The way you think and feel about yourself, including your beliefs and expectations about what is possible for you, determines everything that happens to you. When you change the quality of your thinking, you change the quality of your life, sometimes instantly.
You have complete control over only one thing in the universe — your thinking! You can decide what you are going to think in any given situation. Your thoughts and feelings determine your actions and determine the results you get. It all starts with your thoughts – and I have found that inspirational words are a quick way to retune your thinking.
1) “The way get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney
2) “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill
3) “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” -Will Rogers
4) “You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.”- Unknown
5) “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”- Vince Lombardi
6) “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”- Steve Jobs
7) “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”- Rob Siltanen
8) “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”- Og Mandino
9) “Entrepreneurs are great at dealing with uncertainty and also very good at minimizing risk. That’s the classic entrepreneur.”- Mohnish Pabrai
10) “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”- Maya Angelou
11) “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.”- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
12) “Imagine your life is perfect in every respect; what would it look like?”- Brian Tracy
13) “We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.”- Dr. Henry Link
14) “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”- Henry Ford
15) “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”- Helen Keller
16) “The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others.”- Hasidic Proverb
17) “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”- Franklin D. Roosevelt
18) “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”- Albert Einstein
19) “What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110% all the time.”- Don Zimmer
20) “Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are.”- Theodore Roosevelt
21) “Develop an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. Say thank you to everyone you meet for everything they do for you.”- Brian Tracy
22) “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”- C.S. Lewis
23) “To see what is right and not do it is a lack of courage.”- Confucious
24) “Reading is to the mind, as exercise is to the body.”- Brian Tracy
25) “Fake it until you make it! Act as if you had all the confidence you require until it becomes your reality.”- Brian Tracy
26) “The future belongs to the competent. Get good, get better, be the best!”- Brian Tracy
Real confidence is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” Fake confidence is pretending to have self-assurance over one’s own abilities or qualities. The key word is “pretending.” When you have to fake confidence you don’t really believe you’re good at what you’re doing or that you possess those personal “qualities.” Following are some ways to differentiate truly confident people from people who fake it:
"Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too" ~ Will Smith
Even the most ambitious, motivated people occasionally have difficulties getting things done. The good news is that we can often discover why we’re in a slump. Even better, there are ways to get out of the slump and get motivated again.
Here’s 6 ways to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing.
1. Figure out why you’re in a slump.
Here are some of the reasons you may be in a slump:
2. When you’re dreading something, make it almost impossible to NOT do the task.
For example, if you know you want to workout in the morning, try placing your workout clothes next to your bed so they’re the first thing you see when you wake up. Also, call a friend and make plans to meet them at the gym in the morning. Having an accountability partner will increase your likelihood of success.
3. When you’re tired, take care of your body.
Some days, you might need rest. Other days, your body might need exercise. Some days, you just may need to get away from your desk and get some fresh air. Think about how your habits have been recently. Have you been getting adequate rest? Have you been choosing healthy foods and beverages? Have you had a recent illness that has left you feeling rundown? Think about how you’ve been treating your body. Taking great care of your body may help you get out of your slump.
4. When you’re lacking confidence, think about WHY you’re doubting your capabilities.
Are you struggling with negative thinking? Has there been a recent negative comment or event in your life that has been bothering you? Are you comparing yourself to other people? When you’re struggling with negative thinking, give yourself a compliment, or do something fun to rejuvenate your joy.
5. When you’re in the middle of your journey, persevere.
When you set out to achieve a big goal, it’s usually pretty easy to be very motivated at the beginning. At the beginning, you think about the end result, and you are full of anticipation and enthusiasm. It’s also pretty easy to be motivated at the end of a long journey. Once the end is in sight, the excitement of seeing the finish line can propel you forward.
In my opinion, the middle of the journey is usually the hardest. In the middle, the initial excitement has diminished, but you haven’t gotten close to your goal yet. In the middle, you realize exactly how much time and effort is required to complete your journey. You get frustrated and frequently face the difficulty of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward.
In the middle, keep thinking about your “why.” What are the personal, meaningful, and strong reasons you wanted to achieve your goal in the first place? Oftentimes, remembering our “why” can help give us a boost of motivation when we’re in a slump. Also, remember what Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Keep moving when you’re in the middle. Commit to taking daily actions that move you closer to your end goal, even if they’re extremely tiny actions. Just keep moving.
6. Remember that the slump won’t last forever, and take action immediately to start getting out of it.
Start moving forward with tiny little steps. Remember that perseverance can make a huge difference in your success. Remember that success is a wild journey with many bumps and bends in the road, and not typically the straight line that people envision. Remember that moving forward when you’re not feeling motivated helps you push through your fears, get out of your comfort zone, and win the mental battles you have with yourself. Each step you take during the difficult times helps you feel more confident and capable, and gives you the momentum to continue to move out of your slump.
Any time you set out to achieve something in your life, you will face resistance. That resistance can leave you feeling unmotivated and cause you to sink into a slump. However, pushing through the resistance and taking action to get out of your slump will help set you up for long-term success. When you realize you really can get yourself motivated on your bad days, you will know in the future how to get yourself through additional rough times.
