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3 Strategies to Boost Happiness and Results at Work

Decades of research confirm what your gut already knew: happier people do better work. They’re more creative, proactive, collaborative, energized, and personally invested in what they do. Qualities like these lead to the increased levels of productivity and success associated with workplace happiness. As it’s often said, “Happiness is the precursor to success – not the result.”

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When people are unhappy, the additional mental burden or “cognitive load” increases the effort required to process information or focus on tasks. What’s more, unhappiness shifts brain patterns and chemicals, often interfering with cognitive abilities. Reduce cognitive load, along with the mental burden of unhappiness, and you free the brain to work on more of what matters.

Most of us spend more hours at work than we do anywhere else (at least 8-9 hours a day). Increasingly, we build our days and even our lives around our work. Our happiness at work affects everything else in our lives, and that, in turn, affects what happens when we come back to work.

These are three foundations for you to build more happiness on your team.

(1) Relationships

Numerous studies of happiness — led by Harvard’s 80-year study tracking physical and emotional well-being — consistently name “real connection” and a sense of belonging as keys to a satisfying life. We humans deeply value being known and understood, being respected, and feeling that we’re part of something bigger.

When we feel connected we tend to seek more collective (rather than individual) wins. We step out of our comfort zone, opening ourselves to new ideas, growth, and confidence. Deeper commitments, trust, and positive accountability rise as shared values.

‘Lead by example’

How to make healthy relationships a foundation of your company’s “way?” There’s no one answer — but whatever approach you take, it begins with you. Modeling integrity, accountability, and candor are time-honored ways to begin. Staying transparent, avoiding hyperbole, and being willing to admit mistakes sets the tone others will use to build trust. Trust builds confidence and connection in relationships, and that increases happiness. Want to create change? Choose a trait you want your team to model and start practicing it yourself.

(2) Contribution

We all want to make a difference: to feel that something unique inside of us makes a positive difference in the outside world. When you help your team see how individual talent and personal care affect the quality of their work, you ignite the spark of contribution and invite them to bring more of themselves to work.

To activate contribution, acknowledge processes as well as results. What employees do certainly matters. How they do it — their process — is every bit as important. Telling an employee how much you admired her diligence, pointing out how a cool-headed approach to a challenge solved a potential problem, or acknowledging the resourcefulness of an ambitious new employee: positive encouragement sends a signal to “do more of that.” When you help people know you value their unique qualities, they respond with engagement and more tolerance for risks and setbacks.

They might naturally begin to have more fun at work — not the shiny object Nerf Blaster type of fun but that freeing, confident sense of being in the zone that primes us to get our best work done, and find more satisfaction doing it.

(3) Growth

Lifelong learning and personal growth are core to our happiness. Think of how you feel when you’re motivated to learn, stretch your comfort zone, and master new skills. You can almost feel the inspiration. How are you bringing that feeling to your team?

Consider how your people want to grow. Don’t know? Change that. Knowing how they define success positions you to help them create it. It gives you a powerful tool to use in setting goals, taking risks, and sharing feedback. When you help them see how to succeed on their terms — not only on yours — you become one of those leaders who activates potential and commitment.

Relationships, contribution, and growth: such simple things, yet so fundamental to what makes us tick as humans — and the better versions of ourselves we all want to be. Design your leadership around these themes. Talk about them openly. Help people understand their importance to effective teamwork and real business results.

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The habits of happiness

The habits of happiness by MATTHIEU RICARD

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricardo says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

So, I guess it is a result of globalization that you can find Coca-Cola tins on top of Everest and a Buddhist monk in Monterey.

And so I just came, two days ago, from the Himalayas to your kind invitation. So I would like to invite you, also, for a while, to the Himalayas themselves. And to show the place where meditators, like me, who began with being a molecular biologist in Pasteur Institute, and found their way to the mountains.

So these are a few images I was lucky to take and be there. There’s Mount Kailash in Eastern Tibet — wonderful setting. This is from Marlboro country.

This is a turquoise lake. A meditator. This is the hottest day of the year somewhere in Eastern Tibet, on August 1. And the night before, we camped, and my Tibetan friends said, “We are going to sleep outside.” And I said, “Why? We have enough space in the tent.” They said, “Yes, but it’s summertime.”

So now, we are going to speak of happiness. As a Frenchman, I must say that there are a lot of French intellectuals that think happiness is not at all interesting.

I just wrote an essay on happiness, and there was a controversy. And someone wrote an article saying, “Don’t impose on us the dirty work of happiness.”

“We don’t care about being happy. We need to live with passion. We like the ups and downs of life. We like our suffering because it’s so good when it ceases for a while.”

This is what I see from the balcony of my hermitage in the Himalayas. It’s about two meters by three, and you are all welcome any time.

Now, let’s come to happiness or well-being. And first of all, you know, despite what the French intellectuals say, it seems that no one wakes up in the morning thinking, “May I suffer the whole day?”

Which means that somehow, consciously or not, directly or indirectly, in the short or the long term, whatever we do, whatever we hope, whatever we dream — somehow, is related to a deep, profound desire for well-being or happiness. As Pascal said, even the one who hangs himself, somehow, is looking for cessation of suffering. He finds no other way. But then, if you look in the literature, East and West, you can find incredible diversity of definition of happiness. Some people say, I only believed in remembering the past, imagining the future, never the present. Some people say happiness is right now; it’s the quality of the freshness of the present moment. And that led Henri Bergson, the French philosopher, to say, “All the great thinkers of humanity have left happiness in the vague so that each of them could define their own terms.”

Well, that would be fine if it was just a secondary preoccupation in life. But now, if it is something that is going to determine the quality of every instant of our life, then we better know what it is, have some clearer idea. And probably, the fact that we don’t know that is why, so often, although we seek happiness, it seems we turn our back to it. Although we want to avoid suffering, it seems we are running somewhat towards it. And that can also come from some kind of confusions.

One of the most common ones is happiness and pleasure. But if you look at the characteristics of those two, pleasure is contingent upon time, upon its object, upon the place. It is something that — changes of nature. Beautiful chocolate cake: first serving is delicious, second one not so much, then we feel disgust.

