Author Archives: Mohamed Z.

3 Life Lessons from the Olympics

Olympic life lessons

 

Every four years the world’s largest sports event is held, bringing with it amazing spectacles and displays of athletic feats and achievements. Yet behind each of those awe-inspiring Olympic triumphs are inspirational stories that are engraved with qualities and traits we all aspire to attain.

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Beat Your Own Record And Dream Greater Dreams

The Olympics continue to bring its seasonal inspirations day after day. From stories of suffering refugees finally seeing their dreams come to life on the world stage to athletes breaking world records, and records they’ve achieved themselves before.

And seeing pro athletes break records they set themselves is an inspiration in and of itself.

What better achievement is there to achieve something and outdo it again, and again, and again? Read the rest of this entry

Yusra Mardini: From Swimming for Life to Swimming for Glory

By ACNUR Comité español (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWTvAF4moK0) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini’s story begins as any tragic story from war-torn Syria begins. A young woman, fleeing death and destruction, in search for hope and dreams.

Her journey from Syria to Germany took her through the perils thousands upon thousands of refugees have faced while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Yet her role in that crossing was not that of a mere passenger aboard a small boat.

As the New York Times reports, the dinghy she was on was about to sink, potentially taking the refugees aboard and their lives down with it.

Yusra Mardini and her sister jumped into the water and pushed the small boat and those aboard to safety.

While that heroic deed was most certainly the highlight of her journey, she also endured other troubles as she traveled through Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, and other central European countries before finally reaching Germany.

Yusra Mardini said she began to learn how to swim when she was 3, and her father continued to train her till she started to compete for her country’s national team. The Syrian Olympic Committee recognized her potential and her determination and began to support her ambitions as well.

Life in Syria took a turn for the worse when war broke out in 2011. Yet despite the horrible conditions, Yusra continued to train. “Sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war,” the Independent quoted her as saying. “And sometimes you would be swimming in pools where the roofs were [blown open] in three or four places.”

Yusra Mardini finally made it to the 2016 Olympics and was selected to join the Olympic Refugee Team with several other refugees from other struggling corners of the world.

 


(Yusra Mardini during the Women’s 100m Buttefly)

Her story will remain an inspiration to the world. A story of a dream that, through perseverance, struggle, and sacrifice, became a reality.

You can show your support by visiting Yusra Mardini’s official Facebook fan page here.

If you’re bored, here’s one thing to do about it

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Life has its ups and downs, and I’m not just talking about the emotional roller coaster we all go through. I’m talking about the ups and downs of enthusiasm, energy, and eagerness to do something.

One possible reason behind your boredom is the plateau your standing on and feeling quite satisfied with at the moment. And the monotonous feeling that long plateau you’ve been walking on has produced. The same job. The same career. The same routine. The same . . . everything?

No, don’t quit your job in search of something new, nor change your career to make like seem more drastic.

On the contrary, stick to your current job if it is crucial for your career. And, if your career is what you’ve dreamed of, keep working for it. But do something different with your job, or with your life outside of work. Something worthwhile. Something that will truly bring you great benefit.

Try to change your approach to something at work. Or try a different voice or style, if your job involves creativity. Or try to work on a more challenging project (if possible, of course.)

Take on a new hobby, or try a do-it-yourself project after work.

Are you a regular at one café or deli? Try a different one. Meet new faces. Discover new stories.

Whatever you decide to fiddle your mind with, do something different, something you haven’t done – or something completely outside of your routine – to ignite a fun spark to your life. And to throw that boredom out the nearest window.

Just Doing Something is Very Important, But Don’t Forget This

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Once you realize your dream, your goal, or whatever it is that you yearn to achieve, it is very crucial to actually get your hands dirty with working on it. And even when you do, you won’t make it.

Yup, you won’t make it to your goal on a straight, smooth upward slope like you were riding an escalator. And you would never know where you are headed by just walking in some random direction.

The world is a map, and your life is a bucket list of places you want to visit. Only that these places, these destinations your heart desires to see, are your goals. And just as you might live your entire life without visiting breathtaking sights and being immersed in unbelievable experiences, you might live your life without achieving any goal your mind keeps begging you to work on if you don’t learn how to achieve them.

Unless you are walking on a prairie or vast grassland, getting to a destination never involves walking in a straight line. In cities, there are streets you must walk through, turns you have to make, and detours that may throw you further from your goal than you desire. In forests, you might have to walk around a lake, decide to avoid a muddy area, and trip on a few rocks or vines on the ground.

Your original set of directions to your destination, your initial plan to achieve your goal, may not get you there on the first try. And it just might not have been the best option.

Never let a failed plan ruin your dreams. Always be prepared for the unexpected. Keep a few other alternatives ready. And push on toward your goal.

You’re NOT Thinking Inside a Box, but Through a Window

sunset through the windows
The old piece of golden advice that taught us to think outside the box never felt accurate.

When trying to come up with a new idea, I rarely felt that I was constrained within a six-sided container. I felt that I can think upward, but to a certain extent; downward, but to a certain extent; to the left, but to a certain extent; to the right, but to a certain extent; and when thinking forward, it felt like I can keep on thinking, but only in that direction, with the only constraint being what my eyes can reach.

It felt more like a window that provides a frame and allows you to think of as many ideas as you can, but only through a certain perspective and a certain direction.

Constantly trying to think of a new idea outside of the world you know and live in is not really how to come up with new ideas. And, in reality, you really are constrained by the world around you.

