14 Ramadan 2018: Friends

Friendship is when people know all about you but like you anyway – Unknown

One of the greatest treasures that has been given to me are my friends. Some close, some far. Some family, some strangers. Some extreme givers, some more balanced.

I refer to them as treasures because like treasure, they are difficult to find, and when found, they are never taken for granted.

My friends have reminded me of god when I fell prey to life’s little nuisances. My friends have given me comfort when I felt like I could be the only one going through a tough time. My friends pitched in, in their own special

way, when I had no one else to have my back.

Overall I am thankful for my friends, my friends are means through which acceptance, in all its forms, materialises.

May god bless them, and all your friends, in this blessed month.

Photo by Nick Abrams on unsplash

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12 Ramadan 2018: Opportunity vs. Opportunism

I am an opportunist. When opportunities come, and I see them serving my grander goals in life, I take them. – Evangeline Lilly

In accepting our destiny and our lives … we must accept that the opportunities that come our way are the means through which we live our lives everyday as best as we can. However small the opportunity, if it benefits us, we must take it with an open heart accepting that there is underlying goodness.

Having said that, and what I have come to recognise very recently, is the concept of opportunism where we not only take up opportunities that come our way, but we see relationships and exchanges, especially with other people, as an existing or future opportunity.

The problem with this concept is that while it brings many benefits, it often makes people feel either used or empowers an equally committed opportunist keeping relationships at a superficial level. Some may not see anything wrong with that, the problem is that one will at some point face tough times in life and it is only those who do not see us as a “benefit” who will be by our side in what could possibly be the last days of our lives.

I say go for opportunity and let go of opportunism and if some of your friends or family are opportunists, recognise it and limit the effort you put in these relationships to the extent to which you can help as and when you can. Instead, I want to focus on the relationships that do matter that are not directly underpinned by benefits but are often superbly beneficial, both in life and after-life.

These relationships help make my life matter.

I don’t know what sort of world she will live in and I have no fixed opinions concerning how she should live in it. I only know that if she does not come to value what is true above what is useful, it will make little difference whether she lives at all. – Cormac McCarthy

So how do you recognise an opportunist?

  • They are highly communicative when they have a need
  • You don’t know much about their lives no matter how close you get
  • Often stay on the fence when it comes to sticky situations you are involved in
  • Often resistant to feedback or suggestions about how they live their lives
  • They don’t often share information and generally have a low level of altruism

The more important question then becomes, am I an opportunist?

Photo by Matt Sclarandis on Unsplash

8 Ramadan 2018: Accepting Ourselves

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. – C.G. Jung

We can’t talk about acceptance and not look inward.

I believe in continuous and never-ending self-improvement, however, what I have come to discover in the past year is that the negative aspects in our lives are but manifestations of not accepting oneself and making continuous and never-ending self-improvement focused on making our surroundings more conducive for who we are.

Let me explain.

The lazy teenager is not lazy, they are not aware of, and not embracing, the unique strengths they have and setting out to bring those out as opposed to their weaknesses.

The rude neighbour next door is not rude, she just does not know how to assert her needs for a comfortable and clean building as others leave their garbage in the hallway or play loud music late at night.

The quiet and shy colleague is not arrogant, he just values introspection and has a difficult time pursuing and participating in small talk.

So in these three examples, more often than not, the teenager, neighbour and colleague all know what others think of them, and often adopt one of two approaches; they either enter into a never-ending struggle to be someone they are not, or embrace who they are and aggressively challenge the whole world around them. In both cases, these are manifestations of not accepting oneself.

In this post, I ask god to give us the strength and means to recognise and understand who we are, accept it, and then focus on a never-ending and continuous journey of improving our surroundings to give the best of ourselves to the world around us.

 

Photo by abigail low on Unsplash

 

21 Ramadan 2017: Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. – Lewis B. Smedes

The definition of despair is the loss of hope and confidence. Despair is about pain, melancholy and sorrow.

One of the reasons of despair is people … people who hurt. People who abandon. People who disappoint. And the only way around that is to forgive and make peace with others.

Peace with others is looking back at what disappointed us and especially when the person in question is not directly hurtful, blame it on circumstances and the will of god.

Peace with others is about accepting people as they are, faults and all and not pick on what they did, said or didn’t say or didn’t do, just work around them, avoid putting them in a situation to hurt you and accept that we may not all like each other but we can accept each other.

Peace with others is recognizing those who are directly hurtful and avoid situations where we depend on them for anything and use words of respect and goodness and power of silence when dealing with them.

Peace with others is shifting the focus from others to ourselves and being generous with others in terms of sharing of knowledge, goodness and spreading of positivity.

May we find the strength within us to forgive others and not pick on what people do and don’t do and just walk on earth with peace in our hearts full of patience and mercy on all.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

20 Ramadan 2016: Here we go …

A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.― Charles Dickens

RLSo we are in the last 10 days (or 9) of this beautiful month and parting is such sweet sorrow.

In preparation for the last stretch, as we hope to experience and see more of god’s mercy, love and generosity, one thing is important – purification of the heart.

Purification is about removing any ill feelings, negative associations, unnecessary judgements, and nagging suspicions about others in our hearts.

This purification is key to be fully aware and present in moments of blessings and moments of forgiveness and light.

May god open our hearts and keep us light as we embrace god’s presence and god’s blessings on us, our families and all of you humanity.

 

Image courtesy of Toa55 / freedigitalphotos.net

7 Ramadan 2016: Dealing with people … Let it go

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.-Deborah Reber

RLDefinitely … there is no happiness unless I let go of the small stuff and just focus on my own behavior, goals and dreams.

What good is picking at what people do or say all the time? People pick on themselves and put themselves under enough pressure already.

