I was showering one day, and a bunch of ideas about the benefits of reading popped into my mind, which I thought would be useful to share. I’ve been a little neglectful in my reading this year (comparatively speaking), and as usual, I was starting to wonder what was the point of reading. Again, I was reflecting on the WHY.
Turns out there’s a lot more to reading than just telling people how much you’ve read. Your mental prowess is strengthened through the acquisition of knowledge (you get to learn sophisticated new words), your creativity expands profusely, and your ability to empathize is augmented.
Sounds cool right? Let’s get into it.
Acquisition of knowledge
This is arguably the most straightforward benefit and reason why people read. To acquire knowledge. Whether you’re reading from a textbook to prepare for an exam, reading an article on the Top 3 Benefits of Reading, reading an interesting post on Instagram, reading religious text for your spirituality or reading an ordinary non-fiction book, at the heart of it lies the acquisition of knowledge.
Whatever you read, whether you’re conscious of it or not, has an impact on your knowledge. Your mental prowess is arguably your greatest asset as well. You need to continuously invest in it so that it can continue to grow.
The remarkable thing is that the first Qur’anic verse or word revelated to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was “Read!”.
As I’m starting to remember that, the more motivated I’m becoming to continue reading. It can become less of a burden, and more of a priority.
Expansion of creativity
In addition to the knowledge that you gain, reading enhances your ability to think beyond your current mental limitations. The more you’re exposed to and engage with newer, abstract and unique concepts, the more creative you can become.
I always find it invigorating when I’m able to push my own boundaries because of something I read in a non-fiction book. When I read about self-development, what has been done by others or theories about the future, it enables me to also push beyond what I currently believe is possible within myself.
Additionally, unlike in a movies, fictional books also force you to use your imagination to picture the story you’re reading. I currently don’t put too much effort in being imaginative, but it’s definitely something I’m working on. The more you mentally engage with the stories, the more creative you can become in other aspects of your life as well.
Augmentation of empathy
The last aspect that I thought about was how it can develop your empathy. This is also more relevant to fictional books, as you have to take perspectives from different characters.
As with creativity, the more you read about stories from other people’s point of views, the more you’re able to feel what they’re feeling. As the characters develop, the deeper your understanding becomes of their own personality, how they relate to others, and what they want to accomplish.
The practice in this becomes how you put yourself in their shoes to make sense of the story. This can directly translate to your interpersonal relationships, as empathy is also a skill that can be worked on.
So when it comes to reading, my personal preference is to take a mix of fictional and non-fictional books. This gives me the right balance in acquiring new knowledge, expanding my creativity and augmenting my empathy.
The benefits of reading are definitely not limited to what I mentioned in this post. If you have any other important insights from your own reading experience, feel free to share it in the comments below! I’m also happy to engage more on this topic privately.
It’s been a while since I last posted. Nearly 4 months actually… I kind of forgot about the reason why I started blogging. It felt like I lost my mojo.
There was a bit of a revival last week though, when I attended a family reunion and then also spent a few days in Drakensberg, Alhamdulillah. I actually had some time to reflect, which has been occurring less recently due to being caught up in the rat race.
Back to the point, people started asking me what happened to my blog. That’s when I started asking myself… WHY did I even have a blog? It didn’t take too long for me to realize that it was because I had an urge to share beneficial insights and nuggets of wisdom with the world.
Aspire to Inspire was the motto.
I also started understanding how the blogging had an impact on me, personally. The topics and concepts I’d write about would become more ingrained in my own mind, which helped me practice them more. I basically needed to write these posts to help me become a better person.
So I’m back now and I’m ready to get cracking. I’m not going to take the usual approach and give long, detailed unsolicited advice. I’m just going to share what’s on my mind (which is likely to be unsolicited advice, haha).
There’s a part of me that has been feeling a bit anxious as of late. I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I suspect it has to do with not living up to my own values. There’s a part of me that feels like I need to do more to serve the world around me.
Fulfilment does not come from pursuing selfish needs (for most of us). It’s temporary satisfaction, but there is an underlying emptiness that comes with it. I definitely start to feel a bit out of place in my life when I’m not serving a cause greater than myself. I’ve started to realize more and more that it’s crucial to find a way to give back.
I need to stop being selfish with my time, energy and resources. I can and will do more to help those around me, inshaAllah.
It’s always about being thankful. It’s been ordained onto us by God, and for a specific reason. We are blessed beyond comprehension. The problem? We don’t comprehend enough. If we take 1 minute out of our day to reflect on how much we have, we’ll be impressed. Maybe we’ll even start feeling guilty.
Good. Then it’s time to give more.
I need to stop hoarding, buying, collecting and storing for no real reason. I need to be more thankful, appreciative, and grateful for what I have.
I’ll clear out my wardrobe for clothes that I haven’t worn in the past 6-12 months (even if it’s brand new), give away leftover food more often, and make sure that at the bare minimum, I smile more often!
