopeless.
 
The way out of this feeling of helplessness and the panic that ensues is to become more mindful of where we are focusing our attention.
 
Is it focused on things that are outside our control or those that we have control or power over?
 
When going...
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Simple tools for growing resilience (DW#726)

We will begin a series titled Simple Tools for Growing Resilience and I hope that these simple reminders and practices will inspire us and motivate us to keep going, focus on what we can control, rise up to the challenges and keep doing our best.
 
Let us first define what we mean by resilience:
 
Resilience is the ability to face adversity, to go through challenges without being overwhelmed by them. It is defined as the the capacity to manage challenge and to recover from adversity.

Simply put, it is the ability to face adversity and to "bounce back" after we have been knocked down by life.
 
In other words, resilience helps us:

1)    Face challenges without being overwhelmed by them AND
2)    If we are overwhelmed or ‘knocked down’, it helps us get back on our feet quickly.

 

Resilience, then, helps us survive the worst day of our life AND it also helps us thrive every day of our life.
 
...
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