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The Coffee Cup

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment

coffeemugFailing senior year, a best friend moving a continent away, a fight with your mom, death in the family, that horrible accounts teacher.

What do all these have in common?

Tests. Tests from Allah, set upon us. To evaluate us, to help us progress, to help us grow. To give us that perseverance to go on doing what we believe in, and eventually, to achieve that goal.

Surviving the ordeal aside, there is a much poignant factor not very often taken into consideration, something that counts far more than your physical endurance; the changes that affect us as we go through these tests, what becomes of the soul that’s inside us, our hearts, our spirits, and our ideas count far more than merely scraping past the ‘test’.

Making sure that even through this hurricane, we are firmly planted in the concrete of our belief; ‘verily after hardship comes ease’ (Quran 94:6), and the promise that Allah does not burden a soul greater than it can bear; will not only ease out current mental disposition, but help us deal with those that are yet to come.

The story that I am about to narrate is one that has been the subject of many forwarded emails, hence, I am under no illusions that I can enchant your minds with an original story. My purpose, however, of this particular narration directs towards reflection, in order that we can reflect, and ponder, where exactly do we stand in the meter of endurance, and how exactly do we reach when in ‘hot water’, I wish to help oneself illuminate and identify where our shortcoming lay, and what we can build on those delicate foundations, and change ourselves for the better…

Habiba stormed into the kitchen, tossing her schoolbag across the counter.

“I can’t take it anymore!” she hissed, “I can’t take any of it!”

Her mother calmly closed the refrigerator door, and placed the tomatoes next to the sink. “What’s wrong, dear?” she asked, calmly, wiping her wet hands on her apron.

“It’s HER!! She’s ruining my life! She does everything, everything!! And then she has the nerve – the audacity to put the blame on me!! I can’t stand it!”  Habiba yelled.

Her mother smiled at her softly, “you have a problem” she said, understandingly.

“A problem?! A PROBLEM?!!”  Habiba screeched, “No, ‘problem’ was when she started taking credit for everything I was doing; now she’s just trying to destroy my image! Nobody in class is going to like me after this!” she moaned.

Habiba’s mother looked at her daughter for a long time, a smile playing on her face. Finally, “come here” she said, “I want to show you something”.

And with that, she removed the pots off the stove in which were simmering that mid-day’s meal, and reached for three fresh pots, roughly of the same size.

Prompted by curiosity, Habiba’s anger slid away as she proceeded to move next to her mother, and observe more closely what she was doing.

Filling each pot half-way with water, Habiba’s mother placed them on the stove and let them boil.

Once the soft bubbling resonated through the otherwise quiet kitchen, Habiba’s mother reached for an egg.

“Feel this” she said, placing the smooth roundness in the palm of her daughter’s hand.

“What’s it feel like” she asked once Habiba had run her hand across its surface.

“The shell – it’s hard”  Habiba replied, puzzled.

“And what’s it like on the inside?”

“Liquid”

Her mother then carefully placed the egg inside one of the three boiling pots.

She then reached for a carrot, and once again, placed it in Habiba’s hand, “feel this” she said, holding her daughters free hand, and running it across the length of the carrot.

“It’s hard”  Habiba responded quizzically, her puzzlement elevating by the second.

“And on the inside?”

“It’s still hard, mom”

Wordlessly, her mother dropped the carrot into another of the pots, and finally reached for a jar.

“Smell this” she said, holding it lidless under Habiba’s nose.

“It’s coffee”  Habiba replied, impatience now lacing her voice. “It smells like coffee”

Her mother then scooped up some coffee, and dropped it into the last pot.

Minutes later, Habiba’s mother scooped out the egg, and placed it in a bowl inside the sink.

“Crack that”  she instructed her daughter.

Reaching for a fork, Habiba hit the shell until she could pull away shards of it to reveal the boiled whiteness within.

“What happened to the liquid?” her mother asked.