Our minds are powerful. We have so much potential to grow, develop and contribute. It starts with discipline, having control over our thoughts and impulses. Mindfulness is there in everything we do. In Islam, it’s part of our prayers. It’s been there long before the term itself even existed.
When we pray, we are narrowing our thoughts to the One who created thought itself. To the One who controls everything in existence. Reflecting on God and praying is the ultimate form of being mindful.
I started looking at mindfulness through the wrong lens. It shouldn’t have been about being more efficient or getting more done. It is about understanding and reflecting on purpose. Meditating on life, death and the beauty that encompasses it all. It’s about being alive to the present moment, so I can appreciate the shortness of life, with a focus on the hereafter.
After not blogging for a while, I feel energized writing this post. It’s a way for me to inspire myself, so that I can live in a way that’s more aligned to my true values and purpose. In that, I hope to inspire others to pursue their own journey and live to their full potential.
It’s always been amazing to me how adults often behave quite a lot like children. We’re always told to ‘grow up’, to be more mature, to start acting our age… But what does that actually even mean?
As human beings, we follow by example, not by what we’re told. We’ll replicate the behaviours of others, not just what they tell us to do. This is something a lot of us know already, but don’t internalize enough.
Today’s topic will be linked to a specific aspect of childishness, but more so to do with forgiveness and moving on. I’ve come to realize that adults have a lot to learn from children in this regard, especially when it comes to putting your ego aside and letting go.
Let’s talk about what forgiveness actually means, why it only harms us to hold onto resentment/grudges, an Islamic perspective, and what children have to teach us about letting go.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is about letting go of resentment. It’s the process of voluntarily changing your attitude towards someone or something that has done you harm (in any form). It’s not about forgetting the wrong that has been done unto you, but it’s about understanding that we’re all flawed and make mistakes.
“To err is human and to forgive is divine.”
This is an important concept to grasp, because we’ll only be able to forgive if we actually know what it means to forgive. So all that is great in theory, but what does it mean in practice? Do we just allow people to step over us and endlessly forgive them?
The obvious answer is no. Practically speaking, there are two aspects of forgiveness to consider; internal and external healing.
Internally, it involves letting go of your ill feelings towards the other person. Externally, it’s about confronting them, setting new boundaries, and ensuring it doesn’t happen again. It’s a tough process that requires you to put your ego aside, to create the space for justification, and to make a logical decision about the relationship when you’re not overwhelmed.
You have to be aware of the underlying assumptions that you created in your mind and how they shape your current view of the situation. Give people the benefit of the doubt and always think of reasons around why they could have made that mistake.
Why does it harm us to hold onto grudges?
It harms us to hold onto grudges because we are the ones who sit with that negative energy. We end up using up a lot of time and energy trying to deal with those thoughts. We end up feeling resentment towards other people. It may affect our relationship with other people as well.
In essence, there’s a lot more to gain from the process of letting go, than holding on. Even if we don’t get the other person to apologize or justify their actions, we still need that inner peace and contentment. Kids do this quite well. They sulk for a bit but find it easy to let go rather quickly.
Islamic perspective on forgiveness
Islam emphasizes forgiveness on a daily basis. When it comes to our own sins and mistakes, we are obligated to seek forgiveness from God and repent. When it comes to other people, we are also obligated to have mercy on them and be forgiving.
One of the core teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) is that we should forgive others as well. We should live out the values of patience, mercy and compassion, as this is what would ultimately lead us to be closer to God.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not harbour a grudge against one another, nor jealousy, nor enmity, and do not show your backs to one another and become as fellow brothers and slaves of Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim to avoid speaking with his brother beyond three days.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
What can children teach us about this?
Children are quick to move on. Yes, they get upset and make a fuss about trivial matters, but it doesn’t tend to last very long. They forgive as quickly as they get upset, which helps them maintain their relationships in a strange way.
Children also don’t have a very future-oriented way of seeing things. They’re incredibly present and perceive time in shorter intervals than we do. The advantage of that? They don’t think about the future as objectively as us, allowing them to make amends for mistakes sooner rather than later.
The point I’m trying to make with all this is that we’re all human at the end of the day. We all make mistakes, we all mess up, we all falter and hurt each other (knowingly or unknowingly). When we incorporate forgiveness as a core value and act upon it, we live with a lot more ease.
We forge stronger relationships. We don’t allow trivial matters to ruminate in our minds and cause us to have ill feelings. We get closer to God in the process as well.
The next time someone messes up (even if it’s you!) forgive them. Not just for them, but for yourself.
Resolutions, reflections, goals, motivation, inspiration and so much more. The new year always seems to bring hope for a fresh start. We want to climb higher, earn more, get fitter, chill harder, all whilst feeling more alive. But do we actually end up changing as individuals or not?
At the start of every year, I read back on my journal entries from the previous months leading up to the start of the previous year. I often find trends, as I probably don’t change all that much from the core of who I am. That led me to an astounding new resolution, why don’t I just stay the same person?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sound believer of the growth mindset as you may already know. The point here isn’t to stick to the same bad habits or continue being an a-hole. But it’s not about going to the gym more or eating more carrots either. It’s to look down at my guiding principles and values, and see where that has led me over the past few years.
