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S01E46 – OK Let’s Talk About The Elephant In The Room – Regret

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Muslim Life Hackers

Channel: Muslim Life Hackers


Episode Notes

e all have events, situations and circumstances that we just wish didn’t exist. Things that plague our mind that we wish we could forget, but the thoughts keep coming back! Decisions that we have made, for which we pray and hope that the next day when we wake up could have been a nice dream. Or maybe our dreams are full of wanting to have actually done something at all!


The elephant in the room.

In this episode Maheen talks about the emotion of regret, what are the circumstances and events that we regret most, why does this happen and is there a way to let go of the past?

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.

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Episode 46. And that's another thing that's really interesting about the topic of regret is that it's just so hard to let go of this emotion. Welcome to the Muslim life hackers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts Mithra maroof and Mahima lake.

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this is main Malik here, and I'm your host for today's podcast. This is Episode 46. As usual, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in today's episode in our show notes at Muslim life hackers.com, forward slash 46. And that's the number 46. Alright, so let's get right into it. Today's topic is on regret and letting go of the past that today's topic was actually suggested by a listener who wrote in on our feedback form. So shout out to that guy who suggested the topic, we really appreciate it. And for those who are interested in leaving feedback, or suggestions for future episode, topics, being go to Muslim life hackers.com forward slash feedback, or you can just

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tweet at us our handle is m lefrak. is let's let's talk about regret, let's let's start this conversation, we'll have things in our past that we have to live with now. And we all have those things that where we wish that we could, you know, go back and change something. And we believe that if we had, like a time machine, like, you know, we could we could hop into a TARDIS shout out to all this doctor who fans out there. And we could go back and do things differently. And this is kind of like the essence of how like how I would explain it, I was actually after doing like a Google search on regret. And like letting go of the past, which is basically like strategy of research. That's how

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I kind of start is by just do a broad search and then kind of go more and more like further into it. So I'm doing a quick Google search on it, here across YouTube video. And it was basically a sermon by a priest at a local us church that had like a YouTube channel. And he was talking about regret in in the form of sin, which I thought was really interesting. You talked about sins that are sins of omission and sins of commission, he talked about sins of omission, meaning like, stuff that he regretted he didn't do. And he shared the story about how, you know, his his mother was passing away. And on her deathbed, what the nurses advised him to do was to asked her questions, you know, I

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asked her questions, you know, engage with her, you know, get to know her even more than you do already ask her questions about her past and, and the priest was saying, you know, that this was some of the best advice that I had ever been given. You know, he continued on to ask his mother questions, you know, in her last moments, and he's like, you know, now that she's passed away, I can think of all the questions in the world questions. Just keep flooding to me that I, I probably should have asked her and I'm, I keep thinking to myself, you know, what I hadn't thought about asking her this, like, I would have loved to hear her talk about this and stuff like that. And

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basically, what he was saying was that that was something he regretted not doing. He he saw it as a sin of omission. That's how he explained it. I thought that was a really interesting story that he shared and a really relevant one, because we all have those. We all have people in our lives and spawn that like, as we know, this life is not permanent, they pass on. And we wish, you know, we had interacted with them more. And we have that regret. And I have a similar short story to share later on as well about this issue. And again, he talked about Sins of commission, which are things that you've done that you've regretted, for example, you might like steel, you might say something to

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someone that could potentially harm you further down the line, maybe you've done into the future, he saw this, he saw the distinction of regret in those two paths, where it was something that you wish that you had done, or something that you've done that you wish that you hadn't. And that's how I kind of want to set the foundation to this whole thing I regret is it's an odd feeling. It's not a pure feeling, in a sense that, you know, we feel fear and you know, it's just fear straight through and through with regret. It's, you know, it's anxiety, it hinders us in all of our other areas of our lives, it impacts us, it invades into every one of our thoughts.