That’s the nature of things. We get tired. I used to be a fan of Bach. I used to play it on the guitar, you know. I can hear it two, three, five times. If I had to hear it 24 hours, non-stop, it might be very tiring. If you are feeling very cold, you come near a fire, it’s so wonderful. After some moments, you just go a little back, and then it starts burning. It sort of uses itself as you experience it. And also, again, it can — also, it’s something that you — it is not something that is radiating outside. Like, you can feel intense pleasure and some others around you can be suffering a lot.

Now, what, then, will be happiness? And happiness, of course, is such a vague word, so let’s say well-being. And so, I think the best definition, according to the Buddhist view, is that well-being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that actually pervades and underlies all emotional states, and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way. For you, that might be surprising. Can we have this kind of well-being while being sad? In a way, why not? Because we are speaking of a different level.

Look at the waves coming near the shore. When you are at the bottom of the wave, you hit the bottom. You hit the solid rock. When you are surfing on the top, you are all elated. So you go from elation to depression — there’s no depth. Now, if you look at the high sea, there might be beautiful, calm ocean, like a mirror. There might be storms, but the depth of the ocean is still there, unchanged. So now, how is that? It can only be a state of being, not just a fleeting emotion, sensation. Even joy — that can be the spring of happiness. But there’s also wicked joy, you can rejoice in someone’s suffering.

So how do we proceed in our quest for happiness? Very often, we look outside. We think that if we could gather this and that, all the conditions, something that we say, “Everything to be happy — to have everything to be happy.” That very sentence already reveals the doom, destruction of happiness. To have everything. If we miss something, it collapses. And also, when things go wrong, we try to fix the outside so much, but our control of the outer world is limited, temporary, and often, illusory. So now, look at inner conditions. Aren’t they stronger? Isn’t it the mind that translates the outer condition into happiness and suffering? And isn’t that stronger? We know, by experience, that we can be what we call “a little paradise,” and yet, be completely unhappy within.

The Dalai Lama was once in Portugal, and there was a lot of construction going on everywhere. So one evening, he said, “Look, you are doing all these things, but isn’t it nice, also, to build something within?” And he said, “[Without] that — even if you get a high-tech flat on the 100th floor of a super-modern and comfortable building, if you are deeply unhappy within, all you are going to look for is a window from which to jump.” So now, at the opposite, we know a lot of people who, in very difficult circumstances, manage to keep serenity, inner strength, inner freedom, confidence. So now, if the inner conditions are stronger — of course, the outer conditions do influence, and it’s wonderful to live longer, healthier, to have access to information, education, to be able to travel, to have freedom. It’s highly desirable. However, this is not enough. Those are just auxiliary, help conditions. The experience that translates everything is within the mind. So then, when we ask oneself how to nurture the condition for happiness, the inner conditions, and which are those which will undermine happiness. So then, this just needs to have some experience.

We have to know from ourselves, there are certain states of mind that are conducive to this flourishing, to this well-being, what the Greeks called eudaimonia, flourishing. There are some which are adverse to this well-being. And so, if we look from our own experience, anger, hatred, jealousy, arrogance, obsessive desire, strong grasping, they don’t leave us in such a good state after we have experienced it. And also, they are detrimental to others’ happiness. So we may consider that the more those are invading our mind, and, like a chain reaction, the more we feel miserable, we feel tormented. At the opposite, everyone knows deep within that an act of selfless generosity, if from the distance, without anyone knowing anything about it, we could save a child’s life, make someone happy. We don’t need the recognition. We don’t need any gratitude. Just the mere fact of doing that fills such a sense of adequation with our deep nature. And we would like to be like that all the time.

So is that possible, to change our way of being, to transform one’s mind? Aren’t those negative emotions, or destructive emotions, inherent to the nature of mind? Is change possible in our emotions, in our traits, in our moods? For that we have to ask, what is the nature of mind? And if we look from the experiential point of view, there is a primary quality of consciousness that’s just the mere fact to be cognitive, to be aware. Consciousness is like a mirror that allows all images to rise on it. You can have ugly faces, beautiful faces in the mirror. The mirror allows that, but the mirror is not tainted, is not modified, is not altered by those images. Likewise, behind every single thought there is the bare consciousness, pure awareness. This is the nature. It cannot be tainted intrinsically with hatred or jealousy because then, if it was always there — like a dye that would permeate the whole cloth — then it would be found all the time, somewhere. We know we’re not always angry, always jealous, always generous.

So, because the basic fabric of consciousness is this pure cognitive quality that differentiates it from a stone, there is a possibility for change because all emotions are fleeting. That is the ground for mind training. Mind training is based on the idea that two opposite mental factors cannot happen at the same time. You could go from love to hate. But you cannot, at the same time, toward the same object, the same person, want to harm and want to do good. You cannot, in the same gesture, shake hand and give a blow. So, there are natural antidotes to emotions that are destructive to our inner well-being. So that’s the way to proceed. Rejoicing compared to jealousy. A kind of sense of inner freedom as opposite to intense grasping and obsession. Benevolence, loving kindness against hatred. But, of course, each emotion then would need a particular antidote.

Another way is to try to find a general antidote to all emotions, and that’s by looking at the very nature. Usually, when we feel annoyed, hatred or upset with someone, or obsessed with something, the mind goes again and again to that object. Each time it goes to the object, it reinforces that obsession or that annoyance. So then, it’s a self-perpetuating process. So what we need to look for now is, instead of looking outward, we look inward. Look at anger itself. It looks very menacing, like a billowing monsoon cloud or thunderstorm. We think we could sit on the cloud, but if you go there, it’s just mist. Likewise, if you look at the thought of anger, it will vanish like frost under the morning sun. If you do this again and again, the propensity, the tendencies for anger to arise again will be less and less each time you dissolve it. And, at the end, although it may rise, it will just cross the mind, like a bird crossing the sky without leaving any track. So this is the principal of mind training.

Now, it takes time, because it took time for all those faults in our mind, the tendencies, to build up, so it will take time to unfold them as well. But that’s the only way to go. Mind transformation — that is the very meaning of meditation. It means familiarization with a new way of being, new way of perceiving things, which is more in adequation with reality, with interdependence, with the stream and continuous transformation, which our being and our consciousness is.