So where has it all led me? To where I am today.
I’d like to use the first post of the year to look back at how I’ve been the same person over the past couple of years, but just with different habits. Maybe that will help ring something in you too, who knows.
I thought about this after realizing that no matter what it is that I do, I always want to win. I’ve learned to become comfortable with losing, as long as I’ve given it my best shot. Since my pre-school days, I can remember feeling that competitive edge when it came to literally anything.
So when I look into the new year, it’s something that I accept as part of who I am and try to fit in some goals to help me with that attribute. I use my competitive nature to always try to develop new skills and stay up to date with other friends (in similar fields or industries).
Another common theme year-on-year is my eagerness to adventure and try out new activities. This is because I love leaving my comfort zone and experimenting. As part of that, I strive to do something unique every year (if circumstances allow).
It can sometimes be a bad thing because I then itch if I’m sitting still for too long (literally and metaphorically). So even if it’s just trying out a new meal or a new exercise regime, I still include some aspect of novelty in my life.
A little impatient
Despite my constant struggle to be patient, I often find myself rushing people or getting annoyed when plans change too often. It generally results in other people getting annoyed/frustrated at me, which just drives the cycle.
Every year, I try to take it a little easy and stay calm when things don’t go my way. But I just haven’t found the right habits yet to keep me as patient as I’d like to be.
That’s one of the other reasons why I thought of the ‘New year, same me’ concept. Because deep down, we have to put in a lot more effort than we think, to genuinely make progress on ourselves. That brings me to the last point; that I always strive to be driven by values.
Strive to be driven by values
I have some core values in theory and I have some core values in practice. What I’ve noticed over time is that they’re not always aligned. There are parts of me that just take longer to accept the values that I’d like to have.
The one sphere that I particularly want to pay more attention to is that of religion. Being a Muslim comes first and foremost to me, which is where my values come from in the first place. It’s a struggle every year to keep up with the principles and deepen my Islamic knowledge base.
What I’d like to end this post by saying is that a new year factually means that we’re getting closer to our death. This should humble us and inspire us to improve on all facets of our life. We’re here for a specific purpose, and it’s up to us to ensure that we strive towards it.
Be more mindful. Be more present. Have deeper and tougher conversations. Give out more charity. Perform more acts of kindness. Pray more, for yourself and for those you love. Go out on more adventures. Spend less time on your devices and more time connecting with people. Keep up the great work. You got this.
It’s finally time for another book review! I haven’t summarized a book in quite some time, but I finally got some inspiration after starting a book club with my mate Jono. I’ve also been itching to share some useful knowledge that you can read up more on yourself.
The book I’ll be diving into today is called ‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday. As the title suggests, it’s all about why ego is our greatest opponent and how to fight it. It was actually an eye-opener for me, as I haven’t really realized the way ego can sneak into our worldview and affect almost everything we do.
The book is segmented into 3 main sections; Aspire, Success, and Failure. Each section is comprised of multiple subsections, but I’ll only focus on a couple that resonated quite strongly with me.
The book essentially talks about the different stages that we experience in life and how ego develops in every stage. Ryan Holiday explains the concept by bringing in real-life examples from his personal journey, and by speaking through the stories of other historically famous people.
Let’s understand more about the ego and what we can do to prevent it from crippling us.
This is the phase where we set out to achieve something. We dream big, start chasing goals and begin a new journey. Yet, we oftentimes fall short of our ambition. Ego tends to be the culprit.
Talk, Talk, Talk
How often do we find ourselves talking endlessly about all that we want to achieve in life? Our wishes, our goals, our aspirations seem so much easier when we’re just talking about them. Getting to action or making other people have the spotlight seems less likely.
Silence is a crucial element here, especially when everyone else just seems to be a constant chatterbox. My previous post on The Art of Silence fits well into this section, as it highlights the importance of being comfortable in your own quietness.
The point here is that talking is easy. What’s ultimately always harder is walking the talk. It goes both ways. As one of the partners at the company I currently work at always says: We need to talk the walk and walk the talk. It goes both ways, but the latter is definitely more important.
Become A Student
I think it’s quite clear why this one resonates so much with me. I’ve devoted myself to constantly trying to be a life-long learner. This means approaching life like a sponge. Absorbing as much information and knowledge that I can from people that I encounter and experiences that I face.
It’s crucial not to let ego get in the way of this. We can easily pretend like we know what’s going on or fake our way through certain phases of our life, but it prevents true learning and growth. Having a white-belt mentality at the start will enable us to rapidly develop and gain expertise.
Work, Work, Work
This point links very closely to the one on Talk, Talk, Talk, as it brings in the concept of working hard. What we often underestimate is how challenging it can be to push forward when we face setbacks. Ego often tends to come into the picture here and makes us fall into the planning fallacy. We try as best as we can to avoid doing the actual work, by spending time ‘preparing’ and trying to feel productive about it.