“It hardened”  Habiba shrugged.

Her mother then reached for the carrot, and placed it on a chopping board. “Slice this” she asked her daughter.

The knife slipped into the now soft carrot easily, and Habiba had her task completed in no time.

“What happened to the hardness of the carrot?” her mother asked.

“it softened”  Habiba replied, popping, popping a still hot slice into her mouth, then promptly spitting it out of her singed mouth.

“And this,“ her mother poured the coffee into a mug, and placed it in front of  Habiba.

Her reaction was instantaneous; her salivary glands went into overdrive, and she longed to take a sip of the delicious looking – and smelling coffee that sat in front of her, wafting its pleasant aroma around the kitchen.

“What happened to the coffee powder?”

“It…uh…released the flavor into the water”  Habiba answered.

Her mother smiled with satisfaction. “The egg, the carrot, and the coffee all went through the same trial: hot water. And yet, they each chose to react differently, the inside of the egg hardened, the carrot softened altogether, and the coffee turned the water into something purely delicious…the same concept applies to us, to what happens to us when we go through our own hot water, don’t you think?” she eyed her daughter, smiling softly, “we will all definitely be going through trials of our own, but only we can decide if we will softer, weaken – and loose our courage and strength altogether – like the carrot, or have our hearts harden, and turn cold and unforgiving – like the egg, or to change the situation itself, and instead of wallowing in the misery of it, choose to improve the circumstances, and revise the entire environment itself – like the coffee.”

Admitted, life isn’t always as clear as that, life doesn’t always leave us with either black or white, one or the other, and I know that sometimes, even when we do try our very best, things don’t  always turn out the way we plan it to. But that, I guess is the beauty of it. If we bear it with patience, Allah rewards us even more than we started off with.

And sometimes, on really good days, we do actually tend to become the coffee, brightening not just our lives, but the lives of those around us.

Categories: Advice

How to Protect Yourself from Bullying

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment

no_bullyingPeople, from the moment of birth, to the day they die, are influenced by everything happening around them. A child, for instance, from day one, up till the age of six  is considered ‘a fertile field’ where his surrounding environment is allowed to sow either weeds or rose seeds that will grow into the mental frame of the child. Likewise, although less sensitive, any person is prone to and is likely to be affected by his environment, the effects of which can leave lifelong scars, or the basis of a bright and colorful future.

A huge number of us, unfortunately have been, or are victims of some kind of bullying, and we go through it lonely, scared, and depressed. We feel as though we are the only ones with problems as such, and we wonder what we ever did to receive treatment like this. Everything we ever thought good about ourselves takes a nosedive, and like the scattered remnants of a crashed plane, we are left to salvage the broken pieces of ourselves long after the perpetrator of all that pain and suffering is long gone – Depressing huh?

One more thing before I plunge into all the gory details – This article maybe written from a teen’s perspective, but it isn’t excusive to us. Don’t write off bullying as a ‘teen issue’, it can happen anywhere, whether you’re a fifty year old business manager, or a ten year old trying to buy a lollypop. It’s around you. And it’s affecting you. Don’t let it get out of hand.

Bullying can come in unlimited forms, but the two categories it falls under are Verbal and Physical. One must keep in mind that something as trivial as the tone of voice used when delivering a sentence is also considered bullying. Teasing. Taunting, and Threatening – more obvious forms, also fall under the category. Some deem the title ‘bulling’ is only crowned after repeated attempts at it, however, other acknowledge single instances and age into the definition. Either way, the bottom line of bullying is control. The bully likes the feeling of control he gets over his victims, and tries to do his level best to keep things with him on top.

As I keep mentioning (like a broken record player, I might add), anyone can become a victim of bullying. However, there are certain characteristics that bullies look for in their victims, certain consistencies that make their self-appointed tasks all the more easier:

  • People who don’t have that many friends.
  • People who tend to be more serious about the more important things in life, like school, or work.
  • Different people.
  • People who feel awkward in social situations.
  • People who appear vulnerable.
  • People with LOW self-esteem.

