Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Escape The Bottomless Pit

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Aims and goals are curious things. They tell us that we want to do more and/or do better. A sort of sign that is pointing to our search for increase or betterment. I wonder, are these pursuits seeking to fill an empty space or adorn what is already wholesome?

I don’t know about you, but I find that many of us are operating from a place of scarcity; I don’t have enough. I don’t have enough money, beauty, confidence etc or simply that I don’t have money, own home, children etc.  It is like we are in this constant struggle to fill a bottomless pit. Because when is enough enough? For measureable things it would help to actually sit down and decide on the measure and set the target aimed for. How much money do you actually need?

It is a bit more challenging when we are talking about things that we cannot measure in amount, volume, area etc. You’d have to have a set of criteria that you’ll know you’ve achieved when you meet them. What are your criteria for beauty? Are you talking about improved appearance to others e.g. sounding confident and well spoken? Or do you see yourself radiant by smiling more? Or would you feel beautiful when you are acting in a kind manner?

When thinking about the different criteria, it is not easy to exclude other people’s expectations. Society has an influence, good or bad, and thus what society deems desirable will find its way towards the top of our priorities.  I found this article by Gretchen Rubin, ‘Old habits die hard. Here’s how to change your life in 2017’ informative in highlighting that our response to expectations affects our habit changing ability. The article includes a quiz; which ‘type’ are you?

As you reflect on your goals going forwards, I invite you to do the following:

1.Operate from a place of abundance. Allah has blessed us with so much already, { So which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?} Quran 55:38. Even what we perceive as hardships are blessings to keep our hearts attached to him; cleanse us from our sins in this life and/or prepare us for a future responsibility. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read on embarking to plan for the next stage of your life, be it New Year’s resolutions or at a life turning point or feeling like it’s time for a change, was to first write a list of 20 things you are grateful for in your life. A simple shift in mindset, that’s all that is needed, {And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you} Quran 14:7.

2.Be conscious of Allah, ask him to keep your intentions true to Him and to guide you to what is best in this life and the after. Remember that the acceptance and reward of good deeds is dependent on the intention behind them; the Prophet peace be upon him said: “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended” agreed upon. If you read Gretchen Rubin and foudn that you identify with the ‘Obliger’ type, for example, check that the outer expectations are permissible and lead you to the pleasure of Allah. I would say this is prompt to choose your close company wisely so they are your aid towards achieving the good of this life and after. The Prophet peace be upon him told us: Each of you is a mirror for his brother. If he sees something bad, let him remove it for him.” reported by At-Tirmidhi.

3.And reflect a bit more… Take the time to not just review your plans but also pause and really notice what’s happening around you, for Allah has placed signs everywhere, and notice what’s happening inside you. Much of the change is and its seeds sprout from within. Allah asks in the Quran: {And He shows you His signs. So which of the signs of Allah do you deny?} 40:81.

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