Everyone has the occasional slump. Recognizing the cause of your lack of motivation, and taking action to quickly get out of your slump will help minimize your down time and maximize your success.
I always found myself drawn to people who had an element of certainty to them. It wasn’t the kind of insufferable single-mindedness of powerful people, nor was it the brazen overconfidence of youth. It wasn’t that they necessarily knew more than others, nor did they claim to. They didn’t always get things right, and that wasn’t their end game anyway. I’m not sure what the word was at the time to describe this it-factor. What I knew was that they had reasons – clearly defined, purposeful reasons for why they were doing what they were doing or saying what they were saying or behaving how they were behaving. And not in a carefully-curated, image-conscious way, because they were genuine people. It simply was never willy-nilly with them; they didn’t use the phrase “oh, just because.” Looking back, they were probably best described as intentional.
Sunday school taught me the various du`a’s (supplications) for niyyah (intention). I learned to make intentions before a prayer, before a fast. I was reminded to renew my intentions often, particularly when doing community work. But it wasn’t until later that I could understand the concept broadened to a lifestyle. The first of Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith, “Actions are according to intention,” is a succinct illustration of the power of intention and the link between our hearts and our deeds. It implies a necessary connection of one’s internal and external states. In a goal-focused, action-oriented culture, it is the internal state that is so easily neglected, and it is cultivated in large part by this quality of being intentional.
Living intentionally is different from setting goals. Goals are yet another outward measure, an accomplishment set in the future, whereas being intentional is an inward existence, and one focused on the present. If goals are the mile markers on our life’s path, intention is our day-to-day walk along it – the pace we’re going at and the route we traverse upon. Without goals, we are caught in a drift, with little direction until we find ourselves asking, perhaps years later, “What am I doing here?” But without intention, we might find ourselves in an arguably worse situation: “What was the purpose of all this?” Intention gives meaning to our movement.
The value of intentional living is hardly taught and often lost, but establishing it results in a much more enriching existence. What I saw in individuals who practiced this skill was how purposeful they were and how much more of life they experienced. And it is a skill, which means it can be learned. Here’s what I have found to be a few ways to develop it:
Change the question
On a more macro level, start shifting the question from asking yourself, “What do I want to get done today/next week/this year?” to, “How do I want to be today/next week/this year?” On a micro level, ask yourself why you are doing the things you’re doing as they occur. Why am I participating in this activity? Why am I posting this status on Facebook? Why am I sharing this thing told to me in confidence, or why am I not sharing more of myself in this relationship?
Be mindful of the moment
Being intentional, by definition, requires us to be engaged with ourselves in the present. For those not introspective to begin with, start with mindful ‘extrospection’ – noticing things around you that you otherwise miss as you move about your day. Being present with your environment can help you better connect with yourself.
Examine your past
Whether it’s at the end of the day, the end of the year, or looking back all the way to your childhood, reflecting upon your past actions for their intentions gives you a better framework from which to either continue those or make changes. Your own history is the best determinant of your future.
Just do it. And then keep doing it, before every action, big or small.
Samaiya Mushtaq is a resident physician training in psychiatry. She is particularly interested in the intersection of mental health, wellness, and spirituality in Muslim populations.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.”
I was once a morning person.
Every day at a time when the rest of the world were a few hours into their sleep, I would wake up and get up from bed within a few seconds. I would then make wudhu before returning to my room to pray the night prayer and read Qur’an. There would usually be a considerable amount of time before Fajr so you would find me doing my homework/revising/reading until Fajr. Sleep was nowhere near as exciting as these moments and a little nap before I had to get ready for school was more than sufficient.
I understood everything I studied and with time I started to build a relationship with the Qur’an where I would not be able to leave it. My concentration and focus were on point in everything that I did and I enjoyed an immense vigour and energy in learning that I have not felt since.
Regrettably, it is something I have lost gradually over the past few years and I crave its return more than anything. Therefore, having previously experienced the barakah (blessings) of the mornings, I can truly say that success does lie in the mornings, and I pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) allows myself and others to seize this remarkable treasure of time from now onwards.
“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer, he or she is then under Allah’s protection. So beware, O son or daughter of Adam, that Allah does not call you to account for being absent from His protection for any reason.”
No wonder there is something very special about this time in the morning. To be under the guard of The One who created us and the very world we live in is indeed an extraordinary endowment. Imagine having the protection of the most powerful being that has ever existed for the rest of the day, every day. Is it not worth winning the battle of the bed for this?
Some of the greatest people in history seized these very hours, which is why they managed to achieve exponentially more than we are able to using the same 24 hours in each day. This portion of time is what allows us to train ourselves, prepare our minds, our hearts, our characters ready to take on the rest of the world and the rest of the day. It is a time were we reconnect with our mission and our purpose. We meet with God to begin our days and we are no longer lost like the man without a mission, wandering aimlessly throughout the day.