As a victim, there are ways you can bring bullying to a halt:

  • Ignore: Bullies crave attention. They love it when they get a big reaction to their meanness. Pretending you don’t hear them and moving away from them, acting as though they simply don’t exist, and giving no reaction can sometimes help with certain bullies.
  • Feel good: Bullies are drawn to those of us feeling inferior with ourselves like files to cow patties. If there’s something about yourself you don’t like, or feel embarrassed or shy about, work on changing it. Exercise, if that’s what will help build up your inner self. Do whatever you need to do to climb up that ladder of self-esteem and confidence.
  • Stand tall: I know it’s not always easy to feel brave and confident around a bully, but even pretending to – at least in the beginning, can help immensely. If the bully is doing something you don’t like, stand up for yourself and say “NO!” .Don’t let them mess around with you. If you just go along with what a bully tells you to do, then that’s just an invitation for them to come back – which they will. Don’t give them that pleasure.
  • Have a friend – and be one: It’s not very frequent that a bully picks on someone who has a friend to back him up. If you have a friend who’s being bullied, face the bully together, there are more chances he’d back off under such circumstances. Don’t stand in the sidelines if you’re not the one being bullied. Saying nothing is almost as bad as the bullying act itself.
  • Don’t bully back, and never use violence: Although it can be very tempting at times, never, ever stoop down to the bully’s level, and turn into one yourself. This will only make matters worse, especially if the bully feels threatened or humiliated, he can make things worse. Resorting to violence can lead to the same outcome. Someone could get hurt, and you could get in trouble. Take the high road. Deal with it if you can. If not, speak to an adult who can help.
  • Tell an adult: You don’t have to keep it a secret. It’s not a burden you have to carry on your own. There are so many adults out there who are willing to help you, if only you take that first step. They can’t always identify when you need help. Approach them, and they will do everything in their power to keep the same thing from happening. Bullies usually tend to stop their acts once they know an adult has been brought into the picture out of fear of getting into trouble with their parents. It’s not considered tattling – bullying is wrong. Period. By bringing it to a halt, you’re helping numerous victims, and future victims,consequently drastically altering their lives for the better.
  • Befriend the Bully: It may not work all the time, but sometimes, on those rare occasions, it is possible to     draw a silver lining around that dark and gloomy cloud. Try reaching out to him, find common grounds. Who knows, perhaps the two of you have a crazy obsession with peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. You never know unless you try. However, one main point you should never forget, is to never sacrifice yourself in the process. Don’t bend over backwards to please the bully, because that’s not befriending him, that tuning into his personal slave.

As a victim, I know it’s easy to depict the bully as a monster who leaves nothing but destruction and pain in his wake. But what we must try and understand is. Everyone is Human. We all screw up some time or the other. Nobody’s perfect, and sometimes, all we need is a second chance to right all the wrongs we’ve done. Everyone has some good in them, it’s just that some of us don’t find it easy to show and express it. The bully might also have been a victim of bullying himself which may have subsequently triggered his own bullying trait. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”.

Categories: Advice

Success Factor

Defining Success : So what does success mean to you? For most of us, its simple the acquisition of all the comforts of life. In layman terms, its owning of volumnous bank balance in Swiss bank, a handsome number of property in the name, a fleet of luxury cars parked outside the house, a beautiful wife and the list goes on. Now I am not going to bore you with old sayings that “you can buy bed from money but not sleep or money does not matter and respect is what matters the most and such stuffs”.

In my perspective, SUCCESS is simple Peace of heart. Yes, its a state of your heart. You earn to live a comfortable and peaceful life. it does not matter that you earn a six figure salary or a bare minimum, if you are satisfied with your life (which is the result of the peace of heart), then you can call yourself a Successfull man no matter what world calls you as.

