18 Ramadan 2018: The Art of Waiting

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. – Joyce Meyer

Waiting in life is inevitable. No matter how powerful or important one person is, we are always waiting ….

… for others;

… in lines;

… for things;

… for decisions;

… for storms;

… for reactions; etc.

It can be so frustrating especially when waiting involves interconnected decisions that hinge upon each other. However, while we try our best to reduce “wait times” and accept those that we cannot do anything about, the key is, as the quote above nicely points to, a positive attitude free of negative thoughts and assumptions that make waiting even tougher to handle.

Waiting does not necessarily amount to rejection, or being ignored or disrespected. Waiting is simply waiting for the right moment that god intends for us to uncover that which remains a mystery and god only delays things for good reasons that either help us appreciate that we are waiting for or prepare us for that which is about to be uncovered.

May god make waiting easy for us and may god, during this blessed month, help us see waiting for what it is, a journey to the right moment, the right place, and the right person.

Photo by Ethan Hu on unsplash

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15 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you didn’t have long to live?

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. – Steve Jobs

News of the death of a very young man in his 20s became viral in the last few days. It wasn’t his death as much as his reaction to death that touched people as he was diagnosed with Cancer two years prior when he publicly recorded an interview to talk about who he was before the diagnosis and what / who he was after the diagnosis.

We all have family, friends or even ourselves, who have had to face news about our eminent death due to disease. It is not an easy situation and although we all know that death is always around the corner and that we can never know when our time comes, something jolts you when you hear an “estimate” … of course these estimates are always wrong.

So the point of this post, with all honesty, what would you do if you were told you had x months to live? Would you seek avenues to cheat the disease? Would you just spend it with family? Would you travel the world? Would you volunteer? What do you really think you would do?

Then I would probably ask myself if that is the way I would want to spend my last days and work on making it my present reality, i.e. a life worth living and focusing on what Steve Jobs quotes as “what is truly important“.

Photo by Val Vesa on unsplash

10 Ramadan 2018: Acceptance is First

Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it … This will miraculously transform your whole life – Eckhart Tolle

Acceptance may not necessarily point to an end state, but it could also be the starting state when dealing with hardship.

We actually have a similar concept in our faith where when one faces a calamity or receives bad news or is shocked with an unexpected hardship, he or she must first say that “we all belong to god and to him we shall return” and then deal with the pain that comes with it. The faster someone says this, the greater the chances are that he or she will be able to deal with the hardship, in other words, they accept the hardship first and then move accordingly to resolve related issues.

Imagine the opposite case when one first gets shocked, gets sad, gets confused and tries hard to deal with the hardship and to eventually accept it. Much energy is wasted on something that is what it is, so one might as well accept it first and then calmly think about what needs to be done to ease it and hopefully resolve it.

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

9 Ramadan 2018: Just Not Meant to Be

I’m a great believer in the idea that if it’s meant to be, it will be. – Ricky Whittle

We often don’t have a problem with accepting the positive unintended or intended goals we accomplish. It becomes a bit more tricky when trying to accept the intended goals we don’t accomplish.

Yes, we can analyse and understand what went wrong. We can re-assess our path and aim for a slightly different approach, but during that journey, we are often restless, angry, and annoyed, trying to understand why it didn’t work out.

What I found was that while this analysis makes us grow, it is important to approach it with peace deep in our hearts and the only way this can be accomplished is by admitting that some things are just not meant to be.

I have been two days late on my 9 Ramadan post, and while I worked on it night and day, I was getting restless, angry and annoyed as I just could not publish it. No matter what I did, reviewing words, attaching a different image, changing the quote, it just would not get done and nothing I did gave me peace. It was a post on accepting others and it just didn’t speak to what I honestly had in my heart, so I simply decided to delete the draft and quickly realised that it was just not meant to be.

What was meant to be however, as simple as it sounds, is the associated learning that I wanted to share with you.

While I am not advocating that we give up on our dreams and goals, what I am saying is that we need to simply decide to accept that it may not materialise the way we expect, at a specific point in time, it just might not be meant to be for now.

On this blessed day … what I know for sure is that I am meant to share with you what you are reading right now … this, was meant to be.

Photo by William Topa on Unsplash

5 Ramadan 2018: Fear

The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I don’t believe there was a single ramadan, in Ramadan Living’s history, where I did not dedicate a post to fear. I don’t do it because I plan it that way, I do it because it always comes up, directly or indirectly, and I am not surprised.

Fear can be legitimate. Without fear, we don’t know how to make wise choices in protecting ourselves, our rights, our safety, our families and loved ones. However, fear can also be at the root of why we don’t embrace acceptance often based on an illegitimate fear of the future.

It is illegitimate because it is often negative and perceived to be done onto us in the future and not within our control. As a scholar once said, the fear of disease, is a worse disease. The fear of poverty, is poverty in itself. The fear of what people could do to you is far greater than what they can possibly do. The fear of death, is death itself.