So, the interface with cognitive science, since we need to come to that, it was, I suppose, the subject of — we have to deal in such a short time — with brain plasticity. The brain was thought to be more or less fixed. All the nominal connections, in numbers and quantities, were thought, until the last 20 years, to be more or less fixed when we reached adult age. Now, recently, it has been found that it can change a lot. A violinist, as we heard, who has done 10,000 hours of violin practice, some area that controls the movements of fingers in the brain changes a lot, increasing reinforcement of the synaptic connections. So can we do that with human qualities? With loving kindness, with patience, with openness?

So that’s what those great meditators have been doing. Some of them who came to the labs, like in Madison, Wisconsin, or in Berkeley, did 20 to 40,000 hours of meditation. They do, like, three years’ retreat, where they do meditate 12 hours a day. And then, the rest of their life, they will do three or four hours a day. They are real Olympic champions of mind training.

This is the place where the meditators — you can see it’s kind of inspiring. Now, here with 256 electrodes.

So what did they find? Of course, same thing. The scientific embargo — if it’s ever submitted to “Nature,” hopefully, it will be accepted. It deals with the state of compassion, unconditional compassion. We asked meditators, who have been doing that for years and years, to put their mind in a state where there’s nothing but loving kindness, total availability to sentient being. Of course, during the training, we do that with objects. We think of people suffering, of people we love, but at some point, it can be a state which is all pervading. Here is the preliminary result, which I can show because it’s already been shown. The bell curve shows 150 controls, and what is being looked at is the difference between the right and the left frontal lobe. In very short, people who have more activity in the right side of the prefrontal cortex are more depressed, withdrawn. They don’t describe a lot of positive affect. It’s the opposite on the left side: more tendency to altruism, to happiness, to express, and curiosity and so forth. So there’s a basic line for people. And also, it can be changed. If you see a comic movie, you go off to the left side. If you are happy about something, you’ll go more to the left side. If you have a bout of depression, you’ll go to the right side. Here, the -0.5 is the full standard deviation of a meditator who meditated on compassion. It’s something that is totally out of the bell curve.

So, I’ve no time to go into all the different scientific results. Hopefully, they will come. But they found that — this is after three and a half hours in an fMRI, it’s like coming out of a space ship. Also, it has been shown in other labs — for instance, Paul Ekman’s labs in Berkeley — that some meditators are able, also, to control their emotional response more than it could be thought. Like the startle experiments, for example. If you sit a guy on a chair with all this apparatus measuring your physiology, and there’s kind of a bomb that goes off, it’s such an instinctive response that, in 20 years, they never saw anyone who would not jump. Some meditators, without trying to stop it, but simply by being completely open, thinking that that bang is just going to be a small event like a shooting star, they are able not to move at all.

So the whole point of that is not, sort of, to make, like, a circus thing of showing exceptional beings who can jump, or whatever. It’s more to say that mind training matters. That this is not just a luxury. This is not a supplementary vitamin for the soul. This is something that’s going to determine the quality of every instant of our lives. We are ready to spend 15 years achieving education. We love to do jogging, fitness. We do all kinds of things to remain beautiful. Yet, we spend surprisingly little time taking care of what matters most — the way our mind functions — which, again, is the ultimate thing that determines the quality of our experience.

Now, compassion is supposed to be put in action. That’s what we try to do in different places. Just this one example is worth a lot of work. This lady with bone TB, left alone in a tent, was going to die with her only daughter. One year later, how she is. Different schools and clinics we’ve been doing in Tibet.

And just, I leave you with the beauty of those looks that tells more about happiness than I could ever say.

And jumping monks of Tibet.

Flying monks.

Thank you very much.

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Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

One of my earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to. And I was just a little kid, so I didn’t really understand why, but as I got older, I realized we had drug addiction in my family, including later cocaine addiction.

I’d been thinking about it a lot lately, partly because it’s now exactly 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States and Britain, and we then imposed that on the rest of the world. It’s a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believed that would deter them; it would give them an incentive to stop.

And a few years ago, I was looking at some of the addicts in my life who I love, and trying to figure out if there was some way to help them. And I realized there were loads of incredibly basic questions I just didn’t know the answer to, like, what really causes addiction? Why do we carry on with this approach that doesn’t seem to be working, and is there a better way out there that we could try instead?

So I read loads of stuff about it, and I couldn’t really find the answers I was looking for, so I thought, okay, I’ll go and sit with different people around the world who lived this and studied this and talk to them and see if I could learn from them. And I didn’t realize I would end up going over 30,000 miles at the start, but I ended up going and meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses to see if they like them — it turns out they do, but only in very specific circumstances — to the only country that’s ever decriminalized all drugs, from cannabis to crack, Portugal. And the thing I realized that really blew my mind is, almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong, and if we start to absorb the new evidence about addiction, I think we’re going to have to change a lot more than our drug policies.

But let’s start with what we think we know, what I thought I knew. Let’s think about this middle row here. Imagine all of you, for 20 days now, went off and used heroin three times a day. Some of you look a little more enthusiastic than others at this prospect. (Laughter) Don’t worry, it’s just a thought experiment. Imagine you did that, right? What would happen? Now, we have a story about what would happen that we’ve been told for a century. We think, because there are chemical hooks in heroin, as you took it for a while, your body would become dependent on those hooks, you’d start to physically need them, and at the end of those 20 days, you’d all be heroin addicts. Right? That’s what I thought.

First thing that alerted me to the fact that something’s not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I’ll be taken to hospital and I’ll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It’s actually much better heroin than you’re going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you’ll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you’ve taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right — those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks — What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn’t happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn’t come out as a junkie. (Laughter)

And when I learned this, it seemed so weird to me, so contrary to everything I’d been told, everything I thought I knew, I just thought it couldn’t be right, until I met a man called Bruce Alexander. He’s a professor of psychology in Vancouver who carried out an incredible experiment I think really helps us to understand this issue. Professor Alexander explained to me, the idea of addiction we’ve all got in our heads, that story, comes partly from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century. They’re really simple. You can do them tonight at home if you feel a little sadistic. You get a rat and you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles: One is just water, and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drug water and almost always kill itself quite quickly. So there you go, right? That’s how we think it works. In the ’70s, Professor Alexander comes along and he looks at this experiment and he noticed something. He said ah, we’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do except use these drugs. Let’s try something different. So Professor Alexander built a cage that he called “Rat Park,” which is basically heaven for rats. They’ve got loads of cheese, they’ve got loads of colored balls, they’ve got loads of tunnels. Crucially, they’ve got loads of friends. They can have loads of sex. And they’ve got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don’t like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they’re isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.