Achieving Success : Well, if success is all about peace and being satisfied, the default question that arises is how to achieve this peace factor. The interesting fact is that when you have understood and accepted the afore said definition of success, you are half-way through achieving it.

Next, you must inculcate the attitude of being contempt with what you have. I ain’t saying you are greedy but our default setting is like that. It is said that even if a man owned a golden forest, he would wish for the second one. So lets get rid of this want-more attitude and be satified with what we have.

Secondly, cease comparing yourself with others. If you would like to have all that is with others, you are compelling yourself to fall into the trap of greed once again. You might not know that the man sitting at the back seat is devoid of the peace that the driver carrying him has or you dont know how annoying the woman is to her husband whose beauty makes you stare her face or how much the person is stressed whose is wearing Microsoft tag around his neck.

If you are not an atheist, just think that your fate has already been pendown and all is going to happen according to that. So why to worry about something which has already been decided. Now you may blame me of motivating you to be sluggish and lazy. To make the mess clear, let me tell you that GOD is just and he does not show any partiality. So if you sit down at home and don’t go for work, there isn’t going to be any credit in your salary account. The very fact that you gave up going for work is indicative of commencement of harder times written in your book of fate.

Lastly, there is a limitation-boundary set for everything in this world. You can wear only one dress at a time even though you have many, you can live only in a small place even though you have your property scattered all around the globe and even there is a limit for the quantity of food you take, the time you withstand pleasing your wife on the bed and so on. So what if you become the richest person on the face of earth (and surely it would be in the possession of your heirs one day as nothing including you in this world is permanent) when you are not going to utilize your hard-earned money which made your competitors your enemy. I have seen many people in Bridal Bouquet who put so much of food out of their greed that they could not eat and hence surrender it to trash at the end.

So, the way you think plays a vital role in keeping you happy and content.

Categories: Advice

Chat With GOD

God : Hello. Did you call me?

Me: Called you? No.. who is this?

God : This is GOD. I heard your prayers. So I thought I will chat.

Me: I do pray. Just makes me feel good. I am actually busy now. I am in the midst of something.

God : What are you busy at? Ants are busy too.

Me: Don’t know. But I cant find free time. Life has become hectic. It’s rush hour all the time.

God : Sure. Activity gets you busy. But productivity gets you results. Activity consumes time. Productivity frees it.

Me: I understand. But I still can’t figure out. By the way, I was not expecting YOU to buzz me on instant messaging chat.

God : Well I wanted to resolve your! fight for time, by giving you some clarity. In this net era, I wanted to reach you through the medium you are comfortable with.

Me: Tell me, why has life become complicated now?

God : Stop analyzing life. Just live it. Analysis is what makes it complicated.

Me: why are we then constantly unhappy?

God : Your today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.You are worrying because you are analyzing. Worrying has become your habit. That’s why you are not happy.

Me: But how can we not worry when there is so much uncertainty?

God : Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional.

Me: But then, there is so much pain due to uncertainty. .

God : Pain is inevitable able, but suffering is optional.

Me: If suffering is optional, why do good people always suffer?

God : Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials, but don’t suffer. With that experience their life become better not bitter.

Me: You mean to say such experience is useful?

God : Yes. In every terms, Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.

Me: But still, why should we go through such tests? Why cant we be free from problems?

God : Problems are Purposeful Roadblocks Offering Beneficial Lessons (to) Enhance Mental Strength. Inner strength comes from struggle and endurance, not when you! are free from problems.

Me: Frankly in the midst of so many problems, we don’t know where we are heading..

God : If you look outside you will not know where you are heading.Look inside. Looking outside, you dream. Looking inside, you awaken. Eyes provide sight. Heart provides insight.

Me: Sometimes not succeeding fast seems to hurt more than moving in the right direction. What should I do?

God : Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by you. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than knowing you rode ahead. You work with the compass. Let others work with the clock.

Me: In tough times, how do you stay motivated?

God : Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.

Me: What surprises you about people?

