19 Ramadan 2018: Falling Short of Our Own Expectations

Have high expectations and hopes for yourself, do your best, but do not debilitate yourself with meeting them – keep aspiring and celebrate the journey – Ramadan Living

I am a firm believer that we need to set high expectations for ourselves, for in these high expectations we see action comparable in hope and energy.

Having said that, what I have experienced is that sadness and de-motivation – very different to the fruits of acceptance – kick in once I realise that either what I set out to do is not going to materialise or it may be more difficult to get there. All of a sudden, these high expectations are a burden and “giving up” often replaces the high hopes and high energy.

I have also experienced this during this blessed month as I set out to do more good, pray more, remember more, learn more, but often, I fall short and often, because of other people, situations or circumstances out of my control. In falling short, I found myself discouraged and not accepting that even in falling short, there is wisdom, nurturing and growth.

I ask god to bless us all with the positivity to set high expectations for ourselves balanced with resilience and patience when we fall short of them, and we will fall short.

 

Photo by XiaoXiao Sun 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

7 Ramadan 2018: Lives Underpinned by Love

No matter what storm you face, you need to know that God loves you. He has not abandoned you. – Franklin Graham

We generally think that god loves us when good things happen in our lives; we feel special and feel blessed. We feel that god loves us and that he must be satisfied with who we are and the good things we strive to do, until … we experience tough moments or despite our best efforts, we fall short in doing good.

Feelings of disappointment start to creep up and we start to feel God does not love us, or has given up on us. With this feeling comes discouragement and negativity. With this feeling comes a lack of appreciation of positive instances and lack of acceptance of negative instances in our lives.

I experienced this the other day when I was not able to wake up for the night meal before starting the next fasting day. Despite taking practical steps to ensure I wake up, I was not able to enjoy a nice meal at a time during the night that is peaceful in one of the most blessed months. My immediate reaction? Complete negativity and feeling of discouragement.

I started to think, maybe acceptance is not only about accepting all that happens to us, but is about accepting that every single small or big thing that happens in our lives is underpinned by god’s love and not disappointment. I believe that this wonderful underpinning is the key to acceptance in all areas of our lives. As long as our intentions are good, every single second in our lives on earth is a single second where god showers us with his love irrespective of how we determine our second to be, good or bad.

May we always see our lives as they are, engrossed in god’s love.

 

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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

25 Ramadan 2017: Patience

Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting – Joyce Meyer

We can’t cover despair without covering patience.

You see, loss of hope means that whenever we face difficulty we get upset and often can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even when we are able to convince ourselves that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we often want it to be closer to us, but that is something we may or may not be able to control, and that is where patience comes in.

Patience, often mistaken as a noun, is actually a verb. In other words, it pertains to an action taken and not just a mere description.

As an action, patience is about complementing the positivity that comes with seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with an internal dialogue that keeps talking of hope and controlling the outer tongue from complaining about the difficulty one is facing.

Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that we don’t speak about our difficulties with others we trust or are more knowledgeable than we are in order to learn more about what we can do to hasten the time of difficulty, I am talking about insistent complaining that neither produces action nor produces hope.

I ask god on this blessed day and night to give us the strength to be patient in bad times as we await relief and in good times as we may not recognize the goodness that befalls us.

Speaking of this blessed day and night, I remind myself first and others that these are the last five or four nights of this blessed month where good deeds are multiplied and goals are set for the next year … let us all make them count!

Let each of us, fasting or not, be the positive news in the world!

 

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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.

 

 

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23 Ramadan 2017: Just when we thought

There used to be days that I thought I was okay, or at least that I was going to be. We’d be hanging out somewhere and everything would just fit right and I would think ‘it will be okay if it can just be like this forever’ but of course nothing can ever stay just how it is forever. – Nina LaCour

Can you relate to today’s quote? I certainly can.

Just when we think we can handle something challenging, something happens that blatantly shouts NOOOOOOOO.

As nothin in our lives are coincidental, I also happen to come across a talk about sadness blending it component so faith as well … and these are the tips that I thought I would share in this post for your benefit.

  1. Know that sadness will happen and even when good things happen, tough challenges will come up for this is life … life is a series of ups and downs … a series of thankfulness and patience … a series of joy and sadness … don’t be surprised
  2. Accept sadness, don’t fight it and just admit to yourself that you are sad and that is a right you have and let it be.
  3. Don’t befriend sadness even it is part of life. Move towards what is opposite to sadness … positive friends, positive environments, positive clothing, positive actions trying to get out of the “sad” situation
  4. Wait until the end … don’t assume the story has ended there especially when you have been unfairly treated or wronged as the root of your sadness. What goes around comes around even if we are not able to see it.

Life is full of sad moments … no one has been spared of sad moments, the key is to not befriend it, not complain about it, not to let it get into your heart.

Love life, live right and do good … and even if you think you are OK and sadness comes around again, it is OK … it is for a good reason.

You will be fine … I promise because god has promised we will be OK if our hearts are in a state of goodness.

 

 

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15 Ramadan 2017: Control

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. – Brian Tracy

I spoke about destiny in an earlier post, in a larger sense, it is about letting go of events and matters in our lives that we cannot control.

Whether it is a child who is adamant about disrespecting, or a person determined to bring negativity to others, or natural disasters or acts of war, or even a bankrupted employer, these are all matters that we cannot control whatsoever.

What we can control however, is how we respond to them and more specifically, responding assertively to events out of our reach or influence.

The first step is to never blame oneself.

The second is to to recognize that just because a certain undesirable event is happening,  it does not mean that I am a victim of it without any say in how I can reduce its impact on myself and my loved ones.

The third step is to seek the learning and the change that is meant to happen within me as a result of me experiencing or witnessing this event for nothing is by chance.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

 

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13 Ramadan 2017: Despair, Criticism and Failure

Do not let arrogance go to your head and despair to your heart; do not let compliments go to your head and criticisms to your heart; do not let success go to your head and failure to your heart.― Roy T. Bennett

What I liked about this quote is how it ultimately presents three key facts when it comes to despair.

The first is that despair is set in the heart. This explains why it is more challenging to let go of the negative feelings that come with despair for if it was rationality, we could logically limit its’ effects on our lives.

The second is that criticisms often negatively affect our hearts leading to despair even if they are neither justified nor warranting feelings of despair in our lives.

The third is that we sometimes take failure so seriously, it affects the state of our hearts in feelings of loss, and despair sets in.

So while criticism and failure does give us feelings of sadness and disappointment, maybe engaging our rationality is a way through to prevent these feelings from taking over our hearts and setting us in on a path of despair.

 

 

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11 Ramadan 2017: Just one more step

Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. ― Napoleon Hill

Feelings of despair tend to initially come when we struggle or fail to achieve our goals and dreams. This then escalates to other areas of our life, from family, to friends, to materials we own and to our own inner spirit.

So, what if we stopped “despair” in its tracks before it escalates?

Part of it maybe is managing our own expectations and adjusting our state of mind on what failure actually means. The other part may be pushing ourselves just a bit more beyond the initial signs of failure, which is not easily done and takes a good support system to help one do that.

In essence, can we stop despair in its tracks before it materialises? I think we can.

 

 

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