Now, when he first saw this, Professor Alexander thought, maybe this is just a thing about rats, they’re quite different to us. Maybe not as different as we’d like, but, you know — But fortunately, there was a human experiment into the exact same principle happening at the exact same time. It was called the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 20 percent of all American troops were using loads of heroin, and if you look at the news reports from the time, they were really worried, because they thought, my God, we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war ends; it made total sense. Now, those soldiers who were using loads of heroin were followed home. The Archives of General Psychiatry did a really detailed study, and what happened to them? It turns out they didn’t go to rehab. They didn’t go into withdrawal. Ninety-five percent of them just stopped. Now, if you believe the story about chemical hooks, that makes absolutely no sense, but Professor Alexander began to think there might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

Looking at this, there was another professor called Peter Cohen in the Netherlands who said, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature. That’s what we want as human beings.

And at first, I found this quite a difficult thing to get my head around, but one way that helped me to think about it is, I can see, I’ve got over by my seat a bottle of water, right? I’m looking at lots of you, and lots of you have bottles of water with you. Forget the drugs. Forget the drug war. Totally legally, all of those bottles of water could be bottles of vodka, right? We could all be getting drunk — I might after this — (Laughter) — but we’re not. Now, because you’ve been able to afford the approximately gazillion pounds that it costs to get into a TED Talk, I’m guessing you guys could afford to be drinking vodka for the next six months. You wouldn’t end up homeless. You’re not going to do that, and the reason you’re not going to do that is not because anyone’s stopping you. It’s because you’ve got bonds and connections that you want to be present for. You’ve got work you love. You’ve got people you love. You’ve got healthy relationships. And a core part of addiction, I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.

Now, this has really significant implications. The most obvious implications are for the War on Drugs. In Arizona, I went out with a group of women who were made to wear t-shirts saying, “I was a drug addict,” and go out on chain gangs and dig graves while members of the public jeer at them, and when those women get out of prison, they’re going to have criminal records that mean they’ll never work in the legal economy again. Now, that’s a very extreme example, obviously, in the case of the chain gang, but actually almost everywhere in the world we treat addicts to some degree like that. We punish them. We shame them. We give them criminal records. We put barriers between them reconnecting. There was a doctor in Canada, Dr. Gabor Maté, an amazing man, who said to me, if you wanted to design a system that would make addiction worse, you would design that system.

Now, there’s a place that decided to do the exact opposite, and I went there to see how it worked. In the year 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One percent of the population was addicted to heroin, which is kind of mind-blowing, and every year, they tried the American way more and more. They punished people and stigmatized them and shamed them more, and every year, the problem got worse. And one day, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition got together, and basically said, look, we can’t go on with a country where we’re having ever more people becoming heroin addicts. Let’s set up a panel of scientists and doctors to figure out what would genuinely solve the problem. And they set up a panel led by an amazing man called Dr. João Goulão, to look at all this new evidence, and they came back and they said, “Decriminalize all drugs from cannabis to crack, but” — and this is the crucial next step — “take all the money we used to spend on cutting addicts off, on disconnecting them, and spend it instead on reconnecting them with society.” And that’s not really what we think of as drug treatment in the United States and Britain. So they do do residential rehab, they do psychological therapy, that does have some value. But the biggest thing they did was the complete opposite of what we do: a massive program of job creation for addicts, and microloans for addicts to set up small businesses. So say you used to be a mechanic. When you’re ready, they’ll go to a garage, and they’ll say, if you employ this guy for a year, we’ll pay half his wages. The goal was to make sure that every addict in Portugal had something to get out of bed for in the morning. And when I went and met the addicts in Portugal, what they said is, as they rediscovered purpose, they rediscovered bonds and relationships with the wider society.

It’ll be 15 years this year since that experiment began, and the results are in: injecting drug use is down in Portugal, according to the British Journal of Criminology, by 50 percent, five-zero percent. Overdose is massively down, HIV is massively down among addicts. Addiction in every study is significantly down. One of the ways you know it’s worked so well is that almost nobody in Portugal wants to go back to the old system.

Now, that’s the political implications. I actually think there’s a layer of implications to all this research below that. We live in a culture where people feel really increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of addictions, whether it’s to their smartphones or to shopping or to eating. Before these talks began — you guys know this — we were told we weren’t allowed to have our smartphones on, and I have to say, a lot of you looked an awful lot like addicts who were told their dealer was going to be unavailable for the next couple of hours. (Laughter) A lot of us feel like that, and it might sound weird to say, I’ve been talking about how disconnection is a major driver of addiction and weird to say it’s growing, because you think we’re the most connected society that’s ever been, surely. But I increasingly began to think that the connections we have or think we have, are like a kind of parody of human connection. If you have a crisis in your life, you’ll notice something. It won’t be your Twitter followers who come to sit with you. It won’t be your Facebook friends who help you turn it round. It’ll be your flesh and blood friends who you have deep and nuanced and textured, face-to-face relationships with, and there’s a study I learned about from Bill McKibben, the environmental writer, that I think tells us a lot about this. It looked at the number of close friends the average American believes they can call on in a crisis. That number has been declining steadily since the 1950s. The amount of floor space an individual has in their home has been steadily increasing, and I think that’s like a metaphor for the choice we’ve made as a culture. We’ve traded floorspace for friends, we’ve traded stuff for connections, and the result is we are one of the loneliest societies there has ever been. And Bruce Alexander, the guy who did the Rat Park experiment, says, we talk all the time in addiction about individual recovery, and it’s right to talk about that, but we need to talk much more about social recovery. Something’s gone wrong with us, not just with individuals but as a group, and we’ve created a society where, for a lot of us, life looks a whole lot more like that isolated cage and a whole lot less like Rat Park.