God : when they suffer they ask, “why me?” When they prosper, they never ask “Why me” Everyone wishes to have truth on their side, but few want to be on the side of the truth.

Me: Sometimes I ask, who am I, why am I here. I cant get the answer.

God : Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.

Me: How can I get the best out of life?

God : Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.

Me: One last question. Sometimes I feel my prayers are not answered.

God : There are no unanswered prayers. At times the answer is NO.

Me: Thank you for this wonderful chat.

God : Well. Keep the faith and drop the fear. Don’t believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs. Life is a mystery to solve not a problem to resolve. Trust me. Life is wonderful if you know how to live. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that took our breath away!

Categories: Advice

Peace of Mind Guaranteed

April 16, 2011 1 comment

1. Do Not Interfere In Others’ Business Unless Asked.

Most of us create our own problems by interfering too often in others’ affairs. We do so because somehow we have convinced ourselves that our way is the best way, our logic is the perfect logic and those who do not conform to our thinking must be criticized and steered to the right direction, our direction. This thinking denies the existence of individuality and consequently the existence of God.. God has created each one of us in a unique way. No two human beings can think or act in exactly the same way. All men or women act the way they do because God within them prompts them that way. Mind your own business and you will keep your peace.

2. Forgive And Forget:

This is the most powerful aid to peace of mind. We often develop ill feelings inside our heart for the person who insults us or harms us. We nurture grievances. This in turn results in loss of sleep, development of stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure. This insult or injury was done once, but nourishing of grievance goes on forever by constantly remembering it. Get over this bad habit. Life is too short to waste in such trifles. Forgive,20Forget, and march on. Love flourishes in giving and forgiving.

3. Do Not Crave For Recognition:

This world is full of selfish people. They seldom praise anybody without selfish motives. They may praise you today because you are in power, but no sooner than you are powerless, they will forget your achievement and will start finding faults in you. Why do you wish to kill yours lf in striving for their recognition? Their recognition is not worth the aggravation. Do your duties ethically and sincerely.

4. Do Not Be Jealous:

We all have experienced how jealousy can disturb our peace of mind. You know that you work harder than your colleagues in the office, but sometimes they get promotions; you do not. You started a business several years ago, but you are not as successful as your neighbor whose business is only one year old. There are several examples like these in everyday life. Should you be jealous? No. Remember everybody’s life is shaped by his/her destiny, which has now become his/her reality. If you are destined to be rich, nothing in the world can stop you. If you are not so destined, no one can help you either. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for your misfortune. Jealousy will not get you anywhere; it will only take away your peace of mind.

5. Change Yourself According To The Environment:

If you try to change the environment single-handedly, the chances are you will fail. Instead, change yourself to suit your environment. As you do this, even the environment, which has been unfriendly to you, will mysteriously change and seem congenial and harmonious.

6. Endure What Cannot Be Cured:

This is the best way to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Every day we face numerous inconveniences, ailments, irritations, and accidents that are beyond our control… If we cannot control them or change them, we must learn to put up with these things. We must learn to endure them cheerfully. Believe in yourself and you will gain in terms of patience, inner strength and will power.

7. Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew:

This maxim needs to be remembered constantly. We often tend to take more responsibilities than we are capable of carrying out. This is done to satisfy our ego. Know your limitations. . Why take on additional loads that may create more worries? You cannot gain peace of mind by expanding your external activities. Reduce your material engagements and spend time in prayer, introspection and meditation. This will reduce those thoughts in your mind that make you restless. Uncluttered mind will produce greater peace of mind.

8. Meditate Regularly:

Meditation calms the mind and gets rid of disturbing thoughts. This is the highest state of peace of mind. Try and experience it yourself. If you meditate earnestly for half an hour everyday, your mind will tend to become peaceful during the remaining twenty-three and half-hours. Your mind will not be easily disturbed as it was before. You would benefit by gradually increasing the period of daily meditation. You may think that this will interfere with your daily work. On the contrary, this will increase your efficiency and you will be able to produce better results in less time.

