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Focus on one goal at a time(DW #828)

Remember what we said about being a "metaphysical glutton" and trying to change everything at once?

It seems that Benjamin Franklin realized the wisdom of focusing on one thing at a time in his quest to attain moral perfection.

His process was extremely structured and organized.

 Each week, he would focus on one of the thirteen virtues to practice. He would write the virtue on top of his diary page as inspiration and would give himself a passing or failing score every single day.

 Once the thirteen weeks were up, he would repeat the entire process again. In this way, he focused on a particular virtue four times during each year in rotation.

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Recommitment(DW #821)

The process of getting back on track to our path of progress is called Recommitment.

We have been discussing how even with much motivation and inspiration at the beginning, there WILL be times when we fail to live up to our commitments to ourselves or fall short of the standards we set for ourselves.

 
Sad but true.

So then what?

Once we spend a few minutes reminding ourselves that we are human and that self-compassion will get us further than self-criticism, it is time to RECOMMIT.

Again. And again. And again.

Just like the pilot that we discussed, keeps coming back on track after drifting, we remind ourselves of our path and get back on track.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. The destination/goal/target needs to be clear of course

Step 2. Remind yourself about the WHY. Why is this important? Why are you on this journey? What does it mean to you?

When we forget our why, we lose our way.

Step 3.Commit to the process. 100%.

Step 4. Take action. Get in motion. Keep taking baby steps....

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Gratitude shifts your focus from getting to giving (DW#636)

One of the great challenges of the modern mindset is that we are focused on what we believe we ‘deserve’. We are looking out for our own best interests and making sure that we are not taken advantage of. That we get what we think we are ‘owed’.

Now this kind of thinking may work in the stock market, but it doesn’t really work that well in a marriage.

In relationships, being aware of our rights and noticing how the other is falling short in delivering those rights is guaranteed to make us unhappy. Despite this, social media is always reminding us that we need to find someone who will love and appreciate us for who we are. That we ‘deserve’ this love.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it puts someone else in charge of our happiness. Only when they deliver on our expectations can we be at peace.

The mindset of gratitude on the other hand, is relational. It shifts our focus from ourselves to one another. Gratitude invites us to...

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Appeal to reason (DW#610)

The Quran exemplifies the model of appealing to our sense of logic and reasoning. It does this by asking questions for us to ponder over and reflect on.
 
In the following verses, the Quran uses rhetorical questions to help us reflect and come to logical conclusions:

Has man not seen that We created him from a drop, and behold, he is a manifest adversary?
And he has set forth for Us a parable and forgotten his own creation, saying, "Who revives these bones, decayed as they are?" 
Say, "He will revive them Who brought them forth the first time, and He knows every creation [Quran 36:77-79]

These questions are posed to those who rejected the resurrection and final accounting. Their argument was: how can we be recreated if our bones have already turned to dust? The counter-argument presented through rhetorical questions is that the recreation cannot be harder than the original creation. He who created you in the first place, can He not bring you back? 

 
When...
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Control Fallacies (DW#500)

Some experts explain the last two distortions by calling them "control fallacies’. 

A control fallacy manifests as one of two beliefs: 
(1) that we have no control over our lives and are helpless victims of fate, or 
(2) that we are in complete control of ourselves and our surroundings, making us responsible for things which we cannot actually control, such as the feelings and actions of others. 

Of course, both beliefs are inaccurate and damaging. While it is dis-empowering to take no responsibility for things within our control, it is equally damaging to to accept responsibility for more than our share, or things which we have no power to change. 

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Taking action can change your feelings (DW#471)

emotions feelings objective Oct 15, 2018

We have been discussing how feelings come and go, and how we can learn to accept our emotions.

It bears repeating that emotions by themselves do not force us to do anything. Nor do they, by themselves, ever get us into trouble. 

Our choice and responsibility kicks in when we decide how to act, not when we are feeling the feeling. In other words, it is our actions and behaviours that have consequences for ourselves and for others. 

If we only work when we feel like it, it will get us fired from our jobs. If we lash out at our children every time we feel frustrated, the authorities might step in (not to mention that our children will be traumatized). If we act on every sexual temptation that we encounter, we will likely get divorced. If we act out every angry feeling we have, we may end up in jail. Do you get the picture? 

This is why it is so crucial to differentiate behavior from internal feelings and emotional states: we feel how we feel but we need to act in...

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What it means to stand with Hussain (DW#455)

Today's wisdom comes from my daughter Sara who wrote this piece on what it means to stand with Imam Hussain (as) 

As this year's azadari comes to a close, I've been thinking about what values this annual commemoration draws out of me: 

if I am with Hussain (as), I value and honor the significance of histories and herstories of oppression and of standing up against injustice, and I make a conscious effort to remember them in community. I believe in the power of storytelling. I do not dismiss these stories for being "so long ago" or of a different people or from a far away place. 

if I am with Hussain (as), I stand with the systematically oppressed, silenced, disenfranchised, abused, tortured, murdered, and imprisoned

if I am with Hussain (as), I work towards a level of commitment to justice for the aforementioned where I am willing to give up anything and everything - my comfort, my wealth, my ego, and my life - in pursuit of it

if I am with Hussain (as), I am of those...
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How can I help? (DW#433)

One of the best ways we can be supportive to our love ones is to actually ask them how they would like to be supported. 

Whether it is the morning panic to leave the house, a particularly stressful time at work or another life stressor, asking how we can help lighten their load is more effective than guessing how they would prefer to be supported by us. 

So the next time a loved one appears stressed or overburdened, simply ask: How can I help? Just knowing that someone is willing to do what it takes to ease our situation can be hugely de-stressing in itself. 

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You made me do it (DW#423)

objective productivity Jun 27, 2018

As human beings we mess up and make mistakes. Quite often. We sometimes behave badly with those who matter most to us. 

And when we are confronted about our poor behavior or judgment by a loved one, it feels uncomfortable and it is anxiety provoking. It can be tempting to deny our role in making someone upset by denying responsibility, or worse by blaming them for our own behavior. 

For those of us who are parents, our children can sometimes really push our buttons. We may lose it from time to time and get ashamed by our behavior. At this point, we say things like "You made mom/dad mad". "Look what you made me do". We may believe that we are hiding the fact that we fell short of our own values and we feel ashamed. But lets not kid ourselves. Our children can pick up on the fact that we are shirking responsibility. And the lesson they learn from this is NOT the one we want them to learn!

Similarly, in adult relationships which are abusive or severely distressed, there can...

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Continue calling on Him through Dua (DW#419)

4. Dua
One of the most special things about Ramadan are the moments of connection to Him through Dua or supplication. The process of turning to Him and asking from Him enriches us beyond measure and gives us spiritual strength.

Whereas sharia applies to our outward actions and its job is to regulate human action in order to create the basis of social justice, Dua is the training the heart to love the Creator, to experience His love and to understand that the more you love Him, and have a personal relationship with Him, the more you understand that the laws of sharia are to help you reach your full potential.


The Duas that we have been reciting during this month all emphasize the personal quality of Allah's relationship with us and His all-encompassing love. Dua is therefore a vital practice to cultivate spirituality and nurture our connection to Him.

Baby steps:
Look through a compilation of Dua such as the Sahifa Sajjadiya or the Duas of Imam Ali (as). Pick one that calls to you.

Pick a...

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