It is prime time. Contrary to popular belief it is a time where we possess our highest levels of focus, willpower and energy; we unlock these treasures only when we know how to seize this gift from Allah (swt), and what a gift it is. What better way is there to start our days than by meeting with God? What better way is there than by receiving His Protection? Fajr sets the tone for the day. The word itself means dawn in Arabic and is derived from the root word infijar, to ’burst forth’. This denotes the sunlight erupting into the darkness of the night at that time of morning,illuminating the world, replacing darkness with light, clarity and vitality. Likewise, this time of day replaces the darkness in our hearts with light, clarity, and vitality.
And you know what is really amazing about this gift?
It is offered to us every single day.
Every single day we are being given the chance to change our spiritual architecture for the better. We can start each day equipped with a psychological edge and incredible mental confidence that carries through for the next 24 hours. It’s like a kaleidoscope. This barakah from Allah (swt) is like a kaleidoscope, a chain reaction. Once we are able to overcome the struggle within ourselves in the morning, it then opens more and more doors to success. Once seizing the morning becomes hardwired into our minds, it then becomes easier to incorporate other facets of discipline into our lives.
And that is how Allah (swt) guides the believers. We walk towards Him and He runs towards us. He gives and gives and gives.
The question is, will we take it?
We have awoken, and all of creation has awoken, for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. Allah, I ask You for the best the day has to offer, victory, support, light, blessings and guidance; and I seek refuge in You from the evil in it, and the evil to come after it. Ameen.
Motivating yourself to start an exercise program and to keep it up can be the hardest part of getting fit. Fortunately, there are 10 ways you can motivate yourself to get off the couch and on the road to fitness. Once you do get into the habit of exercising, you may wonder how you ever enjoyed life without it.
1. Dress the part
Buy some flattering exercise clothes. Put them on first thing in the morning and look in the mirror. You have taken the first step. That was easy! Now, go to the gym and let everyone see how good you look in those workout clothes.
2. Find your favorite fitness routine
Explore as many forms of fitness as you can. Try tennis, swimming, zumba and yoga, whatever looks like fun. Trial and error can help identify which fitness regimen works best for you. Some people prefer to exercise alone while others enjoy the camaraderie of a group. You can decide which you prefer or whether you want to do both. One advantage to group exercise is that you might work out for longer in a class that sets a time limit. Another advantage of group fitness is making friends, which may provide the motivation to show up. Exercise classes can provide a social support network.
3. Exercise when it works best for you
If you’re an early riser, consider exercising before anything distracts you. If you need to unwind after work, evening classes could be just the thing. And if you’re really busy, jumping on that fitness game’s balance board whenever there’s time may work quite well. Experiment with different exercise times and schedules until you find which make it easiest.
4. Make exercise fun
Make exercise fun, advises the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Don’t think of exercise as a chore because you might resent it. Listen to music while you run. Look for beautiful scenery to walk alongside. Pick a class or a sport you really enjoy. The fun component will make it enjoyable rather than something you have to do.
5. Buddy up and take advantage of your friends
Studies show that working out with a friend does increase the likelihood that you will stay motivated.
6. Jog your memory as to why you exercise
As important as those reasons are, you may forget all about them when the couch is so comfortable and it’s raining outside. Remind yourself how much better you feel and look after fitness efforts. Focus on your goal. Maybe you want to impress your ex partner or multiply your dating chances?
What exactly are you after? Do you want killer abs? Do you want to look good in that tiny dress? Maybe you want to maintain flexibility so you can play with the grandkids. Maybe you want to get in shape for the vacation of a lifetime. Visualize that success. Keep your eyes on the prize.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
Yes, that person sitting next to you in yoga can easily twist herself into a pretzel while minutes in the downward dog posture gets you winded, but you still benefit by trying. If you stick with it, you will be more flexible, have more endurance and feel better about yourself. Maybe one day you too will be able to twist yourself into a pretzel or even run a 10K.
8. Reward yourself
You worked hard. You deserve it. After a morning exercise session, treat yourself to brunch with your exercise buddies. Or buy a bouquet of flowers on the way home from exercise class. Once you lose a few inches, it may be time to treat yourself to a new wardrobe.
9. Consider the price of not going out to exercise
When deciding whether to stay couch-bound or head out, remember how you feel after you do exercise. Better, right? Then remember how sluggish you feel when you don’t. Also consider how long it will take you to get back in shape if you miss a few sessions. You really don’t want to go there.
10. Challenge yourself
Challenges keep exercise interesting. You may start out with plenty of enthusiasm but after a while your favorite fitness activity can start to feel like more of the same. A micro challenge makes it a fun game. Try working out with heavier weights or add a few more minutes of walking on the track. Or try another form of exercise. It’s good to mix things up. Social media offers a new way to promote exercise as you can challenge friends to work out.
Getting and staying motivated can be a challenge but once you get fit, fitness could become your favorite new habit.
To the heart that is numb,
Standing in taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) while everyone is weeping – except you. Your friends talk about how exhilarating fasting is for them – but all you feel is irritation; and that is if you feel anything at all. Your du`as (supplications) are just words you repeat – without heart.
What is the point of all of it? Your actions are robotic. Monotone. Without soul.
You wish you could be like that person praying next to you in taraweeh who sobs during every prostration. You want to be the one passionately pleading with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) with humility. Your hope is that you can be that person whose heart is broken before God.
