The month of February is known for many things. One of the most common is Valentine’s Day, which has been taken over by commercial interests around the world to sell more chocolates, stuffed toys, greeting cards, jewellery, and to fill restaurants with people pursuing romance. Rather than be turned off by the gross commercialization of the day, I choose to focus on its roots; the expression of love (OK, go on, call me a hopeless romantic).

When thinking about love, one of the pieces of literature which resonates with me is the following reading, which by the way, Elisa and I used at our wedding.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

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The end of one year and start of another is always a time of reflection on the year that was and the lessons we learnt along the way. It is also time for resolutions and a time to share good wishes for the upcoming year.

Our wish for 2017 is a life of abundance for our family, friends and colleagues.

Abundance and prosperity are buzzwords we hear quite often. For many people the first thing these words bring to mind are money and material possessions. That is too simplistic a view. Abundance is about much more than the number of zeros in your bank account; it is about being rich, with or without money.

Abundance is:

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Quoting Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) may seem out of place; our advice, don’t scoff but take a look at some of his wonderful quotes – you will be inspired!

This month we are talking about Gratitude. Recently someone sent me a link to an article in the New York Times titled: “Choose to be Grateful. You will be Happier.” At the time I briefly thought about the motivation – was it simply wanting to share a good article with a colleague who would appreciate this kind of philosophy or did he think that I needed help. For the record, I wasn’t offended and chose to treat it as a gift, something for which to be grateful.

For those interested, it is worth reading the whole article (NYT Article: ). For people who want the synthesised version, the key message is simple: you do not need to feel thankful to be grateful, rather, by actively choosing to practice gratitude we raise our happiness. This assertion is supported with references to numerous research reports and experiments. One amusing assertion is that expressing gratitude has a downside as there is some research suggesting it could make you fat (there is evidence that people begin to crave sweets when they are asked to express gratitude).

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It’s very easy to live a full life, to go through the motions of living, without being fulfilled. I am as guilty as anyone else. Let me explain.

Some years ago (read that as many) I sat down to reflect on my life. I had attained the items I thought I wanted to be happy and successful. Most were things – the house, car and clothes I coveted. On some level, I believed having the trappings of a successful life would translate into creating the feelings of a happy life. The reality was very different.

My perspective at the time was flawed. Material things can be nice and they are fun to accumulate especially when they are part of a passion, hobby, or lifestyle you enjoy. But things and money don’t provide the one thing we all desire … fulfillment.

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Recently, at the beginning of a class I was asked to close my eyes and set an intention for the upcoming session. At this stage, I was wondering, “What have I got myself into?” – this wasn’t new to me but I wasn’t attending a yoga class – I was attending an all day workshop at the Idea World Fitness Convention.

Later I reflected on my thought process and questioned my reaction. Why was I so surprised? The speaker was simply asking me to be clear on what I wanted to gain from the programme. It was a very powerful invitation; I answered honestly and as a result had a clear purpose for the session (which was to gain specific knowledge on functional ageing). It allowed me to stay focussed during the day, instead of thinking about how cold it was in the meeting hall (it was really cold), my next meal or what the weather was like outside. The reality was that these things were irrelevant in that moment.

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This is the age of speed dating, speed yoga, and, yes, even speed meditation. It’s a time of rush-rush-rush in the attempt to do more, sooner, faster. But there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of evidence that packing in more actually achieves more. If squeezing ever more into your day isn’t enabling you to accomplish more—and to feel good about the more that you accomplish—perhaps some slowing down is in order.

There is a different idea called the Slow Movement. Carl Honoré is a key advocate of this movement. In his TED talk on the topic, he states the movement is designed to counteract the notion that faster is always better; the objective of the slow movement is to seek the right speed to do things, savouring hours and minutes spent rather than measuring and counting them, and doing things as well as possible rather than as fast as possible.

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Part of our vacation in July, was spent at the Idea Fitness Convention in Los Angeles. We were surrounded by some of the biggest names in fitness and industry professionals from around the world. While we came away with many ideas, many of which you will see progressively introduced to the studio, one of the most inspiring sessions was from Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Success Principles.

Jack had many key messages but the most important, and the message that resonated the most, was that there is only one person that is responsible for the quality of life that you live… and that is you! You are responsible for the success you achieve, the results you produce, the state of your health and the quality of your relationships.

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When we don’t accept an undesired event, it becomes Anger;
when we accept it, it becomes Tolerance.

When we don’t accept uncertainty, it becomes Fear;
when we accept it, it becomes Adventure.

When we don’t accept other’s bad behaviour towards us, it becomes Hatred;
when we accept it, it becomes Forgiveness.

When we don’t accept other’s success, it becomes Jealousy;
when we accept it, it becomes Inspiration.

Acceptance is the key to living life well.

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The Holy month of Ramadan is just a few days away. It is a month of introspection, devotion, self-discipline and fasting.

The Arabic word for “fasting” (sawm) literally means “to refrain” – and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. Fasting reminds us of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of food and shelter, and helps us cultivate empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. By sacrificing the comforts on which we may rely on for superficial happiness, fasting strengthens our commitment to spiritual values and inspires us to devote our lives to a greater purpose.

While our Muslim brothers and sisters take an entire month out of their lives to observe this strict fast and rededicate themselves to worship and faith, it is a great time for us to observe “Brahmacharya” which translates to non-excess.

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May Focus: Karma I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying “What goes around comes around” and that life is a continuous flow of energy that we send out and receive back. To put it simply, I believe in sort of Karma; not in a religious sense but in the context of our actions toward others affect our own lives. Those of you who have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” may understand the concept I am referring to.

Living in Dubai where “excess” seem to be part of our everyday lives, we sometimes miss out on opportunities to cultivate good karma. We at Inspire would like to dedicate the month of May as a reminder that we can always incorporate personal awareness and small acts of kindness in our everyday lives to encourage an environment of “Good Karma”.

What is Karma?

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