If I’m honest, this isn’t why I went into it. I didn’t go in to the discover the political stuff, the social stuff. I wanted to know how to help the people I love. And when I came back from this long journey and I’d learned all this, I looked at the addicts in my life, and if you’re really candid, it’s hard loving an addict, and there’s going to be lots of people who know in this room. You are angry a lot of the time, and I think one of the reasons why this debate is so charged is because it runs through the heart of each of us, right? Everyone has a bit of them that looks at an addict and thinks, I wish someone would just stop you. And the kind of scripts we’re told for how to deal with the addicts in our lives is typified by, I think, the reality show “Intervention,” if you guys have ever seen it. I think everything in our lives is defined by reality TV, but that’s another TED Talk. If you’ve ever seen the show “Intervention,” it’s a pretty simple premise. Get an addict, all the people in their life, gather them together, confront them with what they’re doing, and they say, if you don’t shape up, we’re going to cut you off. So what they do is they take the connection to the addict, and they threaten it, they make it contingent on the addict behaving the way they want. And I began to think, I began to see why that approach doesn’t work, and I began to think that’s almost like the importing of the logic of the Drug War into our private lives.

So I was thinking, how could I be Portuguese? And what I’ve tried to do now, and I can’t tell you I do it consistently and I can’t tell you it’s easy, is to say to the addicts in my life that I want to deepen the connection with them, to say to them, I love you whether you’re using or you’re not. I love you, whatever state you’re in, and if you need me, I’ll come and sit with you because I love you and I don’t want you to be alone or to feel alone.

And I think the core of that message — you’re not alone, we love you — has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts, socially, politically and individually. For 100 years now, we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

Thank you.

 

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All you have is TODAY . . .

When you wake up in the morning, do not expect to see the evening  – live as though today is all that you have. Yesterday has passed with its good and evil, while tomorrow has not yet arrived, if it ever will.

Therefore, your life’s span is but one day, as if you were born in it and will die at the end of it. With this attitude, you will not be caught between an obsession over the past, with all its anxieties, and the hopes of the future, with all its uncertainties.

Live for today ! During this day you should pray with a wakeful heart, and recite the Quran with understand and remember your lord with sincerity. In this day you should be balanced in your affairs, satisfied with what you been blessed with and concerned with your appearance and health.

Organize the hours of this day, so that you make years out of minutes and months out of seconds. Seek forgiveness from your Lord and prepare for the final parting from this world, and live today happily and truly and be at peace. Be content with your sustenance, your wife, your children, your work, your house, and your station in life.

So hold that which I have given you and be one of the grateful

Quran 7:144

Live today free of sorrow, bother, anger, jealousy and malice.

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Remember these lines . . .

“Today is my only day. If you have eaten warm, fresh bread today, then what do yesterday’s dry, rotten bread and tomorrow’s anticipated bread matter?

When you achieve this attitude, you will profit from every moment of your day, by continuously developing your abilities, and purifying your deeds. Then you say to yourself:

Today I shall be refined in my speech and will utter neither evil speech nor obscenity. Also I shall not backbite.

Today I shall organize my house and my office. They will not be disorderly and chaotic, but organized and neat.

Today I will be particular about my body cleanliness and appearance. I will be meticulous in my neatness and balanced in my walk, talk and actions.

Today i will strive to be obedient to my Lord, pray in the best manner possible, do more voluntary acts of righteousness and kindness, recite the Quran and read beneficial books. I will plant goodness into my hearts and extract from it the roots of evil – such as pride, jealousy, and hypocrisy.

Today I will try to help others – to visit the sick, to attend a funeral, to guide the one who is lost, and to feed the hungry. I will stand side by side with the oppressed and the weak. I will pay respect to the scholar, be merciful to the young, and reverent to the old.

O’ past that has departed and gone, I will not cry over you. You will not see me remembering you, not even for a moment because you have traveled away from me never to return.

O’ future, you are in the realm of the unseen, so I will not be obsessed by your dreams. I will not be preoccupied about what is to come because tomorrow is nothing which has yet to be created.

‘Today is my only day’ is one of the most important statements in the dictionary of happiness, for those who desire to live life in its truly fullest splendor and brilliance.

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The Past is Forever Gone

By worrying over the past and its tragedies, one parades a form of insanity – a kind of sickness that destroys the will to live for the present moment. Those who have a firm purpose have filed away and forgotten the occurrences of the past, the past of which will never again see light, since they occupy such a dark place in the recesses of the mind. Affairs of the past are finished with ; the events already unfolded, sadness cannot retrieve them, melancholy cannot make things right, and depression will never bring the past back to life and neither can you do anything to change it. This is because the past is non-existent.

Do not live in the nightmares of former times or under the shade of what you have missed. Save yourself from the ghostly apparition of the past. Do you think that you can return the sun to its place of rising, the baby to its mother’s womb, milk to the udder, or tears to the eye? By constantly dwelling on the past and its happenings, you place yourself in a very frightful and tragic state of mind.

Reading too much into the past is a waste of the present. When Allah mentioned the affairs of the previous nations, He, the Exalted said:

That was a nation who has passed away

Quran 2:134

Former days are gone and done with, and you gain nothing by carrying out an autopsy over them, by turning back the wheels of history.

The person who lives in the past is like someone who tries to saw sawdust. Of old, they used to say, “Do not remove the dead from their graves”.

Our tragedy is that we are incapable of dealing with the present: neglecting our beautiful castles, we wail over dilapidated buildings. if every man were to try to bring back the past, they would most certainly fail. Everything on earth marches forward, preparing for a new season – and so should you.

Stop thinking – what if i did that – what if i do this – Stop, just live in the moment because as far as we concern, this moment is all we have and this present moment is passing by under our noses.

Make a past that you’ll love to remember, one that will bring smile to your face.

Just stop your regrets, and start living mindfully.

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A Simple Way To Break Bad Habits

When I was first learning to meditate, the instruction was to simply pay attention to my breath, and when my mind wandered, to bring it back.

Sounded simple enough. Yet I’d sit on these silent retreats, sweating through T-shirts in the middle of winter. I’d take naps every chance I got because it was really hard work. Actually, it was exhausting. The instruction was simple enough but I was missing something really important.

So why is it so hard to pay attention? Well, studies show that even when we’re really trying to pay attention to something — like maybe this talk — at some point, about half of us will drift off into a daydream, or have this urge to check our Twitter feed.

So what’s going on here? It turns out that we’re fighting one of the most evolutionarily-conserved learning processes currently known in science, one that’s conserved back to the most basic nervous systems known to man.