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Keep ruminating about whatever it is that's that we're regretful of that that may have happened in the past. we're anxious about it, we feel that will happen again. And that that makes it even more hard to let go of whatever it is that you know, we're holding on to whatever event that it may be. It's a series of events, maybe it's like a significant choice that you made in your life that you wish that you had done differently. And that's another thing that's really interesting about the topic of regret is that it's just so hard to let go of this emotion we might have

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Like, for example, you might have an event, you may have regretted, you know, severing ties with a family, a loved one, or us, or one of your kin, like a brother or a sister, you may have, you know, had an argument with them, and you regret it, and it's been used, and you just wish that, you know, things hadn't gone the way they had. And sometimes it's really hard to let go of these things that may have happened, because, and some of the unconscious reasons behind them behind it could be that, you know, one of the things that are that are holding you back from letting go of these things from the past is that you may feel that you might free occur again. Or you may fear that if you let go of

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this thing from the past, you'll be vulnerable to more more suffering will come to you if you let go of this. Or in some ways, you may see that past regret as your burden to carry throughout life. And you feel that it's and you feel that it's part of your identity. Now, you must go through life with this baggage with this continuous anxiety and regret and rumination about something that might have happened in the past, but comes in all shapes and forms. And there's several different circumstances attached to what you may be regretting or how you may be experiencing regret. And those actually a very interesting TED Talk done by Katherine shawls. And I know I've just like completely butchered

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that last name. And she talks about, I'll link it in the show notes as well. She has a talk that's titled don't regret regret, which immediately, obviously caught my eye. So check that out. She's she talks about good side of regret things that we hold on to or may not be good, but it's actually a good kind of kind of personal compass. And what she meant by this was that those people who don't feel regret, actually, it's a mental diagnostic marker for psychopaths, and people who have brain damage. These are, these are the kinds of people who don't regret. So the fact that you are feeling regret for something is, in fact, a mark of normality, in a sense, and she defines regret. And this

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is a definition that she gives us an emotion that we experienced, we think that her current position could be better, if we could have done it done something in the past differently. And it's kind of broken down in this way. In order. In order for us to regret something, we need to first have agency and second imagination agency in that when we think that we can or we can make our own decisions. And secondly, imagination, we need to have the cognitive ability to imagine go back into the past, see ourselves doing something different forward and kind of predict a better future for ourselves. One where there is no regret. So that's the two components that are needed for us to feel regret. So

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just continue on the composition on regret that she has, she talks about how we all different amounts for the amount of regret that we assign to a certain situation, for example, it's your best friend's wedding, and you have to catch a flight to another country to get to the wedding or something like that. And so on your way to the airport, you're stuck in traffic. And by the time you get to the airport, you miss your flight. Now, depending on how much you missed your flight, by the more regret that you'll feel. For example, if you missed your flight by three minutes, as opposed to 20 minutes, you're gonna feel more regret in that situation. And it's important to be aware of this,

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the fact that in some situations, it's, it's more painfully easy to imagine a better alternative. For example, you missed your flight by three minutes, you're going to be thinking, Oh, man, if only you know, I had run that orange light, or if only you know, I had taken the tunnel instead of the bridge or something like that. These are the kind of classical conditions of regret where something has gone wrong, but it was so close to being okay. And most of what we know about emotion of regret is done is through a lot of research by behavioral economic researchers pervin Macy looking into you know, bias, you know, you buy something and you immediately regret it afterwards. But there's a lot

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of research on, you know, what do what do we most regret in life? What do people most regret in life? And to give you some stats here, and this is really interesting. When I came across this, it was just, yeah, it just really, it just really shocked me. First of all, it's education. People who get education the most, you know, they wish they had taken on more education. They wish you know, they're taking their education bit more seriously. They wish they had, you know, invested more time into it, or they they regret the degree that they did, because that's the number one thing that people regret is their education. Number two is their career. People forget the careers that they go

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in, they regret how much time they spent in a certain career. Third is romance. People regret, you know, decisions that they made in that kind of field with the stars, possibly, maybe they you know, arguments and so forth. For this parenting. People who get the way they parent to prove that you know how early they had children and

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So fourth, things like that. Next people regret their self, you know, things to do with their identity, how they see themselves, how they've built themselves up for the world to see them. That's the fifth most high ranking regret. Sixth is leisure, or how we don't spend our leisure time. People who get, you know, wasting their leisure time on things that they regret, basically. And then after that comes finances, and so forth. And what's really interesting to note here, and what I want you to keep in mind is that these are regrets with people who are healthy individuals, you know, they're going about their lives, these odd regrets of dying people, which would be very, very different. And