It’s not always going to be easy. We’re going to wish it was a straight and clear path to move forward and achieve that goal. But it’s not going to be that way. There will be challenges, whether we like it or not. The best thing we can do is embrace it and keep ourselves prepared to overcome the hurdles and become stronger.
“Every time you sit down to do work, remind yourself: I am delaying gratification by doing this. I am passing the marshmallow test. I am earning what my ambition burns for. I am making an investment in myself instead of my ego.
This is the part where we’re reaping the harvest of the hard work and enjoying success, or where the summit is potentially insight. It’s when our pride, arrogance, and ‘know-it-all’ attitude strike out. It’s where we have to be incredibly careful not to stop learning or undermine the challenges that are yet to come.
Always Stay A Student
“As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”
It’s quite clear why this is so important once we start picking up a few wins. Becoming a student is one thing. Remaining a student is something else altogether. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we’re not ‘there’. There’s no specific end goal to learning. It’s a continuous and life-long process.
When we start to feel like ‘we’ve been there and done that’, we need to keep ourselves in check. There’s always an opportunity to learn from other people, it just depends on the perspective you have.
Beware Of The Disease Of Me
Another crucial humbling point is to remind ourselves that we’re not the centre of the universe. We should not make ourselves feel like we’re the most important person in the room. We need to realize that the privilege of success is not going to continue falling into our lap once we make it.
We have to constantly seek out new challenges and embrace the opportunity to struggle. Give other people credit where it’s due and focus on developing them as well. It’s not all about you. It never will always be about you. Let that sober you up a little bit.
Meditate On the Immensity
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”
Reflect on how far you’ve come. How much you’ve grown. How much more there is to grow. Try and see the bigger picture amidst all the distractions. Think of your purpose. Who you are. What you are doing. Your role in this world.
Meaning does not only come from activity, despite how often our ego makes us feel that way. We don’t have to be the centre of attention. We need to look beyond our own success and the rat race, and keep the real objective in mind.
We then hit a roadblock. Things don’t always work out. We might fall short of our achievement. But how do we respond and pick ourselves up? What is the inner dialogue? How do we react?
Alive Time or Dead Time?
We are almost certainly bound to experience failure in some form or the other, at some point in our life. This can be somewhat of a daunting thought, but there are always ‘make or break’ moments that follow those experiences. We either rise above the circumstance and grow, or we let it crush us and stagnate (or even deteriorate).
Alive time or dead time refers to the concept of either utilizing a negative experience to stay alive (to the learnings, the lessons and potential to grow), or to die out (by falling into bad habits, losing hope and giving up).
When faced with any form of fear, we should constantly try to look at how we can learn from it. Almost all our experiences have some form of value to offer. It’s up to us to extract it. Choose alive time.
The Effort is Enough
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
“Do your work. Do it well. Then let go, and let God.”
To me, this section focused on having a growth mindset. Ryan Holiday brought it up in a slightly different way though. When it comes to missing our targets or not achieving our set out goals, we should focus on the effort we put in. It’s not always about the result, it’s about the dedication.
He brings it up in the context of appreciation and not getting all the praise we deserve for what we set out to do. We should remind ourselves that it’s not our objective to be put on a pedestal. That’s the ego’s goal. Our goal is to try our best and keep pushing, whatever that may mean.
When things don’t go our way, it’s easy to hate. It’s easy to blame other people and not take responsibility for the outcomes. We should keep in mind, however, that it doesn’t get us any closer to our goal. In fact, it may even arrest our development entirely.
What we need to do in moments of difficulty is to choose love. To choose forgiveness. To let go of resentment and arrogance. This is definitely easier said than done, but the outcome will always be better. Maybe not for everyone involved, but definitely for your own well-being.
Choosing love is hard because the ego convinces us that we have every right to hate and stay bitter. Which is probably true. Your anger might be justifiable. But it doesn’t mean that lashing out will help you progress. In moments of failure, always love.
Throughout our life, we’ll always be in one of those three stages. Ego will invariably try to play a role in directing us. It’s up to us to be conscious enough in our decisions, to remain humble and to always remain a student.
How often are you able to sit comfortably in silence with other people? Do you find that you struggle to sit in silence with yourself? Do you constantly need to have some kind of noise to keep you distracted?
We live in an era where there is more noise than ever before. The appropriate term to use would be pollution. It’s excessive, it’s everywhere and it’s addicting. But what exactly do I mean by noise? I mean constantly being occupied with something to do. Whether it be social media, watching YouTube, constantly talking or even just reading the news. We struggle to sit in silence.
In today’s post, I’d like to talk about why silence is so important, why it’s so difficult to do, and how we can learn to become more comfortable sitting in silence. This will not only be valuable for ourselves, but it also allows us to bond more intimately with other people in our life.
Why is silence important?