You know what, though? You, too, are special to Allah (swt).
You who recites the Qur’an because you know it is good.
You who prays because Allah (swt) commanded you to.
You who attends lectures on Islam because you want to feel closer to Him.
The Prophet ﷺ told us that the person who recites the Qur’an and struggles with the recitation receives twice the reward: for their recitation and for their effort and struggle. Ibn Al-Qayyim used this hadith (tradition of the Prophet ﷺ) as the basis for his statement that the person who struggles to be devoted in prayer gets twice the reward: for the parts that he was devoted, and for his struggle to stay focused.
As long as you are trying, Allah (swt) is with you.
The fact that you get up to pray qiyaam (night prayer) even though you feel nothing is appreciated by Allah (swt). When you mouth the words to your du`a even when your heart is numb, Allah (swt) knows how you feel. And you are rewarded for that. Do not think that this will go to waste.
Allah (swt) gets it.
Because you are not worshiping a feeling. You do not bow down solely for that ‘high’. You prostrate only to the Lord of the feelings and the One who is the Most High. You submit to Him – through your prayers, fasting and supplication – because you know you have a Merciful, Just, Appreciative, Forgiving God, Who has the power to give life to everything that is dead.
Including your heart.
You know you have a Nurturing, Patient, Generous, Subtle and Kind Lord who is can bring back whatever is lost.
He can bring you back.
So to the heart that is numb: Do not give up just yet. Your heart is on a journey. You are first and foremost worshiping your Lord. And He has promised you:
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an, 29:69)
As long as you are doing good, Allah (swt) will guide you and He is with you. Do you know what that means?
Imam Ash-Shawkani stated that Allah (swt) being with someone means more care, honoring and preference for the person.
And you what else? Allah loves what you do. He tells us:
“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them affection.” (Qur’an, 19:96)
Allah will not only love you, but He will show that love for you. He will bestow His affection upon you, and your heart will feel it.
So keep trekking. Your heart will open – He is, after all, al-Fattah. Al-Fattah is He who opens whatever is closed; your heart included. You might wonder when and how, but just know that it will happen. It could be on the last night of Ramadan or it could be a month after Ramadan – your heart will open, God willing. The daily exercise you do might not look like much, but you will inevitably see the results if you persevere. Similarly, your good actions slowly chip away at what has been hardening your heart and, eventually, you will feel.
And if it gets too much, just talk to Allah (swt). Tell Him how you feel, and tell Him how you want to feel. Do it every night, and every time you feel empty. God is there; never underestimate your turning to Him. ‘Turning to Him’ does not just mean prayers and supplications; you can just tell Him what is in your heart.
On the Day of Judgment, you will be grateful for your perseverance and your hope in Him, because it will matter more than you will ever know. So push yourself and exert all the effort you can muster. The tiniest ray of light can brighten the darkest of places.
A fellow heart that is* numb
One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is to desire things based on their impulses. It’s like a child being distracted by something shiny. Soon enough a shinier thing will come along and before you know it the novelty has worn off. That is why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. You get swept up in the moment. Everyone is drinking champagne and at midnight, when the fireworks are blazing in the night sky, idealistic new beginnings appear on the horizon. Through your bleary eyed haze, all those new goals feel undeniably attainable.Even if you manage to achieve some of those ill planned goals, the satisfaction you anticipated does not fulfill your perceived desire. You wonder if it was worth starting the new health regime, looking for a new career or committing to that course to improve yourself. The recurrent thought that people have is ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’.
Here are Five things to consider when you are setting goals, to avoid sabotaging your own success.
1. Explore your own needs
Establish goals based on your own desires, not external influences or the need to please others. Ask yourself what you truly want and what will make you happy. Think about your motivation and try different things. Let your own personal experiences inform your decisions and don’t be afraid to push your own boundaries. You should also consider the short, medium and long term impact that a particular goal will have on your life. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to be healthier, make more money, travel to a place you’ve never been, explore a creative outlet? These aren’t easy questions to answer and deserve your time and attention. Take time to formulate your goals. It’s your life.
2. Consider Authority Bias
Authority Bias refers to the way in which we can be influenced by people we look up to and make their goals our own. Decisions are subconsciously informed by experiences and the authority figures in our lives. It begins at home with parents, extending to peers and teachers in our formative years and then developing further through mentors and experts such as bosses or idols throughout adulthood. Research your desires and goals and broaden your horizons. Ask questions and seek answers from unpredictable sources. You don’t need wealth to live a full and independent life, just a broadened mind. Seize every opportunity and seek out new experiences. Find your individuality and revel in the things that make you unique. You can still find commonality with others and look up to those you admire while still retaining your own distinct qualities.
3. Avoid the Sunk-Cost Fallacy
Often we fall into the trap of thinking that we have wasted previous investment of time and money into a particular goal and so feel obliged to finish what we started. You can change your mind. All learning is valuable and anything you have invested into achieving a goal is worthwhile. It is all part of the process, even if it has shown you that you are on the wrong path. Try to be aware of the bigger picture, while at the same time focusing on the immediate decisions you make and living each moment as it comes. When you aim for happiness and satisfaction as the end result of each goal, the journey you take to get there is just a detail. The end will justify the means.