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that is actually a topic for another podcast. It's it's really interesting that the top six things that we regret our education, career, romance, parenting, self, and leisure. And I actually have a story about education, because education was actually one of my biggest regrets. So how it works in Australia is that you do you're, after I got my grades back, I got admitted, I picked. I picked a medical sciences degree to get into because I wanted to become a surgeon originally, that was like what I wanted to be back in the day. And I learned to the medical sciences degree bachelor's at a prestigious university in New South Wales. And I got into it, and after I did about six months of

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it, I realized that, you know, it wasn't for me, that's not what I wanted to do. After about another six months, I decided, you know, I have to change my degree, like, I want to go into psychology, I had done like some psychology units as electives. And I was like, you know what this is, this is more me, this is what I want to do. And so I changed my degree. And ever since then, you know, I've been regretting spending a year doing medical sciences instead of, you know, picking psychology off the bat, I feel like I had wasted that year, and it has continually haunted me that, you know, I'm behind with my degree, I see like, people who were, you know, kind of who went to university that

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same time as me, you know, they've already they're about to graduate. And I still have like a while to go for a graduate. So that was like one of my biggest regrets. And as it's shown by all these economic researchers, education happens to be one of the biggest regrets people have. So next, I want to move on to the symptoms of regret, how does regret manifests itself, within each and every person. So typically, there's four ways that four kind of stages that regret goes through. And first of all, whatever it is, that happens to you, you're first of all going to be experiencing denial, what you're going to be saying to yourself is like, you know, make a go away, I, I don't want this

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in my life, you know, I want my mom or something like that. That's the kind of like first stage you're going to go through with, you know, your regret cycle. Next is bewilderment, you know, you're gonna be thinking, you know, how, how could I have done that? You know, what was I thinking? Those are the kind of things that we're going to be going through your mind. Next, you're going to want to be punishing yourself, you're gonna, you're literally going to be saying to yourself, no, I kicked myself, why did I do that? You know, I'm so dumb, you know, things like that. That's the next kind of like stage that people go through in the regret cycle. And the fourth one is rumination, you're

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going to be thinking these thoughts over and over and over again. So you're going to be thinking, you know, how could I do this? How could I have done that, you know, I've messed things up, I'm so dumb again, and again and again. And that's typically the cycle that regret goes through. And the fourth one, that rumination is typically where people get caught up in and this is what causes so much hindrance in their lives. And you know, it really sucks the energy out of whatever else, they're going for themselves, because they're just so focused on this one thing, that they feel that you know, they've done wrong in their lives. And that just impacts everything else down the line.

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Part of why I believe that you know, we've we experienced regret so fully,

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especially in a Western society is that we live in a control Z society. And Catherine, within the TED Talk, she talks about what a control Z society is, you know, we don't face a lot of difficulty within our lives, we don't have a lot of challenges a hamdullah we live in comparatively to people in other parts of the world, we live in a lot of

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wealth, we have a little bit of little wealth, we feel like you know, if something goes wrong, we can just, you know, undo it controls the Delete, unfriend or unfollow, and you know, the difficulty will go away. And when something actually really significant comes and impacts us and hits us really hard. we're faced with a, we're faced with a lot of resistance within ourselves, because we were desperately looking for control that, you know, we don't have that's a really interesting remark that she makes on why it is that, you know, we're so troubled by regret in our society these days. And I was really interesting. Another really interesting point that I want to make about regret, is

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that what is regret? Really, really, really, it's actually, if we think about it, regret is something from the past something that has happened previously. And like the future, in a way, the past and the future are not real yet. It's just a concept. Of course it's happened. There's no denying that and there's no doubt

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This future as well, something will happen in the future and something has happened already in the past. But what I really want to highlight highlight to you is that your perception of the past and things that have happened in the past are just thoughts. It's not actually happening right now. And what's making someone feel and what's causing us to be constantly thinking about this thing that's happened in the past is this constant rumination, which sucks our performance in the present, it sets you up for a lot of depression actually spent a lot with this in mind, we can kind of come to the understanding that the past is just a thought. And really, were attributing a lot of energy and