Some of the immediate benefits that come to my mind include:
Silence can create mental space
It allows you to develop self-awareness and reflect
It can foster creativity and problem-solving
It aids in relaxation
But how come there are so many benefits that we just don’t seem to acknowledge? It’s probably because we don’t sit in silence enough. Silence can create mental space because when we’re sitting by ourselves (or potentially with someone else) and not speaking, we free up some mental bandwidth that can be used for other purposes.
This links directly to the next point on reflection and inducing self-awareness. Naturally, when we have free time and just stare out the window, for example, our minds tend to reflect on where we are currently. This is incredibly useful when we nudge it in the right direction, as it can help us look back at certain experiences and gain wisdom, or look forward at tasks ahead and find effective ways to tackle them.
The next benefit of silence involves creativity and problem-solving. We often do a lot of subconscious processing when we’re not engaged in an activity, which gives our brain the capacity to think freely and outside of the box. This then allows us to develop certain solutions and innovate beyond what we typically can amidst chatter and noise.
The last point I want to make is a little obvious. Silence aids in relaxation. When we sit in a quiet environment and remain quiet ourselves, it often has a calming effect. This might not necessarily be the case when you’re overthinking or are feeling uncomfortable in the first place. But it definitely does help you stay level-headed and make better sense of what’s going on, which can then relax you.
Why is it so difficult to stay quiet?
As I’ve mentioned already, being quiet is actually a lot harder in this day and age. Firstly, when it comes to personality types, we’ve romanticized the concept of being an extrovert. We consider people who are introverted or shy as being less competent or capable for some reason. I’ll dive into that another day, but a great book recommendation is ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cane.
Secondly, we now have more access than ever before to actually raise our voices (especially digitally). We can constantly gossip, chat, share information, tweet, write blogs, make videos, and create short stories. Social media has essentially created a world of constant ‘noise’.
Lastly, it’s because we’re uncomfortable sitting with our own thoughts. We’re not necessarily conscious of it, but we always find a way to get out of our minds. There are many reasons for that, but it’s definitely something we need to get acquainted with. After all, the quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our life. We’re naturally anxious beings and tend to overthink all the time.
So how do we move forward knowing that it’s quite difficult to stay quiet or sit in silence?
How can we become more comfortable with silence?
We first need to re-frame our thinking around silence, quiet and solitude. It’s not a ‘waste of time’ to let your mind occasionally wander, or to sit down in meditation. It all has real implications on your mental health and your ability to think deeply about problems. So we need to really understand the benefits that come about when we do spend time alone or in silence.
The next thing would be to start small and try it out. When you have a free moment or you’re waiting in a queue, don’t just reach out for your phone and numb your brain. Be mindful of the thoughts that pop in and notice what you start thinking about. You can also allocate specific time (maybe in the morning before you start the day or in the evening before bed) to just sit in quiet.
It can also be helpful to try this with another person that you spend a lot of time with (like a roommate, sibling, or spouse). Sit together without unnecessarily trying to fill in the quiet gaps and notice how you both respond. You might find it to be a strange bonding experience.
Lastly, keep track of the thoughts and ideas that come about in a journal. When you start taking note of your thought process, you get an idea of whether or not you’re in a healthy mental space. Obviously, this will depend on what you write down and your mood at that given point, but if you’re honest with yourself and practise consistently, it will allow you to make sense of your mind and could help you be more comfortable with yourself.
The point I’m trying to make in this post is that there’s a lot of benefit to just being quiet. We all have some form of resistance to sitting in silence, which is not necessarily healthy. It keeps us on our toes and itching to find a distraction or ‘noise’. When we practice sitting in solitude and get more comfortable with our thoughts, we’ll ultimately help ourselves get to a healthier mental space. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but you got this.
“All of humanity’s problems come from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
I’m sure many of you have come across the quote “ask and you shall receive”. I was thinking about it the other day and realized how true it actually is. For many people I know (myself included), we currently have exactly what we prayed/visualized for a while ago. That being said, why do we tend to limit what we ask for?
In today’s post, I’d like to look into the aspects of asking for more and dreaming without constraint. We’re obviously limited by certain factors, but it doesn’t mean we can’t strive for more than what we can currently comprehend achieving. Let’s look into the concept of dreaming/goals, how we can ask for more, and what to do once we get what we wanted.
We are our own limit. Most of the time, it is our internal self-talk that prevents us from dreaming big. It can also be the people we’re surrounded by who may themselves be limited in their imagination. But ultimately, the ability to dream big and aim for the stars lies within our mind.
If you have to really think your maximum potential, it would probably overwhelm you. Firstly, because you’re not necessarily anywhere near it. Secondly, because you’d probably achieve so much more than you thought was humanely possible.
To dive deeper into that, it basically means that we can be afraid of our own success. Now that’s a trip.
So how do we even dream ‘big’? The best place to start is to by just dreaming at all. Have some form of exciting long-term goals. Think about where you want to be in a few years time. Think about your career, academics, relationships, fitness and spirituality. Jot down the ideas that come up on a piece of paper and just brainstorm.