It’s not that your mind is in a box, but that it is looking at the world around you through one window. And since the world has so much more to be seen beyond a window in your bedroom, it is essential to step away from it and look at the world from other perspectives. (Not another perspective, but as many different perspectives as you can think of.)

So if you are feeling less inspired someday, take your creative gear to another location that provides a different view and perspective, and think of a new idea once more.

And, rather than thinking through a window at all, step outside and draw inspiration from the world beyond the glass.

How Mondays are Really Your Best Days

Mondays (and their equivalents in other cultures, such as Sundays in the Arab world) have long been synonymous with such emotions as dread, anxiety, and trepidation. And those do seem like natural emotions anyone should feel at the start of any work week. Unless you are working your dream job, of course.

But Mondays may resemble more than the start of a new 5-day series of dreadful hours of labor.

A Matter of Perspective

Life is always how we see it. And every aspect of it is also a matter of perspective. Your current job may either seem like hell on Earth, or a stepping stone toward a goal you set your mind to.

And while Mondays certainly do seem like the first moments of the worst part of your week, they also are the first moments of opportunity for a better work week.

Your Career’s Weekly Rebirth

Short of actually finding a new opportunity and quitting your current job, Monday’s are your career’s weekly rebirth. And how you use your Monday may set the tone for the rest of the week. Not only for yourself, but for the way your coworkers and managers perceive you and your performance.

Let each Monday truly be a rebirth for your performance, for your outlook on the week, and for the way you interact with those around you. After all, after a good or bad weekend, people will, or at least should, care more about what you do now, and not what you did three days ago.

All the Small Things

For a truly different Monday, take up a few new small habits to feel good from the start of the day. If you usually get up slightly late and feel like you’re in a race against time to get to work at a decent time, even if it is late, push yourself to get up just 10 minutes earlier than usual to really enjoy that good cup of coffee or tea before you hit traffic. Or use those minutes to read or watch something motivating or inspirational. Or simply use them to reach work in a less stressed and more relaxed mood.

Whatever can help make you feel better for a new day, do it. And take full advantage of the start of the new week.

Embrace Your Mondays

And remember, whatever it is you are doing now, it is just another stepping stone toward a bigger goal or dream you have. So embrace your next Monday as the opportunity it truly is.

Long Unplanned Writing Break (and a New Platform)

I had a rather long unplanned break from writing during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. No, fasting and the lack of food and water from dawn to dusk was not the reason behind the break, but rather, a mere lack of inspiration and motivation to come up with anything to put down into a decently sized string of words.

With Ramadan over, as well as the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr (literally translated as Celebration of the Feast) that marks the end of the month of fasting, it is time to try to keep this blog alive once again.

Another piece of news I would like to share is a new writing platform I recently joined.

While searching the net for a platform geared toward writers a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Medium. And at first I merely followed some writers and publications that I found interesting, inspiring, and motivating.

Just today, I posted my first piece on the platform and decided to also try to write regularly there as well. (How regularly? I’m not even sure yet.)

And for any writers reading this post right now, you might want to give it a try as well.

Detoxing the People Around you

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Alexandrian Mediterranean Sea (by Zein Designz)

As humans, we are affected by everything around us either positively or negatively. A good cup of coffee can lead to a great start for the day, whereas a stale cup can add misery instead. A nice walk along the shore can uplift our spirits, whereas walking through a crowded street can feel chaotic.

The people around us also affect us in many ways. Meeting good friends puts a smile on our faces once we approach them. Speaking to a confidant helps relieve stress and the burden of holding in all our worries and troubles. Meeting an acquaintance who seems to be pleasant also helps make our lives more interesting and pleasant.

And, of course, the people in our lives can also have negative impacts on us, our moods, and our outlook. The drama setters can throw you into a tempest of rumors, backstabs, and gossip. The self-interest seekers will suck out your energy and good will for their own gains.

And sometimes even friends and family can cause drama and turmoil for you. You may find yourself absolutely loyal to an acquaintance who shows practically no true loyalty or friendliness in return. Family members may pull you from each of your limbs to help them out with their own problems and their issues they can handle themselves.

Detoxify your list; clear out those non-friends from your life and only befriend those who have shown true companionship in your struggles through life.

You’ll start noticing your life feeling ever purer and clearer.

The Strangers You Call Friends

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For those of us who are kindhearted, generous, and well-intentioned, life is loaded with some very tough decisions when it comes to the people we consider friends and colleagues. We prefer offering help from exploiting others, and we prefer keeping in touch than cutting ties.

But life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. And it is a rarity to find people whose hearts are really worth a pot of gold.

Sometimes we get attached to seemingly good people. Sometimes, even when we know some ties need to be cut, we keep those ties tight thinking that is how we are destined to be.

But those around you need to be put in perspective and within the context of your life.

None of those around you, save your mother, was there once you gasped your breath and cried when you came into this world. Everyone was, at one point in time, a complete stranger to you and someone whom your inner instincts told you to be cautious around.

After a while, and after several interactions, some people became your acquaintances and colleagues, and a few of those gradually became your friends.

And yet, some of those eventually walked away. Even in today’s world of instant communication capabilities and social media, they rarely bother to greet you even on a weekly basis, and when a message from you pops up in their inbox, they reciprocate the gesture eons later.

If you are still reaching out to people of that nature, reciprocate their silence and, before you know it, you will realize that some of whom you called friends are, in fact, strangers or acquaintances at best.

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