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emotion to something that is really just in your head. Now, I'm not trying to dismiss the significance of what might have happened in the past. There's definitely lessons to be learned. And it's definitely strategy and planning that you can be doing. But what I want you to understand is that what's happened in the past is just a memory, which is just a spark and the second of electrical currents in the pool of mesh that is really upgrading. That's something really interesting to keep in mind there. Now, I know what you're thinking right now, man, you've told me a lot about you know, how regret works, what a, you know, the kind of symptoms of regret, you know,

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impact how it impacts your life and things like that, you know, what can we do about it other anyways? Is it possible for us to move past regret? And the answer is, yes, it is possible to move past regret. And I'm going to be giving you six tips on how to get past regret, though, what I want you to keep in mind is that depending on your commitment to choosing to move past an event that might be significant within your life, depending on the severity of the event that might have happened. And I do understand that some events that happened in the past that we regret pull off are excruciating the piecing and painful and it might be very hard for you to be moving past them and

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know that you know, there's a time associated with all things that happen in life, and inshallah these six tips will help you in your understanding and comprehension of what's happened. And hopefully, inshallah help you move past that as well. So with that being said, I'm going to be giving you those six tips. And tip number one, to feel regret is actually a blessing. And we always Muslims, that what are the real blessings that Allah subhanaw taala gives us is the feeling of regret. Now we might have done something within our lives. And it might have been something really bad, it might have been a sin, for example. And for us to feel regret after that sin is actually a

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sign, it's actually a step towards repentance, we feel bad for doing something, we feel the pain of a decision. Ultimate spent with Allah is putting that recognition within us that something needs to be done about a certain something, something needs to be done about an event something needs to be done about a situation, do not feel regret after something is a very worrying thing. So with that in mind, know that it's actually a blessing in disguise for for you to be feeling regret about something, it means that you're present, it means that you're aware, it means that Allah subhanaw taala wants you to know, tip number two, regret. And this kind of goes hand in hand with the

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previous one, regret is universal, and take that as consolidation. Everyone in the world feels regret, it might not be about the same things. But we all go through experiences within life, and some of them are good, some of them are bad. And that's just what makes life life. The fact that you might be going through something with your life, taking solace in the fact that you can look at anyone else and acknowledge and see that, you know, they have regrets of their own as well. Everyone has a particular unique circumstance. And within that there are pros and cons take heart in the fact that you're not alone. Within your regret. Would you like to think that we're special butterflies,

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but actually, sometimes that's the case. But sometimes it's not. And most of the time, it's not. And the fact is that everyone goes through these stages in their lives. Tip number three, find the silver lining. And this is kind of like the tip of being grateful and finding the silver lining in the event that might have happened or that thing that you might regret doing. It connects the positive and negative parts of ourselves and helps us create peace within ourselves. Looking for that good within something that you might have regretted happen is kind of like the first step towards your recovery. In a sense, you're acknowledging that, you know, the world is not just evil,

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there's there's good and there's something that has lesser good. So look for something that is the blessing within within the skies. And to share a personal story about that. One of the things that I really regretted in my life was a few years back, my grandmother passed away in our house and she had been she was really sick and she had she'd been suffering from dementia and several other ailments in her body.

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We knew that, you know, time was short with her.

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And one of the things that I regret not doing was spending more time with her. And in these last few days, I always felt like, you know, I've got time to sit with her and talk with her and listen to her and be there supporting her and things like that. And I remember one day where I had some work to do, and I had to leave the house. And my mom was like, Look, Wayne, I don't think that, you know, I don't think that you should go today. And I think that you should be staying with your baby, or your baby john, like, which is Farsi for grandma. And, you know, I'm like, Look, Mom, I'm gonna be back really soon. And I'm just gonna pop out. And I'll be back. And I'll be here to help you out

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with her. And I remember about 20 minutes later, while I was driving to work, mom gave me a call. And I answered the phone safely, of course, my answer the phone, and she said, You know, when you know, your grandmother's passed away, please come home right now, on the drive back, I just felt this huge amount of regret, why didn't I just stay there and, you know, help her and be with her and her last moments that has I mean, that that was something that I really regretted within my life. But having that experience has taught me the silver lining, and that was that I've learnt to cherish every moment with people, my family, and for example, my grandfather, or my aunts and things like