4. Goals vs strategies
Work out the difference between what you want and how you will get it. CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage, Peter Winick says,
“Strategy is an exercise in problem solving…….Goals that support the strategy are critical, but goals do not solve problems. Goals are a measure of progress. Goals support the strategy.” Strategy Is Not the Same as Goal Setting, Thought Leadership Leverage.
The steps and decisions required to move you forward can be broken down into smaller and more attainable goals; all culminating and contributing to the ultimate goal you have set for yourself, but they are not goals in themselves. Strategies are the choices you make, the tiny bites you take to get you to your destination.
5. Self belief and determination
Setting goals can seem daunting and sometimes we set goals that are so unattainable, just a shiny dangling carrot, that we have already set ourselves up to fail before we’ve even begun. Self sabotage, creating limitations, looking for obstacles and making excuses prevent us from achieving our goals. The flaw is not only in the goal, it taints the strategy. When you set realistic goals and are true to your own desires, the choices you make happen naturally and easily. Having self belief and learning to trust your instinct will ensure you make the right choices to take you closer to achieving your goals. Stop comparing yourself to others and keep your eyes on the prize.
So many things to do, so little time.
In a world where things move at rapid pace and people get impatient waiting for anything longer than 5 seconds, it feels like there are tons of things on our plates.
There’s that urgent email we need to get back to, a project that needs finishing, and of course, time off with friends and family (if there’s even time left).
The more work we have in front of us, the easier it is to get into a frantic state of mind.
I noticed that busy people often work on tasks that they think need to be done, but are actually counterproductive. I’ve managed to pinpoint these habits in my own life and replace them with better habits.
Here are a few things you should stop doing if you want to get more done:
1. Trying to do everything at once
Do you ever see those people who are completely frazzled?
They’re pulling their hair, running from place to place, and barely have time to breathe. It’s like they’re trying to do everything and completely panicking.
I used to think people like this got more done. That is, until I saw their results. I then realized that trying to do everything prevents you from getting really good at anything.
Trying to do everything is an indicator of lack of decisiveness, not ambition. So if you want to become an expert at something, it means saying no to other opportunities – at least for now.
For instance, top ranked tennis player Serena Williams is into fashion and has her own clothing line. But when she first started out, she focused all her energy on becoming the top female tennis player. Her fashion business came later.
Become the best in one area, and then branch out later.
2. Micromanaging everything
Micromanagement is a common problem for perfectionists who need everything to be done their way. They tend to hover over other people’s work, and try doing things that could have been done more easily by someone else.
The worst part about micromanaging is that other people feel smothered and dissatisfied that their work isn’t respected.
Instead of looking over every single detail, try to focus more on the big picture. Loosen the reins to give others some decision-making power (to a certain extent). It’ll be better for your health and well-being.
When you learn to let go of some things, you’ll find that you can accomplish more of your goals.
3. Just winging it
I remember back in school when we had to prepare presentations for the class. There was always someone who would say, “I’m just going to wing it!”
Chances are, that person wasn’t performing at the top of the class. Even if they were, the person wasn’t actually winging it.
High-achieving people are proactive, rather than reactive. They prepare relentlessly and practice daily so that when the time comes, their performance is flawless.
I like to get ready for the next day by preparing myself the evening before by using the Page Turner Technique. Doing so keeps me organized and calm, even when things get hectic.
If you want to excel, don’t wing it. Practice instead.
4. Not giving yourself any free time
A common misconception is that successful people work day and night non-stop. They don’t have time for fun or games.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Creative people and innovators often need spare time in order to explore. By taking time to relax, they can reflect on obstacles they face and see them from a different perspective.
Arianna Huffington herself said that sleep is the secret to success. So often, we think that not having any time to rest is a badge of honor that we wear proudly. Instead, we should think about getting more sleep to re-energize, become happier, and get more done.
If you want to feel refreshed and creative, try taking a break from your work.
5. Skipping lunch
A friend bragged to me the other day that she had worked for 18 hours a day, non-stop. She revealed that she frequently forgets to eat because she’s so busy.
On the other hand, another friend gets lots of sleep and cooks his own food. He has more spare time and energy for hobbies. Guess who burned out eventually?
Skipping meals lowers your energy and concentration levels, so that you get less work done for each hour you put in. It also leads to increased cravings for foods that are quick fixes, like junk food and sweets.
I find that preparing my lunch beforehand helps to set up my day right so that I don’t have to look around for something unhealthy to quickly satisfy my hunger. It also gives me one less thing to worry about.
Every morning I wake up and wish I hadn’t.
The months, weeks and days pass with me wishing it’ll be the last, and yet there’s no end.
At nighttime I cry faintly into my pillow with tears streaming down my cheeks. I whimper in pain, attempting to suppress the sounds that leave my room; I don’t want my family to hear.
I whisper, “Oh Allah, I don’t want to live anymore. Oh Allah, please, I don’t want to live anymore.”
