Archive for November, 2011

Turn in your Weapons

Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. It’s the beginning of a new start where we pray to Allah to forgive our sins from the past year, and to also make this following year immersed in His remembrance and filled with Taqwa.

Muharram also is an important month rich with lessons about the sacrifice of the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Hussein (as). Every year, many people come together to commemorate these nights to take lessons of where they can apply them to their daily lives. Below is one story that was mentioned in one of the books narrating the story of Karbala which contained a lesson for me:

The day before the war in Karbala began, Umar-ibn-said sent a messenger with a letter of request for Imam Hussein to make allegiance to Yazid.  The messenger arrived close to the Imam’s tent and was faced with a guard. They haven’t mentioned in history who the guard of the tent was, but it was usually the Imam’s brother, Hadrateh Abbas.

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11 2011

Happiness and Choice

Some recent evidence suggests that people may be happier when they have fewer choices. Barry Schwartz (http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html) in a recent TED Talk discusses the “paradox” of choice in the Western culture. While we tout our personal freedoms as a trait to be emulated in the world, it is something that, according to Schwartz, actually “paralyzes” us. We often end up regretting our choices and always looking for ways to maximize our happiness without ever being satisfied with the choices we do make. Additionally, he argues that often we are not well equipped to be making complex decisions at all. Dan Gilbert (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html), in his TED Talk, discusses a similar topic and presents research that supports his theories. In his talk, he states that, after one year, research shows that a paraplegic and a lottery winner are about the same level of happiness. He expounds on this point and concludes that human beings can be truly happy in extraordinary circumstances as an adaptive measure.

My parents often reminisce about their childhood and how they were happy with just one toy when they were kids and could not believe the overabundance of “stuff” that children have in modern day America. They also look at me incredulously when I ask them if they were “happy” with some of the conditions in which they grew up and respond: “We did not have a choice” implying, of course, that they were happy because they had no other option.

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11 2011