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that I try. And now not all the time, but most of the time I try and take as much as I can from them, you know, talk to them, get their stories, make memories with them, things like that. And that is something that I've learnt. And that's kind of like the silver lining. In my experience. That was very good. My grandma, may Allah be pleased with her and admit her into Jenna. I mean, so that was tip number three, find the silver lining, look for something to be grateful for. Tip number four, just stop thinking about it. Whenever whatever it is that you're grading pops up into your mind, immediately shut it off and think about something else. For example, going back to my example on how

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I regret choosing medical sciences for a year, whenever that publicist in my head, I'm just like, you know, no, I'm not gonna be thinking about that, you know, I've chosen and I'm on the path to the career, and the degree that I feel comfortable in life, I feel that is right for me now. And I humped off for that, you know, I'm on the right track. So before that, as soon as the thought that you're grading pops into your mind, immediately shut it down and think about something that you're actually grateful for. That's happened, think about something else entirely. So and this kind of like stops that rumination pattern that you've got going on, in your mind this complete cycle of,

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you know, why did I do that? Why, why why I could like, kick myself for it. Why did I do that? Why me? So just as soon as a thought pops into your mind, just stop it right there. put the brakes on it, and say no, and move on to something else. Think about something else, think about something positive. So that's Tip number four. Tip number five, have something to look forward to now, there's no coincidence and studies have found is that people who have have more vivid imagination of the future or you can imagine more vividly,

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a less likely to be people linked with depression and suicidality. So have something look to look forward to become excited about your future, thinking about the positive possibilities that could come and you'll find that once you have like this greater appreciation for what's to come, what's happened in the past doesn't seem as bleak anymore. Because you have something to look forward to you have something that's there to come to look forward to inshallah, and with that being said, just doing something, you know, busying yourself, just getting into like work, becoming productive, productive, is a remedy in itself to all of this, forget that you that you might be feeling. If

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you're not busying yourself and you're not, you know, doing things and being proactive. You're just asking for it, you know, rumination is gonna start immediately, it's just gonna happen by itself because literally, you've got nothing else to do but think about you know, all the regrets in your life. So it has some things you can plan an amazing future for yourself, get excited about things, and you'll find that regrets start to fade into the background. So that was tip number five. Tip number six. Remember that everything is in Allah's hands. You know, we plan but Allah is the best of planners. And I know when people hear this they feel a bit disheartened. Part of it is the solution

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that you know, we're in control of everything in our lives. And you know, we're not dependent upon anyone but knowing that you know what's to come in what has happened in the past is in Allah Spanner with Ella's hands, is actually a huge relief. You are not here to dictate every single part of your life. You're not here to dictate every single second that is to happen to you. For that to be on our shoulders would be madness, we wouldn't be able to handle it. Knowing that everything is in Allah's hands really gives you a sense of calmness and peace, because he wants what's best for us. Surely he's the one who loves us more than our parents do. And he wants for us what we might perceive is

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good in the moment.

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But later on down the track, the wisdom becomes clear to us. And we know that our if this, if this had not happened, I wouldn't have been in this position that I am now I wouldn't have this blessing that I have now, if it wasn't for that regret that happened in the past. And that's just the really beautiful thing about Islam the teaches us through this crazy thing that is life to appreciate a crater even more. And just to recap those tips on regrets for us, they were tip number one, know that feeling regret is actually a blessing. Tip number two,

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regret is universal and take comfort in that. Tip number three, find the silver lining, something to be grateful for. Tip number four, just stop thinking about it. Tip number five, have something to look forward to. Tip number six know that everything is an Allah spawn with all his hands. So that's all I've got on the topic of regret. I hope you've learned something. And this has helped you maybe think more deeply about things that you might be regretting in your life. Maybe you feel like it's time to move on. And just before you wrap up. Did you know that Muslim life because it's got an app, which you can find on the Android, Apple and Windows stores, download the app today or go to Muslim

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life hackers.com forward slash app for more information, you can find the full list of our previous episodes and interviews, which you can download favorite and download them for later to listen to along with some other cool features like email the show directly from the app as well as new episodes being automatically updated on there. Make sure you grab it from your local app store today. And just before we end up, as usual, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in today's episode in our show notes at Muslim life hackers.com forward slash 46

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All right, folks, that's all for today. Till next time, aim high take action.

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Episode 43

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Wait, Oh, come on. Episode 46 Woody.

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Let's go.