The Skills You Gain From Experiencing Hardship

I haven’t been able to post in the past 2 weeks because Uni got the better of me. Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced tremendous discomfort or stress at some point in the past few months. In today’s post, I’d like to talk about the skills that I’ve developed because of that.

This will relate to my previous post on breathing, where I tried to encourage a mindfulness technique for maintaining calm. This time, it’s more about approaching difficulties with a growth mindset. Here are 5 key points that I’ve taken away from experiencing discomfort.

  1. Faith
  2. Resilience
  3. Patience
  4. Compromise
  5. Gratitude

Faith

Let’s start with Faith. Your fundamental beliefs and your values define the way you view the world. You need to have a sense of purpose, a why, otherwise you won’t understand the reason behind the suffering.

I’m grateful to be a Muslim, as Islam has shaped the way I engage with difficulties and finding a sense of purpose. The mindset and outlook I have towards my life experiences are largely shaped by my faith.

You’ve got to trust in the process. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Keep this beautiful quote in mind:

“What’s meant for you will never miss you, what misses you was never meant for you.”

When you start accepting how much is out of your control, it brings a sense of calmness. Focus on what you can do. Focus on your perception. This brings me to the next point, resilience.

Resilience

I absolutely love the concept of resilience because it resonates with everything that I do. It’s about constantly trying your best, regardless of the setbacks and hardship you face.

It’s also important to understand that our failures are ultimately our greatest teachers. When we decide to face those fears and tackle the problems head on, we start to develop resilience.

It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to blame others. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. It’s easy to throw a pity party. But that’s not what leads to growth. That’s not what helps you succeed. That’s not what will benefit you in the long run.

Next time you experience something profoundly difficult or painful, remember how much it’s going to help you grow. Every day is just a set of new problems. It’s doesn’t get any easier, you just get better at solving it.

Patience

Being patient is another crucial skill you’ll need throughout your life. It’s something you will encounter in every single task you experience. Being patient is about training your mind to accept the inevitable. To slow down. To stay calm. To remain level-headed.

You need to be patient with the process. You can’t rush through and expect everything to work out. Life is more of a marathon than a sprint. You need to pace yourself and focus on your breath work.

Don’t get worked up on things that are out of your control. Focus on what you can do. Take it easy dude, you got this. Let’s see how adaptation plays a role in all this.

Compromise

Things almost always never go according to plan. You’ll realize that sooner or later. Compromising isn’t about lowering your standards. It’s about accepting that you have to change your plan when things hits the fan.

This is generally a combination of the previous points. With faith, resilience and patience, you can learn to rapidly adapt to unexpected challenges. Think about how many times things took longer than they should’ve? If you account for contingencies and plan for the worst-case scenario, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.

Gratitude

Easily the most important skill (or value) to gain. If you view things from a lens of gratitude, everything is there to help you grow. You start appreciating the little things in life a lot more too. You realize how much you take for granted on a daily basis; be it your time, energy, wealth or health.

When you experience difficulty of any sort, focus on what’s going well in your life. I know this can be particularly challenging, especially when sprawling into negativity is so much easier. But really think about how blessed you truly are. Think about all that you’ve managed to gain or retain during the challenging time.

You’re gaining life skills. You’re more resilient. You’re more patient. You’re learning to work hard. You’re still breathing. You still have food to eat. You have access to the internet (and therefore, to education). You have access to electricity. To shelter. To warmth. To clean water.

Don’t ever forget about everything that you do have when things start getting tough.

It’s critical to establish honest communication with yourself (and those who are important to you). If you’re clear about what’s going well and what isn’t, you’ll have a better idea of how to prepare. You’ll also be able to articulate how you’re feeling to those around you; allowing them to assist you where possible.

This post just covers a few simple points to think about next time you experience something difficult. As I already said, life is just a process of solving problems; every day there’s going to be a new challenge.

Trust the process and have faith. Understand how this all builds up your resilience. You’ve got to remain patient and stay level-headed. You need to learn to adapt and overcome. You need to focus on what you have and be thankful. Failure is just a stepping stone to success. You got this!

Why is Ramadan so important?

Have you ever wondered why Ramadan was such an important aspect of Islam? This post will focus on shedding some light to those who are curious about this blessed month. It will also serve as a reminder to those of you who are familiar with Islamic knowledge.

I’ll briefly discuss the 5 pillars of Islam, the revelation of the Quran, the reason why Muslims fast, how this month coincides with a crisis and why we try our best to revive our spirituality.

[This is based on my understanding and the research that I have done. Please consult literature or a scholar for more detailed and authentic interpretations.]