I feel broken. I feel alone. I feel empty inside. I am in pain and numb at the same time. Perhaps my pain is so much now that I can no longer distinguish it. It is a physical pain—a weight on my chest crushing my existence, crushing my hopes and dreams.
I pray five times a day, I make du`a’ (supplications), I say astaghfirullah (I ask forgiveness from Allah) throughout the day and read as much Qur’an as I can. But it’s hard. I have no motivation to keep going. I don’t know what I’m moving towards. My goals and hopes have all slowly faded away.
I am a façade of who I once was. I constantly lie about how I feel. I must keep up appearances. I smile and laugh when I must. I have to maintain relationships, or else the loneliness will only get worse. I would rather be in this dungeon that I’m in, alone; but my mind knows that the loneliness will only make it worse. I don’t want to unload the hurt I feel onto others. So, I fake a smile and try to converse with family and friends. It is tiring, but I do it. It is a part of living and for now I must live.
I don’t want to be a burden and I don’t want others to pity me.
I don’t pity myself. I am not ungrateful. I am thankful. I am thankful for all the blessings Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has bestowed upon me. I do not complain to others. I try to complain only to Allah (swt). Yaqub `alayhi assalam (peace be upon him) endured the pain of being separated from his beloved Yusuf (as) for many years. Maryam (as) lay beneath a palm tree while in the throes of labor, wishing Allah (swt) had taken her life and spared her from those moments of despair. Musa (as), a fugitive from the land of Pharaoh, found himself without family, wealth, or possessions—he had nothing. Poor and desperate, all he was able to cry was “My Lord, I am in need of any good that you send me.”
So I complain to Allah (swt) of the pain and sadness I cannot explain. I keep asking, most times not knowing what to say. Just hoping and praying and wishing for salvation from this suffering.
I don’t know how to explain depression. How do I explain it to family and friends? I heard someone once describe depression as an ever-lingering constant sadness, even when everything in your life is going well.
It is a total loss of pleasure.
Nothing gives me pleasure anymore.
I’m so tired, yet no amount of sleep nourishes me. Eating has become work. Brushing my teeth, answering phone calls, replying to emails; simply existing has become tiresome. I know my pain is not physical to others, but my pain is real. I feel it in every moment. When I sleep, when I eat, when I laugh, when I cry, when I speak. My pain is hidden beneath it all.
No one wishes to be around someone filled with such overwhelming sadness and gloom. No one wants to hear how my mind aches every day, that I have given up my hopes and dreams or that I wish Allah (swt) would take my life quickly and subtly. My heart hurts every day. I wish I could take a hold of the heart within me, and sever it from my being. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like this. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel dead inside.
I think of death all the time. It plays in the background now. I have never understood suicide. But now I do. I wonder about taking my life. Maybe overdose on my medications. But there’s never enough to overdose on. Psychiatrists know suicide is always an option for the depressed, so they are careful when they medicate. When I am driving, I imagine what would happen if I made a slight abrupt turn into a tree. But maybe I wouldn’t die. Maybe I would find myself paralyzed and that would be a worse existence, for then I’d still be alive, but now a physical burden to my family. But the truth is, I am still too scared of Allah (swt) and the Hellfire to ever commit such a sin. I know suicide is not an option. Faith has limited me to only entertaining such an end, but never to commit to it.
I would never wish what I feel upon another human being. I have no energy or zest for life, and no one cares. The two or three people that know cannot empathize. They only offer support when I reach out to them, but I don’t want to be a burden. Can’t they reach out to me? Can’t they ask how I’m doing? Can’t they tell when I say, “Alhamdulillah (all praise be to Allah), I’m okay,” that I’m not okay? Can’t they put themselves in my shoes? I so desperately want someone to save me, yet I know only I can save myself. I can use the help of medication, of faith, of family, of friends, but only I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to reach it one day.
But I could use some help.
People say: “Don’t worry, trust Allah.” “This is just a phase. You’ll get over this.” “Be thankful for your life. You’re not dying.”
But I feel like I am, why can’t they understand?
They may think depression is a first-world problem. Maybe it is; maybe not. I thought depression was something the weak-spirited suffered. I thought Allah (swt) was enough. I thought medications were simply a bandage. But I’ve realized, unfortunately too personally, that depression is not black and white. It is not something that one can wish away. It is a battle that only the strongest of will win. I know it will take me every fiber of my being to kill this silent lurking monster.
Even though no one sees the emotional pain and mental agony of depression; I am here to tell you, it is real. Whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a bad test score or absolutely nothing you can put your finger on—it is real. And you cannot let it get worse. Whether you are the one suffering or someone around you is. We must notice the person who isn’t as cheery as they once were. We must notice the drastic behavior changes in the person we once knew. Notice physical changes: weight loss, weight gain, dark circles, lethargy, unexplained headaches, missed school days and work days.
Please, help someone around you who is suffering. Maybe they are suffering for unknown reasons; maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe they have been depressed for a couple of days or maybe they have been depressed for months. Whatever the case, if you can help- help.
We need to be there for our sister, our brother, our friend, our coworker, our daughter, our son, our student, our neighbor who is suffering. We need to help them. We must not let it get worse. We must not let them fall into an abyss of complete despair.