This illegitimate fear robs us of happiness and acceptance of where we are today. This illegitimate fear robs us of the opportunity to consciously take steps and make practical decisions protecting ourselves from the negatives that might materialise if these things do happen in the future, i.e. a legitimate fear. More importantly, these illegitimate fears prevent us from embracing opportunities that come our way while we are focused on things that may or may not happen.

A saying I always liked, “we shall cross that bridge when we get there” … may god give us the ability to recognise illegitimate fears and be strong when we approach “that bridge”.

For now … just breathe.

Photo by Benjamin on Unsplash

4 Ramadan 2018: The Two Tales of Acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it – Michael J. Fox

Acceptance may be seen as a way of giving up, but I believe that acceptance is an active verb and state of being that one consciously decides to be in. The difference? Acceptance brings calmness and serenity, surrender brings resentment.

I always liked the way Henry Cloud and John Townsend spoke about boundaries and how not asserting them is signaled through feelings of resentment; a negative gut feel generating emotions of anger, sadness, bitterness, and confusion.

Acceptance that generates these feelings is the result of either not asserting one’s, or in the opposite sense crossing another’s, boundaries. Acceptance in this case is not acceptance at all and action is often needed to rectify underlying issues.

As a friend of mine reminded me today, we are not meant to be unhappy, and happiness comes from accepting that which is meant to be accepted and striving, calmly, towards changing it in a way that brings goodness to self and others.

So when is acceptance right? When it generates feelings of peace and comfort, openness and courage … now that is a state worth being in.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

2 Ramadan 2018: Trying too hard

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself ― Leo Tolstoy

In the past year, I have learned that part of acceptance is realising that the only thing that one can truly change is oneself.

While I can genuinely try to change my surrounding reality when maneuvering through the interesting challenges of life, I figured that it was more worth while to think about the options I had within my surrounding reality and work with them instead of holding expectations of change in others and what I now label as “trying too hard”.

So instead of asking how I can change a person or group of people in a particular task, place or situation, I now try to shift my view to what my role is, and related options are, in the change I seek in the task, place or situation that is bothering me.

Having said that, and in a lot of cases, change in others is key to the change in task, place or situation, and this is where acceptance and patience would be more befitting especially when the task, place or situation have a more significant purpose and benefit.

I ask god to give us the ability to shift our view from others to ourselves.

Photo by Joe Beck on Unsplash

27 Ramadan 2017: A Source of Despair from Within (2 of 2)

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself. ― Harvey Fierstein

As a follow-on to my previous post about sources of despair that are form within, the second one is not being who you are.

By not being who you are, you are denying yourself tasks that you feel closely align with your strengths. By not being who you are, you are denying yourself a long term dream and goal that is befitting to how you are meant to make an impact in the limited time you have on earth. By not being who you are, you are not receiving words of encouragement and support from those who truly care about your well-being and success.

This causes one to despair because one often finds themselves uncomfortable and restless for reasons that may not be clear leading to underachievement, productivity and personal satisfaction.

So, be who you are. Speak up. Hang out with people who are giving. Dream big and dream far.

In whatever job or situation you are in, actively work on moving into something that more closely aligns with your god-given strengths and don’t let external factors or circumstances make you give up on that. These circumstances may delay your plans, but don’t give up on them!

 

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

26 Ramadan 2017: A Source of Despair from Within (1 of 2)

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. ― Roy Disney

It is easier to naturally fall back onto an external reason as to why we despair, and we often forget that sometimes it is from within.

Besides generally engaging in negative internal dialogue leading to despair, there are two other internal sources of despair, one of which is not sticking to your values when making decisions or when faced with various questions and challenges in life.

Why does it lead to despair?

Because not sticking to your values means that you are making a decision you don’t want to make, and that leads to despair as you live out a decision you did not want.

However, while we aim to stay strong and stick to our values, the reality is that we may slip sometimes, so how can we avoid despair?

By remembering that even our wrong decisions happen for a reason and besides working hard to reverse such decisions or related consequences, what we experience is in our destiny and will eventually make us better people.

We learn, and we move on.

Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place.― Mandy Hale

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

24 Ramadan 2017: Don’t Wait … Just Start

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. – George Herbert

How many times have we found ourselves within a very busy period of time at work or in life with parents or with children or with limited time or money to actually do what we want. In what we want, I am talking about things that our hearts and minds literally shout for within ourselves but we try to ignore them because we “can’t” and we don’t see a “way”.

The truth is, we think we won’t be busy tomorrow and we can get started then or we think our parents or kids will not need much of our time tomorrow or we will have more money and and and. That might be true but the truth is that these are all priorities in our lives and will not stop or go away.

Our parents, our children, our work, our money and any other resources or blessings god has given to us, they are all a priority and we must be committed to them, but there is a calling and one must respond to that calling without delay with whatever we have access to today.

We just have to start and see where it takes us from there without any expectations.

This post is a call to recognize, listen and respond to the calling, you never know, maybe the calling is today because it is critical I take action today for success tomorrow as opposed to delaying things.

Start moving … even if slowly, start, you will always have an excuse, might as well start today.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net