The quality of our success as social beings depends on our capacity to develop the magnetic power of caring enough and reflecting that care in our daily life in three important ways.
We should have:
- a positive attitude
- thoughtful words
- appropriate behaviour
Designing One’s Personality
Our lives are continually being shaped by the choices we make and the convictions and values that underlie them. In this sense, our lives are like works of art in progress.
We focus on wearing designer clothes, but do we focus on designing our personality? We can take the material of life and either react to it in a passive way; always remaining life’s victim, or take it and use it creatively, becoming the architect of one’s life and a full participant in shaping one’s destiny and in designing one’s true personality.
Personality, Character and Reputation
Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and actions that make each individual unique. Personality is linked to character and reputation.
- Reputation is what you lead others to believe you are; while character is what you really are.
- Reputation may be reflected in the combination of your name and your image; while character is the essence of your being.
- Reputation is the wrapping; while character is the content.
- Reputation is the outer reflection; while character is the inner reality.
- Reputation is made in a moment; while character is built in a lifetime.
- Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your tombstone; while character is what angels report about you to Almighty Allah.
The Art of Navigating the Road of Life
1. In navigating the road of life, do not be a victim of what happens to you; but rather be an architect of the road and do your best to make things happen.
Reflect on the admonition of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) “As you do, so shall you be rewarded.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
2. Do not be of those who end up saying … I should have, I could have, I would have, I must have …. but didn’t.
3. The art of positive thinking is to realize that life is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, and to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
Remember; to a sick man sweet water tastes bitter,
not because there is a problem with the water,
but because of the sickness of the man.
[Al-Mutanabbi; the poet]
4. Positive thinkers have a winning attitude; though they recognize their limitations, they focus on their strengths.
5. The art of being YOU-nique is not in how you appear, but rather in letting what you do and how you do it be a reflection of what and who you are. You are the only “you” that there is; no one can think with your mind, speak with your voice and smile with your face, cry with your tears or act with your body, but you. So be the best ‘YOU’ that you can be, for only you are accountable for yourself and you only get what you strive for.
6. The art of problem-solving lies in your attitude and approach to problems. Think positively! Often, the problem lies in how we look at things.
Pessimism is part of bad character.
7. Learn to deal with difficulty without accepting failure, tackling challenges without feeling defeated, recognizing error without repeating mistakes, and facing disappointments without being discouraged.
So, when life serves you lemons; don’t be sour … make lemonade.
8. The art of speaking is not in the volume of words / sound but rather in the truthfulness and wisdom of the content. Speech is a projection of thoughts and emotions; the content of speech reflects the culture of the heart, so consider carefully how you feel about others, why you feel the way you feel and what you say about people.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “None of your faith is correct unless your heart is upright and your heart will not be rectified until your tongue is in order.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani) And, that is why Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an,
(O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and speak the right word, He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your faults.) (Al-Ahzab 33: 70)
9. The art of criticism lies not in succeeding to find faults, but in finding a means whereby the fault is realized and corrected. In his book entitled Commanding the Right and Forbidding the Wrong in Islamic Thought, Dr Michael Cook writes,
What kind of duty do we have to try and stop people doing wrong? The question is intelligible in just about every culture, but few of them seek to answer it in a rigorous fashion. The most striking exception is found in the Islamic tradition, where ‘commanding right and forbidding wrong’ is a central moral tenet mentioned in the Qur’an.
10. In correcting others, the aim is not to appear better than others but in bringing out the best in yourself and to facilitate bringing out the best in others; to commit yourself to be of benefit to the world.
11. Occupy yourself with so much striving to improve yourself that you have less time to criticize others. Almighty Allah says: “O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers. O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another.” (Al-Hujurat 49: 11, 12)
12. The art of disagreement is not in being hostile and adamant but in being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Napoleon Hill said:
Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you; until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word of those whom you do not admire; until you have formed the habit of looking for the good instead of the bad that is in others, you will be neither successful nor happy.
13. The art of joyfulness is not only being happy yourself but in increasing that joy by bringing happiness to the lives of others. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) thus, recommended: “Smiling at your fellow human being is charity.” (At-Tirmidhi )
14. The art of inspiring is to uplift others by suggestion and demonstration rather than by injunction and dictation.
Let us seriously consider this wise, age-old request:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day,
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell me the way,
The eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Teachings can be confusing but examples are always clear,
The lesson you convey in words you say may be fine and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons from observing what you do;
I may misunderstand you through the high advice you give,
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and live.
The art of living a purposeful life is not merely passing time in this world, but to be like a candle; recognizing the inevitability of death while bringing light to the world as it is consumed. We should bear in mind that:
- The reality of life is change
- The challenge of life is to live it to its full
- The lesson of life is its temporary nature
- The wisdom of life is to learn from the past
- The act of life is to make a difference
- The purpose of life is ihsan (righteousness coupled with a sense of God-consciousness), and since Almighty Allah has prescribed ihsan in everything, it means leaving the world a better place.
Reach Your Full Potential
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Almighty Allah has prescribed goodness and excellence in all that you do; and this statement, in relation to evolving human potential and developing personality, motivates a person to utilize his life skills in the most progressive and pro-active manner. This requires living with dignity and the demonstration of:
- Courage with conviction
- Patience with perseverance
- Power with mercy
- Authority with honour
- Duty with commitment
- Principle with wisdom
- Freedom with discipline
- Status with humility
- Justice with compassion
- A lifetime filled with love
This can be attained if we abide by the advice of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him); “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet.” (Al-Bukhari)
And Allah’s order,
(And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.) (Al-Kahf 18:110)
*By Sadullah Khan