We must be forgiving for the missed phone calls and the broken promises and the little changes that make us question our relationship. Be forgiving. Be empathetic. Understand that in the fog of depression, human beings make bad decisions, say things they wish they hadn’t and do things they never would. The regret kills them from within. They are miserable, and they don’t know how to tell anyone. The smile they force hides a world of pain and despair. Notice the fake smile and the blank stares and ask, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just tired.” “Oh, I think I’m getting sick.” “Just a little stressed.” Don’t let these answers distract you. Say: “I’m here for you. If you’re going through anything at all, you can talk to me. Don’t forget that.”
Know that depression lies to the sufferer. It tells them: “You are worthless. The world would be better without you. You are a burden to your family. You are not smart enough. You are not religious enough. You are not beautiful/ handsome enough. You will never reach your goals. You are nothing and you are all alone.” This loneliness consumes the individual, completely paralyzing them.
Tell them they are not alone. Keep texting, keep calling, keep emailing. Just be there. Don’t let their indifference, or their excuses dissuade you. So many are suffering silently because they believe no one cares. But keep trying. It will make a difference. It will make all the difference. Everyone notices a broken leg but no one notices a broken spirit. Don’t be the person that lets months go by while a friend or an acquaintance falls deeper and deeper into his/ her depression.
And once they’ve revealed their “secret”, don’t leave them. Don’t forget them. Don’t let weeks pass by without checking up on them. And when you do reach out, don’t simply say: “It’s going to be okay. Just perk up. Be thankful. Don’t just sit around all day. Get out of bed. Call me whenever you need.” Though well-intentioned, this is not enough. Being there for a person who is depressed is mentally and emotionally draining. They will not call you. They will not be the first to reach out. They do not want to be a burden to you.
I do not want to be a burden to my family and friends. So I will not call and I may not reply until the third text. I know it’s selfish, but that’s what I need now. And I do not want someone to tell me to be thankful. I am already thankful. I pray to Allah (swt) every day, and spend hours thanking Him for what He has given me, in tears. And I ask Him to forgive me for feeling how I feel. I tell Him how hurt I am and how ungrateful I feel. I ask Him why I feel like this. I ask Him to help me. I know I can’t ask Him to take my life, so I ask Him what I’m allowed to: “Grant me life as long as it is good for me, and grant me death when it is better for me.” Always hoping the latter is what is better.
If we want to be pillars of support for those who are suffering, it will require effort. Over and over and over again.
I am writing this having suffered this overwhelming illness for about more than a year. I am okay today, so I am able to write this. Yesterday I was a mess, inconsolably crying filled with anxiety and despair. I am writing this because I want to tell you how I feel. And I want anyone suffering like me to know that there are others that are observant, struggling Muslims and that they feel the way you are feeling. And that you should see a psychiatrist, that you can take medication if that’s what you need right now, and that it is okay to tell the people who you love. And finally, always remember- even when people disappoint you, Allah (swt) will never. He is always there and He will always be there for you. If He has kept you breathing, He has a purpose for you, insha`Allah (by the will of God).
“…And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from an unexpected source. And when someone puts all his trust in Allah, He will be enough for him.” [Qur’an, 65:2-3]
May Allah (swt) cure you all of your illnesses, your distresses, your pains and grant you the best of healing. Ameen.
In our journey to gain tranquility of the heart, we explored what we need to know when faced with difficult situations. We need to understand that Allah has told us we will be tested, that these tests are for a reason, and that there will be relief insha’Allah (God willing). When we are worried thinking about the future, we need to work hard but have full trust in Allah that He will not leave us, and we must always think well of Allah because that is what we will find.
Yet in certain circumstances we just feel… broken. Perhaps it is the death of someone close, perhaps a hurtful word, or perhaps a reason we can not pinpoint. Yet this feeling of brokenness can be an invitation to be better acquainted with al-Jabbar.
But isn’t al-Jabbar one of the Names that indicates Majesty and Strength, not Mercy and Beauty?
The root of al-Jabbar is ja-ba-ra and has a wide variety of meanings indicating Allah’s strength and majesty, which Sr. Amatullah explained to us in this excellent article. One of the basic meanings of this name is the One who compels and restores, and demonstrates Allah’s Majesty and Strength over His servants. This is a Name for the tyrants and oppressors to be aware of, because their misdeeds will not go unpunished.
Yet this Name has another dimension: al-Jabbar is the One who is able to restore and mend what is broken. Some of the great scholars would supplicate “Ya Jaabir kul kaseer” when they were faced with overwhelming difficulty, meaning “Oh You who mends everything that is broken.” The Arabic word for a splint that is used to help an arm heal when it is broken is “jibeera” from the same root ja-ba-ra. Thus, when we feel broken, we need to go to the only One who can mend our state–al-Jabbar. Sometimes when we get this broken feeling, shaytan (satan) tells us not to go to Allah because we are being hypocritical by only going to Allah when we are down. Yet this is untrue– Allah has named Himself al-Jabbar and given Himself this attribute; you cannot go to the One whose attribute is mending what is broken, and not be healed by Him.
