I like this story because it reminds me of how short life is, and it puts things in perspective.
If I live my life thinking I’m going to be here forever (or for a looong time), I find myself getting stressed out very easily. Why? Because I’m either running after new things or holding on to other things that by nature are transient. So when it slips from my hands, I get frustrated.
But when I accept myself as a traveler who’s in this world for a short time, I’m more relaxed. Things come and go in my life. I can play with them without the need to get attached and let it go when the time comes.
Life is short. Enjoy this journey. And I’ll see you soon. If not in this world, definitely in the next! 🙂
“O Ali, three men will stand under the shade of the (Divine) Throne on the Day of Resurrection.
They are: the man who likes for his friend whatever he likes for himself,
the man who pauses before taking any action to reflect whether it pleases or displeases God,
and the man doesn’t find fault in others until he overcomes that fault in himself. It is quite sufficient for a man to be engaged with himself.”
A man asked for words by which Allah may benefit him. Prophet Muhammed said: “Remember death repeatedly. This will save you from longing for the worldly pleasures. Show gratitude frequently and this will increase his Mercy upon you. Pray to Allah (SWT) so regularly, because you do not know in which time Allah (SWT) will respond for your prayer. Beware of tyranny, for Allah (SWT) has ordained that HE will support those whom are oppressed.”
The Prophet (s) said, ‘The scriptures of Prophet Abraham (a) contain the following: ‘…the rational man, as long as he is of sound reason, must put aside several hours during the day – an hour for conversing with his Lord, an hour for [self-scrutiny and] accounting for himself, an hour to ponder over Allah’s favors bestowed upon him, and an hour to spend on his own lawful pleasures, for this one hour will be an aid to him in fulfilling his other hours, as well as a time to recuperate and relax.’
If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that refer it to the judgement of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced. ~ Imam Ali (a)
“I wish I had him / her as my friend… then I’d be really happy. ”
“I wish I was famous, then I’d really be happy.”
“I wish was making enough money… then I’d be happy.”
“I wish… I wish.. I wish…”
Have you ever felt this way?
We spend our lives running after things or people, hoping they will make us happy. But as soon as we get what we want, the happiness fizzles away & we start running after the next shiny object.
Finding happiness in material things is like fighting illness with pain killers. The effect is superficial and rather short term.
It’s great to be Happy and to experience this high. But know that this kind of happiness is like a wave. It comes. And it goes.
What we should be really striving for, is to Be Content.
What is the difference between Contentment and Happiness?
If you chase happiness, it will always be one step ahead of you. If you chase contentment, there is nowhere to run.
While happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, I look at Contentment as a way of life.
Contentment is a state of constant well-being despite the ups & downs we face. Life is challenging and at times it can throw us off balance. By practicing contentment, we find the strength to remain at peace no matter what.
How to be Content? 2 Lessons from a Sufi Comic
Two lessons I learned from the quote in the above comic:
1. Be Grateful
Be Grateful to God for what He has given.
There are so many things to be grateful about that we take for granted. Our family, friends, our health, the food that we eat, the list goes on and on!
Often the simplicity of practicing gratitude deceives you into thinking that it’s not worth your time. That its just placebo! But trust me, this works.
It’s an act of faith and can sometimes feel ineffective, especially when you are exasperated. But the more I embrace gratitude, the better my life becomes.
When we are grateful for what we have, it focuses our attention on what is right in our lives. Not only do we become content, it also helps us maintain a positive perspective when we face challenges.
2. Avoid Complaining All the Time
There’s a tendency in society to think that if you’re complaining all the time, you must be “smart”. Because if you’re complaining you’re implying you know how to fix the world’s problems or that you’re somehow better than others.
But complaining only creates more unhappiness not only for you, but also for those around you.
Now I’m not saying that you should smile all the time, and pretend everything is OK when it’s not. That’s unreal.
But before you complain, ask yourself “Why am I complaining?” Is it to validate myself? Or is it because there’s a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
Instead of complaining, try to be constructive in your criticism. Look at the world from the point of view of the other person. Listen well. Put forth your needs. Try solving the problem together.
In most cases this will lead to a solution.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking “I wish I had so and so… then I’ll be happy.” Gently remind yourself, that you are responsible for your own happiness. And that it doesn’t need to depend on “being famous”, “making more money” or anything external.
What you are really looking for is to be content. And once you realize contentment comes from within, you don’t need to wait any longer. You can be content here & now.