Monday, 22 July 2013

20 Life Lessons That Took Me by Surprise (Part 2)

  11. There is no shame in not taking sides:

Nowadays, there is a growing trend of individualism along with ignorance and extremism. You find yourself being pushed constantly to take a position and choose a side. If you decide not to do so, you face being labelled as careless, ignorant or simply not tough enough to stand your ground and face opposition. I'm here to tell you that none of that is true. You are not ignorant or careless if you choose to not associate yourself with anyone or anything. We are only so when we decide willingly to let matters pass which we believe are not of concern to us and when we to choose to stay ignorant rather than continue seeking fact from fiction. We must be the middle path of all sides so that our eyes remain open to the shortcomings of all parties. Relinquishing our biased perspective enables us to become a witness to any injustice. Choosing this path will also allow our lack of defensiveness, since this is not a personal matter attached to our worth, to speak only with which we know rather than with which we wish to know. There is no shame in admitting lack of knowledge.


Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you. [Al-Baqara: 143]

12. The young and elderly are fountains of wisdom and inspiration:

    When life gets dull and repetitive and you're looking for a new course and a new perspective, there is no better way to do so than to connect with a young or elderly individual. There are people in our lives whom we neglect on a daily basis that have a lot more to offer us than what we may be lead to believe. Yet, we choose to focus on ourselves and the next phase of our lives we lose touch of the blessings we've got in the present. Later we wonder why we've lost our purpose and our luster and we look for distraction and desperately seek inspiration. Take the time to reconnect with an elder or a child who can brighten up your life and give you a holistic perspective on where you were and where you should go and your bigger connection to the people around you and the larger community. A child can teach you something about the new world you were not aware of and a wise elder can show you the consequences of your lifestyle today and will thus lead you to the inevitable truth; you are a projection of one of many who have lived before you and who will live after you. So take what they have to offer and be grateful for this opportunity at some wise insight on life.

13. Giving love is like getting love :

    We're lead to believe that those who love us are obligated to show their love to prove it. The reality is, not everyone expresses love in the same manner and some of us may never receive the love we expect from the world. That's okay. The romance we all desperately crave to be present in our everyday life can be planted and nurtured by no other than ourselves. I'm not talking about a limited image of romance in the candle light and whatnot, although that is a type. I mean romance that requires a new painting of the world. An appreciative view which accepts everything in our surroundings. Romance is expression of love. That expression can be seen in the simplest of gestures. From an sincere compliment to a heartfelt smile. But no one asked for you to wait on anything. Be the love you crave. Embody the person you think radiates love. And give it out like a bouquet of flowers on a special day in no expectation of return. You'll find giving love just as invigorating, perhaps even more, than receiving expressions of love.

14. It hurts the heart to stray from Allah's path:

    So much of our struggle with our deen is built upon one simple picture. That straight path. The solid line that we conjure up all our efforts to follow. A simple misdirection can lead us into an abyss. And there's only one way back to the path, which is through Allah subhanahu wa ta'laa. The more we sway from the path, the harder and tougher it is to return. What would halt us from paving our own path then? Why does our gut feeling guide us back no matter how far we've lost sight of the right way? It is our heart and our instinct which takes us home. That is why when we choose to practice a hypocritical way of living, we get tired of skipping lines and the heart feels empty and depraved of taqwa and iman. There's is no better feeling in this world than the sweetness of iman and knowing that we are consistent and honest in his outer and inner being.

15. You can only expect things from yourself: 

     Sometimes we get pessimistic and lose hope. Humanity seems to lose its way and our efforts are getting lost and seem to be leading us nowhere close to where we'd like the world to be. That's because we forget that we are the world. Each one of us is the world. So the best we can do to our world is to better ourselves and to set expectations high for our own benefit. No amount of waiting and complaining on our communities to live up to our expectations will provoke any true change. We mustn't forget the power of leading by example. The more we better ourselves and keep humbly to our own faults, the more others feel inclined to follow. And maybe sometimes people won't follow and that's okay. So set your face directly towards your Lord and He will guide whom He wishes. You are not responsible for the faults of others.

16. To be yourself is the ultimate freedom: 

     Sounds like common sense. Ever thought, what is it exactly that makes me me? It's getting increasingly difficult to tell apart what our own choices are from what the world's choices are for us. Who really takes control? Actually you do. Or at least you can if you believe it enough. Are you talking, dressing and acting a certain way to please others and to fall within the appropriate societal expectation of who you should be? Or are you adventurous, wild and unafraid to project your creative energy into the world? I say this; you don't have to lose the kid in you to be "mature". You don't have to conform to the norm and nod your head when everyone else is nodding. You don't have to sit idly and let authority dictate your life. Be yourself. At the end of the day, we are all born to look different and to be different. If you desire to be the same then you've got nothing new to offer the world and you've indirectly expressed your complicity with the status quo.  If you're already so different in the eyes of the people of the world anyway, then go all the way.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” -Albert Camus

18.  Consolidate your suppressed feelings:

   What suppressed feelings?! See what I did there? I am unsure if this is something only a few of us experience. But I believe we tend to play down unfortunate events in our life in the excuse that "someone's got it worse". And perhaps this is true but that doesn't decrease from your hardships. The only way to get back to yourself is to address the elephant in the room which you are continuously putting on the side. Take a break. Listen to your heart and your gut and mute all the sounds coming from your cognition  And if you feel the need to cry then do it. If you feel the need to scream then do it. Let your real emotions surface and do not fear judgement. It's hard enough that the world judges us, why would you make it even more difficult on yourself by letting their judgements and your own, cloud you in your moments with yourself? Take it easy and remind yourself of the good you've done since there's no shame in that. And there is no weakness in letting your feelings take form. It will be your strength later you'll see.

17.  What you store in your thinking space defines you:

     What do you catch yourself thinking about on a regular day? Whatever neurons are firing in our cognitive space are a reflection of what we've stored and what we find significant enough for recall. Even if it is a novel thought, the recollection of it repeatedly in our areas of awareness causes increased reinforcement of that image.  So when we choose to complain and judge ourselves harshly, we reinforce our ideas of incompetence and thus reflect it in our daily lives. On the contrary, when we choose to pump ourselves with praise to nurture our confidence, we feel more ready to take on the world positively. Even our deepest fantasies are a reflection of our realities. Are we fantasizing about probable events which we could shape ourselves? Or are we choosing to repaint our lives in our fantasies to an alternate universe where we are better looking, more clever and attractive for example? I believe that when we choose to shape our fantasies further away from reality or expected reality, we actually impede our shot at growth and thus it becomes counterproductive to do so. Think, I can be the person I fantasize about, and live to that fantasy. What we choose to bring up to our awareness if a true reflection of who we are because it is a private act which we only share with Allah.

19. Vulnerability is the secret to getting more out of life:

      Whenever we seek growth and happiness, we must first provoke change in our current state. That change may not always be so easy to initiate since it may make us nervous and it may put our egos at risk. But no one ever received anything from life being stationary. We must provoke change and we must expect a multitude of outcomes from this change. If you don't try then you've failed. And if you don't ask for something, then no one will hand it down on a silver platter to you. There is no shame in being vulnerable. There is only shame in choosing to miss out on some amazing opportunities for growth and happiness.

20. Planning does not always get you where you want to be:

     We can plan and plan and plan, but Allah is the best of planners. You may have heard that saying before. That's because sometimes we think we've got life figured out. That if we can just put the pieces together in a so and so manner that things will fall where they should. But life will teach you that sometimes they don't. It's about how we choose to bring ourselves back up again and on the track to reality that counts. And the reality is that you're not the one in charge, He is.