Ramadan is the 4th Pillar of Islam

Islam is constructed on the 5 pillars shown below. Each have a significant contribution to one’s faith and need to be consistently adhered to. The 1st pillar is the Shahadah, which is professing that there’s ‘No God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger’. It’s considered the foundation of Islam, because everything builds upon that testimony.

The 2nd pillar is Salaah (prayer), which is expected to be performed 5 times a day. This consistency in prayer has always been remarkable to me, as it truly keeps the 1st pillar in place and reminds me of my true purpose in life. It forms a beautiful structure to the day and allows us to frequently remember God.

The 3rd pillar is Zakaat, which is a form of giving charity. This needs to be performed annually, where we’re expected to give 2.5% of our monetary wealth to those who are less fortunate (There are more specifications to this, I’m merely giving an overview). This is such a beautiful pillar because it indicates that giving to others and being considerate is part of the religion.

The 4th pillar will be my focus today; fasting the month of Ramadan. It is the 9th month of the Hijri calendar, where we’re expected to abstain from food and drink for 29 or 30 days every year (depending on the sighting of the new moon). There’s more to it than just the abstinence of food and drink however, which I’ll also discuss.

The final pillar is Hajj; the pilgrimage to Makkah. There are roughly 2 million pilgrims on average who embark on this journey every year. This year will be the first time in history where the pilgrimage would be extremely restricted, possibly even cancelled.

The Revelation of the Quran

One of the most interesting aspects of Ramadan is that it’s the month in which the Quran was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was 40 years old when he was blessed with prophet-hood and when the angel Jibreel first revealed to him the Holy text sent by Allah. It was a constant stream of verses that spanned 23 years, which started around the year 609 CE.

The Quran contains timeless wisdom and is memorized by Muslims all over the world. It is what we recite during prayer and it has remain unscathed since it was revealed (Nothing has been edited). It’s as relevant to us today as it was when it was sent over 1400 years ago.

There’s a lot of emphasis for us to recite the Quran during Ramadan. It’s the one time of the year where everyone is a lot more focused and dedicated to their spirituality, making it a lot easier and enjoyable. Rewards for performing good deeds are multiplied by over 10 fold, which is motivating and encouraging.

Allah’s Prophet said, “Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, ‘I am fasting.”

Why do Muslims fast during this month?

You may have encountered the buzzword ‘Intermittent fasting’ over the past few years. I’m proud to say that Muslims have been doing that consistently over the past 1400 years. Let’s discuss what fasting in Islam entails, whilst looking at the scientific benefits behind it.

The infographic above shows a number of health benefits associated with fasting. From an Islamic point of view however, there’s much more to it than that. The fasting starts at the Fajr prayer and ends at the Maghrib prayer. Essentially from dawn till dusk.

The fasting includes abstaining from food and drink, keeping the stimulation of senses to a minimum and staying away from sexual activity. It’s a time to practice self-control, not to indulge in the usual luxuries of life and to focus on your blessings.

The reason behind fasting is for us to become empathetic with those who are less fortunate than us. Many people live without sufficient food or water their entire lives. For those of us who are blessed with a variety of food choices every day, it gives us time to reflect on that and understand how circumstances are for others.

We often complain about the most trivial aspects of our luxurious lives, without realizing that others would be extremely grateful for a mere fraction of what we have.

Spiritual rejuvenation

We’re without a doubt, living through one of the most unique Ramadans in history. It’s no coincidence that this blessed month coincides with a global pandemic. People have the opportunity to focus more on their spirituality, to reflect, to grow and to become compassionate.

The lock down restrictions have forced us to gain a few realizations. We need to understand that everything happens for a reason. Whether you see it as a blessing or a curse, entirely depends on your perception.

I say this again and again, but it’s an important reminder. Life is short and we are all temporary. Look at how quickly time is passing. Before you know it, your time will be up and you’ll spend the rest of your days in the grave (until Resurrection). Keep that in mind often. It’s not something to be bleak about, it’s part of the circle of life.

You should try and feel motivated by how fleeting this all is. You’re not here for nothing. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s all part of the plan.

The reason I wrote this post was to remind myself of why I focus so much during Ramadan. I also hope to have inspired you in some way, or to have helped you understand it a little better. I really enjoyed writing about this, if you’d like me to discuss the 4 other pillars of Islam, please let me know!

I hope the rest of your month and days ahead are blessed InshaAllah. Stay strong, stay thankful, stay present. Everything happens for a reason, don’t forget that. The more struggle you have to endure, the more you are rewarded. Alhamdulillah for everything.