This reward-based learning process is called positive and negative reinforcement, and basically goes like this. We see some food that looks good, our brain says, “Calories! … Survival!” We eat the food, we taste it — it tastes good. And especially with sugar, our bodies send a signal to our brain that says, “Remember what you’re eating and where you found it.” We lay down this context-dependent memory and learn to repeat the process next time. See food, eat food, feel good, repeat. Trigger, behavior, reward.

Simple, right? Well, after a while, our creative brains say, “You know what? You can use this for more than just remembering where food is. You know, next time you feel bad, why don’t you try eating something good so you’ll feel better?” We thank our brains for the great idea, try this and quickly learn that if we eat chocolate or ice cream when we’re mad or sad, we feel better.

Same process, just a different trigger. Instead of this hunger signal coming from our stomach, this emotional signal — feeling sad — triggers that urge to eat.

Maybe in our teenage years, we were a nerd at school, and we see those rebel kids outside smoking and we think, “Hey, I want to be cool.” So we start smoking. The Marlboro Man wasn’t a dork, and that was no accident. See cool, smoke to be cool, feel good. Repeat. Trigger, behavior, reward. And each time we do this, we learn to repeat the process and it becomes a habit. So later, feeling stressed out triggers that urge to smoke a cigarette or to eat something sweet.

Now, with these same brain processes, we’ve gone from learning to survive to literally killing ourselves with these habits. Obesity and smoking are among the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the world.

So back to my breath. What if instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention, we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process … but added a twist? What if instead we just got really curious about what was happening in our momentary experience?

I’ll give you an example. In my lab, we studied whether mindfulness training could help people quit smoking. Now, just like trying to force myself to pay attention to my breath, they could try to force themselves to quit smoking. And the majority of them had tried this before and failed — on average, six times.

Now, with mindfulness training, we dropped the bit about forcing and instead focused on being curious. In fact, we even told them to smoke. What? Yeah, we said, “Go ahead and smoke, just be really curious about what it’s like when you do.”

And what did they notice? Well here’s an example from one of our smokers. She said, “Mindful smoking: smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals, YUCK!” Now, she knew, cognitively that smoking was bad for her, that’s why she joined our program. What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.

Now, she moved from knowledge to wisdom. She moved from knowing in her head that smoking was bad for her to knowing it in her bones, and the spell of smoking was broken. She started to become disenchanted with her behavior.

Now, the prefrontal cortex, that youngest part of our brain from an evolutionary perspective, it understands on an intellectual level that we shouldn’t smoke. And it tries its hardest to help us change our behavior, to help us stop smoking, to help us stop eating that second, that third, that fourth cookie. We call this cognitive control. We’re using cognition to control our behavior. Unfortunately, this is also the first part of our brain that goes offline when we get stressed out, which isn’t that helpful.

Now, we can all relate to this in our own experience. We’re much more likely to do things like yell at our spouse or kids when we’re stressed out or tired, even though we know it’s not going to be helpful. We just can’t help ourselves.

When the prefrontal cortex goes offline, we fall back into our old habits, which is why this disenchantment is so important. Seeing what we get from our habits helps us understand them at a deeper level — to know it in our bones so we don’t have to force ourselves to hold back or restrain ourselves from behavior. We’re just less interested in doing it in the first place.

And this is what mindfulness is all about: Seeing really clearly what we get when we get caught up in our behaviors, becoming disenchanted on a visceral level and from this disenchanted stance, naturally letting go.

This isn’t to say that, poof, magically we quit smoking. But over time, as we learn to see more and more clearly the results of our actions, we let go of old habits and form new ones.

The paradox here is that mindfulness is just about being really interested in getting close and personal with what’s actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. This willingness to turn toward our experience rather than trying to make unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible. And this willingness to turn toward our experience is supported by curiosity, which is naturally rewarding.

What does curiosity feel like? It feels good. And what happens when we get curious? We start to notice that cravings are simply made up of body sensations — oh, there’s tightness, there’s tension, there’s restlessness — and that these body sensations come and go. These are bite-size pieces of experiences that we can manage from moment to moment rather than getting clobbered by this huge, scary craving that we choke on.

In other words, when we get curious, we step out of our old, fear-based, reactive habit patterns, and we step into being. We become this inner scientist where we’re eagerly awaiting that next data point.

Now, this might sound too simplistic to affect behavior. But in one study, we found that mindfulness training was twice as good as gold standard therapy at helping people quit smoking. So it actually works.

And when we studied the brains of experienced meditators, we found that parts of a neural network of self-referential processing called the default mode network were at play. Now, one current hypothesis is that a region of this network, called the posterior cingulate cortex, is activated not necessarily by craving itself but when we get caught up in it, when we get sucked in, and it takes us for a ride.

In contrast, when we let go — step out of the process just by being curiously aware of what’s happening — this same brain region quiets down.

Now we’re testing app and online-based mindfulness training programs that target these core mechanisms and, ironically, use the same technology that’s driving us to distraction to help us step out of our unhealthy habit patterns of smoking, of stress eating and other addictive behaviors.

Now, remember that bit about context-dependent memory? We can deliver these tools to peoples’ fingertips in the contexts that matter most. So we can help them tap into their inherent capacity to be curiously aware right when that urge to smoke or stress eat or whatever arises.

So if you don’t smoke or stress eat, maybe the next time you feel this urge to check your email when you’re bored, or you’re trying to distract yourself from work, or maybe to compulsively respond to that text message when you’re driving, see if you can tap into this natural capacity, just be curiously aware of what’s happening in your body and mind in that moment. It will just be another chance to perpetuate one of our endless and exhaustive habit loops … or step out of it.

Instead of see text message, compulsively text back, feel a little bit better — notice the urge, get curious, feel the joy of letting go and repeat.

Thank you.

Reference

[1] Judy Brewer TED Talk

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Redefining “Money Can’t Buy You Happiness”

Last weekend, while taking a stroll in a mall, i was having this urge to buy a new MacBook pro, however, this come to mind.

Think of the last time your bought something you really wanted. How did you feel afterwards? It felt good.

Buying that thing, whatever it is, will bring you happiness. When you finally have it, you will be excited to try it out.