Once you have those written down, think about how you could stretch them out even further. Sure, there’s a typical timeline for climbing the hierarchy in your organisation. Why don’t you aim to be an anomaly and do it faster than ever before? The best part is, even if you fail at the ambitious goal, you’d still make far more progress than you would have if you decided to stick to the way ‘things are normally done’.
That’s how you can try to dream big. Don’t be limited by your own beliefs or what people tell you. Pray for what you want and work hard (and smart) towards achieving it.
Keep Praying(and working hard)
A reflection that I’d like to share with you all is that of praying and visualizing your goals. Something that I was taught at a very young age was to make ‘Duaa’ for whatever I wanted, which is the Islamic term for praying to God. So growing up, I made Duaa for everything. Good health, a loving family, great friends, a successful career, a beautiful spouse etc.
Obviously there were times when my Duaas did and didn’t get accepted. I ultimately believe that “What’s meant for you will never miss you, and what misses you was never meant for you.”
But the point I’m trying to make is that it was a way for me to ask for things, and not from people. That was incredibly liberating for me, as it reduced my neediness on other people. So when I started praying, it gave me a goal to strive towards. That’s the other crucial point.
What I learned later on in my life is that when you attach praying to the concept of visualizing, it becomes a much more powerful driving force and motivator. So for example when I was in undergrad, I used to pray for pass all my courses with top marks and then visualize myself at the graduation ceremony. This motivated to work hard, to keep praying and to strive towards the goal.
I know there can sometimes be a misconception around visualization. The purpose is not just to create a lucrative scenario in your imagination and daydream about it. The objective to imagine yourself having achieved the goal, and to be fueled by that motivation. That should then drive you to work even harder and to keep pushing forward.
Stay Humble and Grateful
The last thing I want to touch is the concept of staying humble and being grateful. These are two crucial elements of having a strong character. The thing about success (in any form), is that it tends to buff up our egos. We feel like we deserve it. We feel powerful to a certain extent. We feel like we are better than other people (which might contextually be true for a certain period of time).
Those feelings/attitudes are quite natural and it’s okay to feel them. The problem arises when we act on them and start to treat people less worthy because of them. That’s when we can become arrogant, snobby and disdainfully proud. The solution to that is self-awareness and a conscious effort to staying humble.
One of my favourite mottos that I have on a T-shirt says:
“Work Hard, Stay Humble”
Being humble does not mean being weak or thinking low of yourself. It just means that you’re modest in your opinion of yourself and understand the complexity and effort put in by all the people in your life, for you to be where you are today. We can act out humility by constantly thinking well of others, by embracing gratitude and by not showing off all of our success.
In essence, what I want you to take from today’s post is that you shouldn’t be shy to ask for more. Don’t hold back on dreaming far beyond what you’re capable of imagining. Keep track of your ambitions and write down certain objectives that can guide you moving forward. Keep praying and visualizing those goals. Lastly, work hard and stay humble.
There’s recently been a lot going on in my life which I’m incredibly grateful for. I thought it would be appropriate to bring back the topic of gratitude, as it is a general theme in my writing. I’d like to specifically dive into the concept of living with an attitude of gratitude. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but it definitely is worth exploring.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about how to remind yourself of your blessings, how to be thankful to other people, how to live in a state of abundance, and how it all links to the present moment.
Blessings on blessings on blessings
I talk about this all the time, but I know how easy it is to get caught up in the storm of life and forget all about it. Just to be clear, I am in no way condoning toxic positivity (as I’ve alluded to several times in the past). The point is not to undermine your current struggles or try to ignore how you’re feeling.
The point is that on a factual basis, we have SO much more than we could possibly wish for. Imagine if we had to pray for every single blessing we have? There’s no way we’d manage to cover everything. Yet, what often happens is that we take for granted the things that are going well for us and focus all our energy on what we’re missing.
Having goals and striving to improve as an imperative for success, remember that. But on that journey, we should remind ourselves of everything that fell into place for us to be where we are today. It’s about appreciating the journey and enjoying the process, not just wishing for the end goal.
Part of the process will always involve other people. We’re not on this planet alone and we’d never be able to survive without support. Why not make those people feel loved and appreciated for all that they do to is.
It’s such a simple thing to do, yet for some reason we either forget or leave it out on purpose; saying thank you to those who have been of service to us. When I use the word service, I don’t only mean actually being served (like a meal for example), but also when people share their guidance, thoughts and wisdom.
Saying thank you more often instills a very specific attitude into your life. You notice that you’re blessed to a certain extent. You also start making other people appreciated for their efforts. This in turn enables them to want to do more for you. It’s a beautiful cycle of positive energy.
Being thankful does not only have to be a verbal cue. You can say thank you through your actions as well. This doesn’t mean we have to buy grandeur gifts for people every time they’re kind to us. But we can do simple things like; return the favour, leave a sticky note with some kind words, embrace them, tell them how much they mean to us and then of course buying them thoughtful gifts. The more grateful we are, the more we receive in return.
