Sabr

When I was younger (which was donkey years ago…I’m just kidding), I liked to read a lot of self-help books aside from the usual romances.

I believe it started when my mum handed me the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” and while I loved the little cartoons, I was also pretty impressed by how the things we do affect the way we think. Hey, when you are at that age, discovering that felt like a revelation. As more time passed, I grew curious about understanding why or how people do things and I suppose that led me to behavioral psychology.

Anyway, it got me thinking of how psychology was first like back then for other people. I suppose not so many bought in to the ideas and maybe it was thought of as a “fluffy yet not so meaningful” form of science more so when society may be all about the money and health. Then somewhere down the line, mental health became a concrete issue and mental conditions were longer just “a phase of life” akin to puberty that troubled individuals go through. Somewhere down the line, companies started to realize performance is tied to people and that whether they may like it or not, they need to be also concerned about the welfare of their employees.

The thing about ideas or schools of thought in general is how you often need buy in. People often need to first be aware then be stimulated in a way that adds value to them to buy into ideas. Psychology is actually a big part of our lives as the mind affects the way we behave and also where we get to in the future. Far too often, we have heard of things that seem ludicrous at first yet as time passes, it is as though those things have existed forever in our lives.It takes consistency of actions for these ideas to take shape and be executed; the actions of a few individuals would already be enough.

How many of us have big dreams? Probably too many, but how many of us are willing to walk the talk and actually keep at it and really achieve those dreams? There is this quote by Tony Robbins that says: “People are not lazy, they simply have impotent goals… that is… goals that do not inspire them.” It makes me think that maybe though we may have big dreams there is the underlying factor that maybe we do not “feel” them strongly enough to be consistent about it. Of course we could be lazy too sometimes, but the idea is that if you want it badly enough because you feel strongly about it, then you are more likely to work hard until you finally achieve it. Against all odds.

In Islam too, we are taught the concept of sabr, which honestly can be misconstrued at times.

“Sabr is often translated as patience but it is not just that. It includes self-control, perseverance, endurance, and a focused struggle to achieve one’s goal. Unlike patience, which implies resignation, the concept of Sabr includes a duty to remain steadfast to achieve your goals despite all odds.”

How many times after a calamity or something challenging, have you heard someone say “Be patient…sabr..this is the will of Allah”? Somehow, in the eyes of many individuals, it translates into being passive and submissive, that ohhh it is the will of Allah for me to not have success during this challenge or that events have occurred to make sure I do not get it (attribution bias).

No, the idea is that yes, you may not have won today but you may win tomorrow. It is right in the sense that Allah has put that challenge in your path, but there is a reason to it all. Many times, these challenges are tests for us. The idea is to be active in life, to be fully present and there are no shortcuts in life. If everything came easily, we would not grow or thrive. Not in just one aspect, but often all-encompassing. You will feel fear, maybe you will feel rejection and your emotions may sometimes absorb you, but the idea is to keep at it until you achieve those dreams or maybe one day you feel and know deep down inside that that certain path is definitely not for you.

Our dreams can change and we may not want the same things forever. Give your dreams the due diligence and time for you to keep growing and realizing what you want. There are many books or articles you can read though many will tell you the same thing. That life needs you to be living it fully but also to have a sense of balance in everything you do. Many motivation gurus say life needs a curiosity to learn, endurance and determination but there is only a certain extent that they can keep repeating it yet it may fall on deaf ears. If you do not consistently do something about it, you cannot hope for great change to happen.

No one is perfect, we keep learning but let us grow and achieve big things together. Let us work hard at our dreams and if we find that something is not working for us, let us try hard at it until we feel it is okay to let go or to let it morph into something else. I was stuck in a rut for a while but upon reflection and sharing my thoughts and fears with my loved ones, I became comforted by the fact that it is normal to question and to dwell upon things for a bit and everyone too goes through their own struggles. There is a consolation in knowing that while my dreams may require a long and hard climb, it is still better that I try even if I may fail later on.

You are more likely to succeed if you stretch yourself in whatever you do than if you were to be complacent and not truly live and give your best in each moment. You are also more likely to be happy for your loved ones also achieving their dreams if you are working hard and also see how hard they work in achieving their dreams because you can relate to their struggles too. From another perspective, it’s a bit boring to be jealous to see them achieving their dreams, very “drama sitcom” like when you can just be happy and celebrate with them.

I hope you get inspired by something, maybe something you read or watch or even if you are just hanging out somewhere and watching people pass by. I hope you have a dream that excites you and makes you want to work your butt off for a common good with pure intentions. I hope that you learn more about yourself and realize the bad times, the bad feelings that you may feel are all temporary and that there is a unique sweetness to the struggles that you may go through. Gratification may be delayed, but I hope you achieve it and that you see that it was all worth it.

Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.