As cliche as it says “money can’t buy you happiness”, we feel happy when we buy the things we want.

However, these feeling never lasted.

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The Real Reason Why You Are Happy When You Buy Stuff

Human beings are hardwired to seek instant gratification. You’ve probably heard the phrase instant gratification hundreds of times. To get that thing we want, the moment we want it. This desire for instant gratification came to us as a survival mechanism.

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While instant gratification is in human’s nature, we live in a society driven by delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is the desire for something but the inability to get it when you want. In our society, you have to wait for your pay day, your meal at a restaurant, your coffee at Starbucks. When the thing you want finally arrives, you get excited.

Your excitement for this thing, the delayed gratification often elicits stronger emotional responses in you than when you get it. This feeling comes from dopamine a chemical that influences the pleasure centers in our brains.1 When you become excited for something, you are actually enjoying a release of dopamine into our system. The thing you are actually excited for is almost secondary to it.

Think about it, how did you feel a couple hours after buying something you waited a long time for? It was probably not nearly as good as when you first got it, or when you’re waiting to get it. It’s natural, it’s a part of human nature.

In this way the happiness you feel isn’t true happiness. In fact, biologically speaking, you’re just enjoying a blast of dopamine. When this blast of dopamine is gone, you want something new again, which is secretly, more dopamine. This is what that old saying “money can’t buy you happiness” really means.

There is, however, a way in which money can buy you happiness. It’s just not in a way you think.

An Alternative to Buying Happiness

Recently Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA conducted a study where two groups of people were given $40 each.2 One group was told to spend it in buying a possession, an object, something they wanted. The other group was told to spend it in ways that would enable them to have more free time, for example, having food delivered to save them from cooking, or hiring a cleaner, instead of cleaning their house themselves. When each participant in the study were to measure their happiness to a 10 point scale, those who spent their money on more free time were almost always one whole point ahead of those who spent their money on stuff.

In a sense, they were happier because they brought themselves out of doing something they didn’t want to do. Just buying more stuff, in the long run didn’t have much of an affect on their happiness, when those who spent money on time found an increase in life satisfaction.

It was the free time that made people happy.

It was the quality time that contributed more to their happiness, the money was just a tool they used to get more time. But the money ultimately is unnecessary. All that is required is a re-adjustment of how you measure time.

Everyone has 24 hours a day. The life expectancy for females is 81.2 years; for males, it’s 76.4 years. Most people have more or less the same time of living. To make every hour, or minute count is the way to create your own happy time. If you are always feeling busy and don’t think you have enough quality time for yourself, you need to make a change to turn things around.

To be truly happy, make quality time a true value in your life. Find out how to do so in my other article How to Gain More Time Like Making Money.

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THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS A LIFE OF PURPOSE.

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS A LIFE OF PURPOSE. 

Those who are truly enlightened know what they want out of life, emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually. Clearly defined priorities and goals for every aspect of your life will serve a role similar to that played by a lighthouse, offering you guidance and refuge when the seas become rough.

Life is funny.

One would think

that the less one worked the more one would have the chance to experience happiness. However, the real source of happiness can be stated in a word: achievement. Lasting happiness comes from steadily working to accomplish your goals and advancing confidently in the direction of your life’s purpose. This is the secret to kindling the inner fire that lurks within you.

Remember, you will not find true joy in sleeping, in relaxing or in spending your time like an idler.

As  Benjamin Disraeli said: ‘The secret of success is constancy of purpose.’

The happiness you are searching for comes through reflecting on the worthy aims you are dedicated to achieving and then taking action daily to advance them. This is a direct application of the timeless philosophy which prescribes that those things which are most important should never be sacrificed to those things which are the least important.

 

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10 Ritual of Radiant Life

1. RITUAL OF SOLITUDE – (MOMENT OF SILENT)

  • Moment of silent to Solitude and quiet connects you to your creative source and releases the limitless intelligence of the Universe.
  • Maybe this is the reason why Islam recommend Muslim to stand in night prayer in the last 3rd of the night, when the night is dark, and people are sleeping, to relieve yourself of your worries and prepare for the next day.
  • Maybe this is the reason why most Muslim scholar belief that night prayer would not only make your closer to God, but also happier.

2. RITUAL OF PHYSICALITY (POWER OF PHYSICAL CARE)

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  • The Ritual of Physicality is based on the principle that says as you care for the body so you care for the mind. As you prepare your body, so you prepare your mind. As you train your body, so you train your mind. Take some time every single day to nourish the temple of your body through vigorous exercise. Get
    your blood circulating and your body moving. Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? At least five of those hours should be invested in some form of physical activity.
  • ‘To breathe properly is to live properly.'”
  • How to breathe properly ? Your belly should move out slightly. This indicates that you are breathing from the abdomen, which is good. A trick taught to me was to cup my hands over my stomach. If they moved out as I inhaled, my breathing technique was proper.

3. THE RITUAL OF LIVE NOURISHMENT

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  • A poor diet has a pronounced effect on your life. It drains your mental and physical energy. It affects your moods and it hampers the clarity of your mind.
  • ‘As you nourish your body, so you nourish your mind.'”
  • So what to eat? Live food. Live foods are the answer. Live foods are foods that are not dead. Basically, live foods are those which are created through the
    natural interaction of the sun, air, soil and water. What I’m talking about here is a vegetarian diet. Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, fruits and grains and you might just live forever.
  • What does Islam said about that. It remind me of a speach from Hamza Yusuf on eating meat (from the audio tape “The Science of Shari’ah” ):

    “Meat is not a necessity in Shari’ah, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat, if they were wealthy, like middle class—once a week on Friday. If they were poor—on the Eids.”

    “So traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians. The Prophet was, I mean, technically, the Prophet (SAWS) was in that category. He was not a meat-eater. Most of his meals did not have meat in them. And the proof of that is clearly in the Muwatta—when Sayyidina Umar says, ‘Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.’ And the other hadith in the Muwatta—there is a chapter called ‘Bab al-Laham,’ the chapter of laham, the chapter of meat. Both are from Sayyidina Umar. And Umar, during his khilafa, prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row. He only allowed them to eat [it] every other day. And the khalifa has that right to do that. He did not let people eat meat every day � he saw one man eating meat every day, and he said to him, ‘Every time you get hungry you go out and buy meat? Right? In other words, every time your nafs wants meat, you go out and buy it?’ He said, ‘Yeah, Amir al-Mumineen, ana qaram,’ which in Arabic, ‘qaram’ means ‘I love meat’—he’s a carnivore, he loves meat. And Sayyidina Umar said, ‘It would be better for you to roll up your tummy a little bit so that other people can eat.’”