The more you give, the more you get
Spoken about this many many times before, but I just want to keep reminding you to give more. Be more charitable. Give out extra clothes. Give it out extra food. Give out your extra change. Support those who are less fortunate than you as much as you possibly can.
There are numerous benefits to this. Not only will it make you feel like you’re contributing and making an impact, but it will also change how people treat you. That shouldn’t be the objective, but it’s a noticeable side effect of being kind. People tend to be kind to you in return (more often than not).
Apart from being treated better, your life actually gets filled me with more blessings. You’ll be astonished at the ROI of giving away just R10 to charity. It’s actually not always quantifiable, but you’ll definitely get more than a R100 in return at some point.
Again, that’s not the objective, it’s just a by-product of being generous. Your intention always plays an important role here. When you give with the intention of uplifting others, it comes across as being genuine and sincere. That ripples again and brings more into your life.
The most fascinating aspect of being truly grateful for me is that it brings you into the present moment. When you pause to appreciate things like your vision, your body, your health, your family, the food on the table or the roof above your head, it brings you into the now.
This aspect of being present is directly linked to mindfulness and an overall sense of well-being, since you’re no longer stressing about future scenarios or dreading the past. The more you’re able to think through a lens of gratitude, the more mindful you’ll train yourself to be.
In essence, this post serves as a reminder to be thankful. For what you have, for who you are, and for all the opportunities that are coming your way. It can sometimes be difficult to remember how blessed we are. The more we practice this attitude of gratitude however, the more of a reflex it becomes. So go out into the world and spread joy, love and kindness.
Thank you for your time and support, it’s truly appreciated. As-Salaamu Alaikum (May peace be upon you).
Hello hello and welcome to another Memento Mori post. I was reflecting on some of the most interesting conversations that I’ve had in my life, and realized that many of them required some kind of disagreement. We live in a polarized world, where everyone we’re surrounded by and the algorithms on all our social media feeds keep us in the same bubble. Us vs them.
We have a misconception around what meaningful conversations are meant to be like. Yes, it’s easier and more comfortable to speak to people who think like you and have similar views. However, it’s even more rewarding and insightful when you get to speak to people who don’t necessarily agree with everything you have to say.
In today’s post, I’d like to dive into how we can engage in thoughtful disagreement. I’ll essentially breakdown the aspects required to ‘debate’ and convince people to hear you out. Let’s look at what active listening is all about, finding common ground, being willing to be wrong and factually expressing yourself. It’s not about being right, it’s about learning.
Before I get going, I’d just like to highlight 2 key books where I’ve derived most of this wisdom from; ‘Think Again’ by Adam Grant and ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling.
When it comes to arguing with people in general, the biggest mistake we make is listening to respond. We tend to get heated up and focus on how to convince them to adopt our way of thinking, instead of listening to hear them out.
Active listening is probably one of the most important aspects of engaging with someone who disagrees with you. It involves listening to understand and make sense of where that person is coming from, not to think of a response. We’ve all been programmed to do the exact opposite of that.
So how can we listen more actively?
Just focus more on their point of view. If you feel yourself starting to think of the ‘perfect reply’ to them while they’re still speaking, push it aside and be mindful. It requires patience, practice and conscious effort. Keep probing them by asking clarifying questions. The objective is to gain a clear understanding of where they’re coming from and what they’re really saying.
Try and paraphrase what they’ve said back to them to ensure that you actually interpreted it correctly. This also shows the other person that you’re receptive to their train of thought, which will in turn allow them to hear you out.
Another great way to get people to hear your side of the story is to first establish common ground. Sure, there will be differences in opinion and ideology. But more often than not, there will also be a lot in common.
When you identify those common beliefs, you should try and express them in a way that draws the other person in. Make them feel like you’re not the enemy. Make yourself feel like that too. We have a lot more in common with other people than we think. This will help build some trust and may allow the other individual to hear out your conflicting thoughts after that.
Willing to be wrong
A willingness to be wrong is absolutely crucial when it comes to thoughtful disagreement. We simply cannot enter the conversation with our cups full and our minds blocked. We need to put our ego aside and accept the fact that we may very well be wrong.
The incredible thing about this is that YOU are the one who gets to learn. If you’re right all the time, it means you’re not challenging your thoughts enough and are maybe surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
This isn’t to say that we should just back down whenever our opinions are challenged. But rather that should be open-minded enough to re-frame our thinking in the face of factual evidence.
Expressing yourself factually
This point ties in well with a willingness to be wrong. In order to have a strong foundation in your discussion, you need to be equipped with proof or certain facts. Your opinion can be solidified by bringing in certain aspects of research. This is to ensure that you’re not just thumb-sucking information and to keep your argument valid.
What does that mean for you then? Do some research! Stop arguing based on something your uncle told you 10 years ago. Find out for yourself how true or false your current beliefs are. This will not only help you debate more concretely, but it will also enable you to learn more about yourself.
At the end of the day, that’s the point. You want to continuously update your understanding of yourself and the world around you. There’s certainly no shortage of information out there. It’s about exposing yourself to enough differing views and forming an understanding for yourself.