From experience, picking on what people say or do will only consume one’s valuable time on something that is not only out of our control but also meaningless for us.

Yes, people say silly things … they hurt our feelings … and can be narrow minded, ignorant and simply mean … but other than our ego, what happens as a result?

If our boundaries have been crossed, we should speak up then and there and then let it go.

If our boundaries may have been crossed but could be attributed to anger, mood or ignorance, I believe that the best thing to do is to let it go.

Let us not let these petty things disrupt our path to our dreams and goals.

 

 

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse / freedigitalphotos.net

 

27 Ramadan 2015: Don’t be afraid of …

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice. ― Brené Brown

R27

… boundaries.

Should we have them? Do we need them? Will they hurt us now? Will they hurt us in the afterlife?

I wouldn’t say my mom was excellent with boundaries, but I wouldn’t say she didn’t have any either. She seemed to maintain an interesting balance – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

What I learned from her however is that not setting any boundaries is not good. Not setting any boundaries comes down to fear, fear that the person who might be sometimes rightfully kept on the “other side of the fence”, will not accept it and will even go out of their way to hurt us in one way or another, directly or indirectly.

It is interesting to note however that those who seem to have many many boudanries set, or what I call, harsh inflexible boundaries set, are equally afraid of getting hurt or losing out.

So what works?

Like all things, it is balance.

There are boudanries that matter, and there are those that don’t.

For matters that may be harmful and involve yourself or your family, there should be a clear and consistent application of boundaries with active reflection and strength to ward off fears that may or may not be founded.

If these fears are founded, thank god you picked them up. If these fears are unfounded, thank god you did something about boundaries that will prevent future feelings of resentment, isolation and potentially negative behavior and mistrust towards others.

For matters that benefit ourselves or others … boundary-less. I would also ask myself why I would want to set boundaries in matters that bring benefits to many?

As we approach the last couple of days of this blessed month, may god make us witness more and more of them in our future, a big lesson that my mother’s life taught me is that …

Boundaries are essential.

When none are set, resentment sets in.

When too many are set, injustice towards others sets in. 

Set them in matters, specific to you and your family, that may be hurtful or harmful.

Let go of all boundaries in matters that benefit yourself and others.

 

Image courtesy of twobee / freedigitalphotos.net

13 Ramadan 2015: Gift to Others

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. ― Amy Carmichael

R13

Without exaggeration, there isn’t a day that passes by since my mom’s passing that I don’t use or see something my mom gave me. Boy, did she ever gift.

She gifted me, my family, her family, her friends, her extended relatives, even strangers.

She spent money on others as if she did not worry about money and she loved gifting, small and big gifts, young and old.

If she visited someone, she had something with her.

If she travelled, she bought something small for herself, her family, her neighbors.

If she travelled somewhere, she bought something small for people she expected to see, irrespective if confirmed or not.

If she heard of someone’s milestone celebration be it wedding, new born, graduation, etc… she bought a gift.

She just kept gifting.

This was one of those areas in her life that I never asked her about because of how happy she was doing it … I must admit, its impact was something I did not expect.

People, she did not even live with in the same country, kept telling me how they can’t believe how much she kept popping up in their minds as they see and use things she gifted them.

Interestingly, she also accepted gifts with generosity and kindness. If anyone gave her anything, she accepted with open arms and heart for as a friend once told me, generosity is not only about giving to others, but it is, more importantly, allowing and accepting giving from others.

What my mom taught me is that …

gifting from the heart touches people

and as our prophet said,

gift each other، to love one another.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

11 Ramadan 2015: It doesn’t matter if they don’t, you do

Don’t wait for other people to be loving, giving, compassionate, grateful, forgiving, generous, or friendly … lead the way! – Steve Maraboli

Path

What a tough thing to do … doing for others irrespective if they do for you.

I have to admit, it was often a point of argument between my mom and I as she always believed that we always had to do the right thing be it the more ‘compassionate’ thing, or the more ‘generous’ thing, or the more ‘friendly’ thing, or the more ‘respectful’ thing, etc… we simply had to do it.

I guess what she was trying to say is that irrespective of what people do, we are accounted for what we do and even if people do not appreciate or reciprocate, we must always do the right thing.

I still think it is tough, especially as …

pride, hurt, confusion, and ‘shock’ often kick in and talk us out of doing the more generous, friendly, respectful or compassionate thing.

So through reflections following my mom’s death, I realized that the best strategy is to have zero expectations from others and all expectations from ourselves within the boundaries of our capabilities, abilities and responsibilities. Then, even if we don’t do the more generous, friendly, respectful or compassionate thing, we know that it was beyond our boundaries of capability, ability and responsibility, with a clear conscious.

The *magical* thing is that as soon as I decided to have zero expectations, I followed my heart more clearly, found the more generous, friendly, respectful or compassionate thing easier to do and more importantly, it limited the pride, hurt, confusion, and ‘shock’ that stands in the way.

So this Ramadan, my mom taught me to …

have ‘zero expectations’.

 

 

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7 Ramadan 2014: Stories

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman

R6

Today happened to be a day full of stories, not like any other day isn’t like that anyway.

Whether it is in a person’s sickness, a friend’s accomplishment, an acquaintance’s awakening … whether it is in happiness or in sorrow, there is always a story. A story to be told, a story to be heard, a story to be reflected upon and to be shared with the rest of the world. I often wonder whether or not people could one day give up reading books, and the more I reflect, the more I realize that that will only happen when the world runs out of stories of human triumph and suffering and that … would not come unless there was only one person left on this planet who did not have someone else to share their story with.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

 

Interestingly, and more relevant to this blessed month, the Quran and all holy books are full of wonderful stories to be read and reflected upon for  …

“We’re all stories, in the end.” – Steven Moffat

 

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