    “Now Umar, if there was a prophet after the Prophet, it would have been Umar. And that is really verging on prophecy, that statement. Because if you study the modern meat industry, you will find out that a lot of the famine in the world is a direct result of the over-consumption of meat in countries like the United States and Canada and Europe, because the amount of grain needed to produce 1 pound of meat, right, is much greater than the amount you need to produce grain itself. And beef in particular—I really recommend Rifkin’s book Beyond Beef. It’s an extraordinary book. And it’s interesting ‘Baqara’ is also a chapter of the Qur’an (‘kill the cow’), because beef-eating societies just have massive impact on the environment, on natural resources, on all these things. And traditionally the Muslims were not cow-eaters, they were sheep and lamb [-eaters] when they did eat meat.”

     

4. THE RITUAL OF ABUNDANT KNOWLEDGE

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  • It centers around the whole notion of lifelong learning and expanding your knowledge base for the good of yourself and all those around you .
  • However, knowledge is only potential power. For the power to be manifested, it must be applied. Most people know what they should do in any given situation, or in their lives for that matter. The problem is that they don’t take daily, consistent action to apply the knowledge and realize their dreams.
  • The Ritual of Abundant Knowledge is all about becoming a student of life. Even more importantly, it requires that you use what you have learned in the classroom of your existence.
  • Get my priorities straight? Try not to live your life bound by the shackles of your schedule. Instead, focus on those things that your conscience and your heart tell you to do. When you invest in yourself and start to devote yourself to raising your mind, body and character to their highest levels, you will almost feel as if you have a personal navigator inside you, telling you which things you must do to see the greatest and most rewarding results. You will stop worrying about your clock and start living your life.
  • Read regularly. Reading for thirty minutes a day will do wonders for you. But I must caution you. Do not read just anything. You must be very selective about what you put into the lush garden of your mind. It must be immensely nourishing.  Make it something that will improve both you and the quality of
    your life.

You are what you EAT & You are what you READ.

-Ahmed Deedat

    1. I would never tell you not to read as many books as you can. But remember, some books are meant to be tasted, some books are meant to be chewed and,
      finally, some books are meant to be swallowed whole. Which brings me to another point. I simply want to tell you that to truly get the best out of a great book, you must study it, not just read it.
    2. Thirty minutes a day will make a delightful difference in your life because you will quickly start to see the vast reserves of knowledge available for your use. Every answer to every problem you have ever faced is in print.
    3. All the mistakes you will ever make in your life have already been made by those that have walked before you. Do you really think that the challenges you are facing are unique to you?

5. RITUAL OF PERSONAL REFLECTION

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  • By taking the time to get to know yourself, you will connect to a dimension of your being that you never knew you had.
  • It’s actually a very practical concept. You see, we all have many sleeping talents inside of us. By taking the time to get to know them, we kindle them. However, silent contemplation will deliver even more than this. This practice will make you stronger, more at ease with yourself and wiser. It is a very rewarding use of your mind.
  • Remember, there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Mistakes are part of life and essential for growth. It’s like that saying, ‘Happiness comes through good judgment, good judgment comes through experience, and experience comes through bad judgment.’ But there is something very wrong with making the same mistakes over and over again, day in and day out. This shows a complete lack of self-awareness, the very quality that separates humans from animals.

6. RITUAL OF EARLY AWAKENING.

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  • One of the best pieces of advice I learned was to rise with the sun and to start the day off well. Most of us sleep far more than we need to. The average person can get by on six hours — and remain perfectly healthy and alert.
    Sleep is really nothing more than a habit and like any other habit, you can train yourself to achieve the result you want; sleeping less in this case.
  • For the first few days, you will feel very tired. I’ll freely admit this. You might even feel this way for the first week of getting up nice and early. Please see this as a small measure of short-term pain for a large measure of long-term gain. You will always feel a little discomfort when you are installing a new habit. It’s sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes — at first it’s a little hard to wear them but soon they fit like a glove. As I told you earlier, pain is often the precursor to personal growth. Don’t dread it Instead, embrace it.”
  • Here are a couple of quick tips. First, never forget that it is the quality and not the quantity of sleep that is important. It is better to have six hours of uninterrupted deep sleep than even ten hours of disturbed sleep. The whole idea is to provide your body with rest so that its natural processes can repair and restore your physical dimension to its natural state of health, a state that is diminished through the stresses and struggles of daily use.
  • The ten-minute period before you sleep and the ten-minute period after you wake up are profoundly influential on your subconscious mind. Only the most inspiring and serene thoughts should be programmed into your mind at those times.

7. RITUAL OF MUSIC

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  • And i don’t mean heavy metal or rock music. But music that give your heart joy and soothing. For Muslim, i would recommend listening to the holy Qur’an, since it has soothing effect for the soul.

8. RITUAL OF SPOKEN WORDS

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  • The sages had a series of mantras which they would recite morning, noon and night. They told me that this practice was immensely effective in keeping them focused, strong and happy.
  • For Muslim, I would recommend to recite the collection of prayers and verses of the Qur’an from Al-Mathurat as compiled by As Syahid Imam Hassan Al Banna based on authentic narration of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

9. RITUAL OF A CONGRUENT CHARACTER.

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  • Simply stated, this ritual requires you to take daily, incremental action to build your character. Or simple Kaizen, a daily step of self-mastery and improvement.

The Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. said: “He whose two days are equal, is a loser.”

    • Strengthening your character affects the way you see yourself and the actions you take. The actions you take come together to form your habits and, this is
      important, your habits lead you to your destiny.

You sow a thought, you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow
a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap your destiny.'”

10. RITUAL OF SIMPLICITY (requires you to live a simple life)

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Unless you reduce your needs, you will never be fulfilled. You will always be like that gambler in Las Vegas, staying at the roulette wheel for ‘just one more spin’ in
the hope that your lucky number will come up. You will always want more than you have. How can you ever be happy?”