That’s the last thing I want to tell you. Don’t just accept the first article you read as being your source of truth. Find different sources, different authors, different perspectives. Don’t fall into analysis paralysis, but just cover your bases.
There will always be things we agree on and things we disagree on. The point is to make the most of the different perspectives that are available to you and learn as much as you can. Don’t let your ego get in the way of having an incredibly meaningful conversation. You don’t always have to agree, but you should always try to learn.
How often do you find yourself consciously facing your fears? In this day and age, I’d say probably not much at all. Being confined by fear is an interesting concept, especially when most of it is actually psychological.
I thought about writing on fear because I know how much I subconsciously try to avoid confronting it. There are a number of root causes to our current fears, which could either be biological, physiological, or due to traumatic experiences.
In today’s post, I’d like to dive into your fears. I’ll look at identifying the different causes of those fears, what we can do about them, and how to avoid being shut down by fear. This might be easier for some of you than it is for others, the point is to try and strengthen our psychological resilience to the horrors we often have to face.
What causes of fear?
“A potential for pain, or an unrecognizable event, causes fear. The amygdalae, organs in the limbic system, detect such possibilities and send the signals which generate the fear emotion, which sets off avoidance activities.”
We experience fear out of instinct to avoid pain or undesirable events. Our minds react to external stimuli (or even mental projections) to ensure that we do what is necessary to survive. So if we have to look at the biological aspect of it, the amygdalae are what cause the sensation of fear. But what events trigger the amygdalae to make us feel that way?
As I’ve alluded to before, there are several different causes behind fear. I’ll focus on 3 in this post specifically, just to touch on the topic at a high-level:
Other causes of fear can include insecurity, overthinking, perfectionism, childhood events (linked to past trauma), and worrying about other people’s opinion to name a few.
On the topic of failure, I think that is one of the most common causes of fear. We are afraid of failing. We want to survive. We want to make it through. We want to succeed. We want to make ourselves and other people in our life proud. It would thus make sense that many of our underlying fears are deep-rooted in our intrinsic motive to avoid failure.
Past trauma is another incredibly important and often undetected cause of fear. When we experience a traumatic event (such as being robbed or getting into a car accident), it often leaves a mark on our psyche. We become a lot more careful, vigilant and even suspicious of the world. We try to avoid getting into that same scenario again, as best as we can.
The last cause of fear that I’ll touch on is that of evolution. We were once hunter gatherers and stayed in very close-knitted groups. We needed to survive off the savannah and ensure the tribe was safe from all forms of danger. The issue is, many of the underlying fears that enabled us to cope with the dangers at that time, stay with us up until today. Fearing snakes, the dark, spiders etc., are often rooted in ancestral times.
Tee figure above shows different levels of intensity when it comes to experiencing fear. Apart from just identifying the causes, we should also look at how intense the feeling is. What I’d like to do now is use the mentioned causes of fear to help us figure out what to do about it.
What to do about fear
So what should we do about fear when it does arise? The first answer is the obvious one; accept it. We often try to hide behind this façade of bravery. We like to appear to be fearless and full of courage. It often comes at the expense of being true to ourselves.
Instead of trying to appear to be strong and brave, what’s even more courageous is learning to accept certain fears and working towards overcoming them. True bravery (in my opinion) is about persistence and trying your best to learn from those underlying fears.
After we accept that they’re there, we need to methodically try to overcome them. It won’t just happen overnight. We can’t expect to find an instantaneous answer. Exposure therapy is something that often works really well in this case. Slowly expose yourself to that which makes you afraid (in bearable doses). Then increase the intensity of the exposure as you get more and more used to it.
Those are things that are very situation specific, but are there ways that will allow us to develop a resilience to fear in general? How can we learn to fight that voice in our head and push forward, despite wanting to sit back and stay in our comfort zone?
How to stop letting fear hold you back
From my perspective, it’s about having faith and building up courage. It can surprisingly also boil down to purpose. When we have a strong foundational belief and understand that everything happens for a reason, we tend to be a lot more resilient.
From an Islamic point of view, the following quote resonates a lot with me:
It’s a fundamental belief that God is always with us, irrespective of how dreadful the scenario may be. Keeping that world view in mind allows me to push through many of my fears and setbacks in general.
When it comes to developing resilience to fear in general, what we need to focus on is essentially building a set of habits that allow us to face ‘baby’ fears all the time. A common example of this is cold showers. It’s petrifying and scary as hell. But doing it consistently allows your mind to practice overcoming the mental hurdle.
Next time there’s something that makes you really nervous or that you’re a little scared to do, just go for it and see the difference it can make. You’ll be a lot more ambitious in your goals and you won’t let trivial trials hold you back.
The point I’m trying to make from this post is that you’re capable. The more you put yourself out there and face you fears, the stronger you become. That strength can then diffuse into all other aspects of your life and will enable you to grow exponentially. We don’t realize how much of our potential is blocked purely because of our misconceptions and fears.