Why Only 1% Improvements?

We are supposed to do so much more, are we not?

As Greg Wells PhD., a Toronto-based professor and exercise medicine researcher said,

A 1% change [in your deen] might not seem like much, but small improvements in the way you live every day will amplify your life. [Because] being just 1% better is like compound interest for your body and mind.” — The Ripple Effect

If we can be true to every piece of advice, every good thing inside of us and lean in to them, we would be much better people overall. We would be healthier, happier, kinder and more optimistic, because it’s not about listening to these things.

First of all, listening is too strong of a word. ‘Listening’ is dense and sounds like you might press a button and automatically yield results! Cars took decades to design, you did not just turn the ignition and start the car without someone making an effort beyond you commuting to a dealership and writing a cheque. That is not how life works.

Really, it is about leaning into the truth of our hopes and our good nature, our core principles and the little things in life that could be done just a bit better. It is about braving through minor changes without focusing so closely on the outcome. It’s okay! If you try to start saving up and miss the mark, you’re not going to default on your student loans and go bankrupt overnight!

Look, we humans make life changes very hard for ourselves. It is easy to simply say we can’t change because “the older you get, the more solid your habits are.” Children are willing to experiment, to right their wrongs, but we are afraid to be judged, like we don’t know what we are doing, or as if we lack discipline. But is this not the epitome of the way such issues are created? We want to hold on to our agency we have to make decisions, good or bad, with less visible consequence from others who are polite. We are stubborn in holding on to this version of ‘freedom to choose,’ which ironically disables us from making a change.

It’s not about admitting we are wrong. It is about seeing beyond where we are. Change begins with kindness, and believing discipline is a choice – as opposed to something you just have or are born into.

Take my morning tea, for instance. I know too much of it makes me diuretic and dehydrated. I know taking 2.5 teaspoons of sugar so consistently endangers my health. Maybe I should not drink condensed milk. So I don’t force myself to stop. I simply entertain the idea of something different, a little less unhealthy, for a few days. Maybe even a few weeks, depending on how resistant I am to the idea. So next time, I add a teaspoon of whole milk, and wonder, while sipping my delightful drink, about what it would be like to taste it with whole milk alone. If I hate it, I go back and continue decreasing in increments, repeating the process. I constantly remind myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing, as silly as it seems. You might think, “Well, why not just stop and be done with it?” Consider your guiltiest pleasure, and see what you might find easier. That’s how I understand this, however small, example.

I don’t know what your reasons for change are. But whatever the motivation, you don’t need to try to believe it’s a reason that will help you come back to the right track, if it is.

Most reasons that drive us to be better people are ones that were already there in the first place. May Allah grant us all success that will give us prosperity and peace in this world and the next – Ameen!

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