9. Never Leave The Mind Vacant:

An empty mind is the devil’s workshop. All evil actions start in the vacant mind. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile . Actively follow a hobby. Do something that holds your interest. You must decide what you value more: money or peace of mind. Your hobby, like social work or religious work, may not always earn you more money, but you will have a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Even when you are resting physically, occupy yourself in healthy reading or mental chanting of God’s name.

10. Do Not Procrastinate And Never Regret:

Do not waste time in protracted wondering ” Should I or shouldn’t I?” Days, weeks, months, and years may be wasted in that futile mental debating. You can never plan enough because you can never anticipate all future happenings. Value your time and do the things that need to be done. It does not matter if you fail the first time. You can learn from your mistakes and succeed the next time. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. Learn from your mistakes, but do not brood over the past. DO NOT REGRET. Whatever happened was destined to happen only that way. Why cry over spilt milk?

Categories: Advice

Don’t Let Others Take Advantage Of You

Is there such a thing as being too nice? One would think not, but sadly, there are times when that may be the case.

It would natural to think that if you treat people nicely they will want to respond in kind. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes people confuse kindness with weakness. They feel if you are nice to them, that you will be easy to take advantage of. They think you won’t stand up for yourself and they will be able to manipulate you.

Being nice to people may start an avalanche of requests for favors. Those who are lazy or weak or selfish may try to get someone who is nice to them, to do things for them that they don’t want to do. It can escalate until the nice guy feels it has gotten out of hand and they feel guilty for eventually having to say no.

Acts of kindness can make some people feel they can do what they want to you and you won’t be strong enough to stand up to them. They assume you are a passive person.

You may have been raised to be nice to people but some people have found it easier not to be. They take the path of least resistance and because you choose to be nice, they see you as a threat and a target.

Being nice to people is a definitely a good thing, but it pays to protect yourself. Go ahead and test the waters. Be nice but don’t go all out for someone unless you’re pretty sure you know how they will respond to it. If you see signs that the recipient is testing your kindness, be sure to assert yourself so they know that you can’t be taken advantage of.

Don’t think you always have to be nice. Recognize that in some situations it isn’t necessary or won’t be appreciated. It can even cost you in the long run, so think about who you want to extend your kindness to.

Courtesy : Pearl Murry

Categories: Advice

Make decisions yourself

There was a man who undertook a long journey with his young son and a mule. The man made his son sit on the mule. After crossing some distance, a passerby stopped them and told the man, “What are you doing? You have put the young fellow on the mule and you are walking. Is he not strong enough to walk?” So the old man made the boy walk, while he sat on the mule. After a little further, another stranger passed by. He scolded the old man saying, “What kind of a father are you – making the young fellow walk all the way?”. So the man made the boy sit on the mule and both travelled together. A third man looking at this remarked, “You have no compassion on this mule. How can this old mule carry both of you?”. So both of them got down and walked with the mule. Now a fourth man passed by. Seeing them he said, “How foolish you are? Mules are meant to carry people, but you are walking with the mule.” Hearing this, the man took his knife and killed the mule to avoid further trouble.

Today’s world bombards us with views of different sorts. TV, Movies, Friends, Elders – each category contributes its share of ideas and each of them may be very convincing. But it is up to us to choose what is best for us. There will always be people, who love you, and those who hate you, and everything in between, but it really has nothing to do with you, it’s their stuff and their triggers. So, make a choice. What feels good and true to your heart, what makes you feel joy? Go with that and let others choose what they want to feel complete. Because, really you have no responsibility for other people’s beliefs and religions, they must choose for themselves. I don’t seek others help to choose dress for me or to tell me what hair style will suit me. My principle is to take the views/inputs from all, do and evaluation based on these inputs and then finally take the decisions yourself. This way, you will never have to repent.

Categories: Advice