The example of the Prophet ﷺ is a beautiful one. Imagine being 50 years old, having just lost both your wife of twenty-five years and your uncle who took care of you as a child. Imagine walking into a town in order to ask people for their protection, and instead have them throw stones at you until your feet bleed. How would you have felt? How exhausted, both spiritually and physically, would you have been? And yet, the Prophet ﷺ calls out to Allah in one of the most beautiful and heartfelt du`a’ (supplication):
“O Allah! To you alone I complain my weakness, my scarcity of resources, and the humiliation I have been subjected to by people. O Most Merciful of those who have mercy! You are the Lord of the weak, and You are My Lord too.
To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair?
But as long as You are not angry with me, I do no care, except that Your favor is a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descend upon me.
Yours is the right to reproach until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.”
Read those words carefully. The du`a’ of the Prophet ﷺ was not “O Allah, please give me x and y.” It was literally the call of someone broken– complaining to Allah of his situation and expressing to Allah how he felt. What did Allah give him? A young boy by the name of Addaas saw the Prophet ﷺ, came to him with some grapes and kissed his bleeding feet. That is al-Jabbar. Imagine how the Prophet ﷺ must have felt after that, the relief he must have felt after the cruelty he was subjected to. And al-Jabbar healed the broken heart of the Prophet ﷺ in another way – He bestowed upon him the miraculous journey of al-Israa wal Mi’raaj (when the Prophet ﷺ traveled from Makkah to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to the Heavens in one night).
If we think about the journey, it did not accomplish a great victory nor did it help to convince the Quraysh that he was a Prophet. Rather, Allah honored him after all the hardship he had gone through. Think of the resolve the Prophet ﷺ must have had in his heart and the tranquility he must have felt after such an experience.
Therefore, we have to always remind ourselves of this blessed name al-Jabbar; Allah will mend your broken heart. It may be through a kind word from someone that brightens your day or it may be a talk that you attend. It may even be something greater. But call on Allah like the Prophet ﷺ did, recognizing this attribute, and know that He will manifest this Name in your life.
It creeps up on you, sometimes—knowing that you’ve changed. You didn’t realize, you still don’t know, how it happened. And the scary thing is that this change was a fundamental part of you. It was all of who you thought you were. It was your destination and your journey. But you lost it. Now, you feel distant from God, Who was at one point your only purpose.
The loss of a connection to God is the scariest thing that can happen to a person. You can remember what it felt like to go to sleep remembering God and to wake up thinking of Him. He was your Best Friend. You remember how you molded your character to be something that He loves. You remember when every cell of your body was energized, ready to work hard for His sake. And most of all, you remember the tranquility. You didn’t worry. You knew al-Wakeel (the Trustee) would take care of you.
But right now, you’re in such a different place. You don’t even recognize yourself anymore. You want to be in that place you were before so much, and you want to know how you didn’t even notice the gradual fall. Can you even go back?
Ask the one who was trapped in the belly of a whale. Ask him how he felt about that fall from grace. The guilt, the humility, the longing that can all be summed up in the phrase he repeated over and over:
“[…] There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an 21:87)
And what was the result? God tells us, “And had he not been of those who exalt Allah, he would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.” (Qur’an 37:143-144)
So Prophet Yunus (Jonah) `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), the companion of the whale, was saved. He was saved because he turned to Allah and never gave up. We can remain in darkness, if we choose to. It is those, and only those, who believe that there is no way back who never return.
To those that say, “I used to be religious,” or even, “I was never religious”, there is always a way back. When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Allah is happier about the repentance of one His slaves, than one of you would be about finding your camel which had strayed away from you in the middle of the desert,” (agreed upon). He ﷺ is also talking to those of us who have strayed. Tawba is to return. It is not simply to repent after committing a hideous sin, although that is a big part of it. He is also talking to those of us who wonder if we can ever recover or achieve that zeal and energy and purpose. We need to return.
So don’t give up. Don’t give in to that feeling that tells you to do the bare minimum. Allahsubhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) would not create you to be a useless addition to this world. You can be something special—something special to Him—if you don’t give up. If you take that step. Why are we reminded by the Prophet ﷺ in so many sayings that Allah (swt) accepts the servant who returns? Why are we told when we come one step closer to Allah (swt), He comes to us at speed? It is to remind us that Allah (swt) wants us to reach our potential, to take that first step despite the fact that the first step might be the hardest.
If you haven’t woken up for fajr (the pre-dawn prayer) for years, set five alarms today. Make a sincere du`a’ (supplication) to Allah (swt) before you sleep. Do it over and over again. Seek forgiveness and plead with Him to let you pray. You will not be disappointed. If you once had a big dream for your community but were dejected by people telling you to “be real,” pick up where you left off. Even if they are right and you never make it, because your intention was for Him, you already made it. Any achievement in this dunya (worldly life) is temporary, but “[…] indeed, the home of the Hereafter – that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew.” (Qur’an 29:64)
Don’t give in. “[…] Despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (Qur’an 12:87)
I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we're all teachers - if we're willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.
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