Our Choices Shape Our Lives

July 15th, 2010 @   -  No Comments

Whatever the situations we are in, we always have choices to make. Each choice we make directs us to the path of success or the road of failure and dictates the reality we experience.It has been said that between the events or things that happen to us and the way we react to them, there is a space where we can choose our response. It is our choice of response that shapes our lives and not the event itself or what happened to us. While we are free to choose our response, we are not free to choose the results and the consequences.

For example; we are stuck in traffic; we have no control over this. But we can choose our response to this situation. We can choose to react, yell, curse and honk our horn, which will result in us being frustrated and our time and energy being wasted. Or we can use that time to listen to an audio book, make Zikr, or have a conversation which will result in us being relaxed and our time being fruitfully utilised.

But how many times, we hear things like, “I have no choice.” “I have to do this.” “I have to act that way.” When we feel we have no choice and say “I have to” we are playing a victim role; we have given away our power of shaping our life to our circumstances, the society and the people around us. When we feel victimized, we usually get upset and feel like to take revenge from whomever we deem the cause of our misfortune such as our boss or the society and even the traffic. This resentment can be an enormous and unnecessary burden which holds us back.

When we are aware that we have choices regardless the circumstances, we feel empowered; we feel that we are in control; we can make things happen and change our situations to the better.

How can we make the right choices to shape our life for the better?

Here some practical suggestions:

  1. Know your purpose in life. If you do not know your purpose in life, it is difficult to make the right choices. When your choice has no real basis in meaning, then the slightest setback can discourage you. Purpose gives you a reason to get going each day and reinforces your determination to persevere when the going gets tough.
  2. Identify your values and clarify your guiding principles.   If you were to make a list of what your guiding principles are, what would they be? Your principles will act like a compass which guides you and tells you which direction you are heading to.
  3. Know what is important to you. One way of knowing what is important to you is asking this question: If you had three months to live what would you do with your life? Make a list of the things that are important to you. Identify your top priorities. Remember that your priorities may change as your circumstances change. But do not sacrifice what is most important to you and what you want most in the long run, for what you want right now.
  4. Analyze your choices. Will this choice bring me closer to Allah (SWT) and what I want? Is this choice in line with my belief, guiding principles and goals?
  5. Make Istikhara Prayer. It has been said the enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” When you find yourself in a dilemma choosing between what is good and what is best, this prayer will be a great help. It has been reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “One who asks Allah for guidance in choosing the best course of action will never be a loser.”
  6. Act on your choice and then Tawakkul. Choices without action are insignificant. Remember, inaction is also a choice. Either you act or you will be acted upon.

In spite of the prudent choices we made in a particular situation, unexpected things happen that are beyond our control. In such difficult situations, we have also choices to make. We can choose to whine and complain, and ultimately give up or we can choose to take the upside and patiently keep going. We can choose to spend our time looking for excuses and justifications or choose to use this time to explore other alternatives and look for possible solutions. We can look at the situation as a problem and dwell on it or see it as an opportunity and take advantage of it. Each choice helps us to steer our life in a certain direction and shaping it positively or negatively.

When make the right choices, we will enjoy peace of mind regardless the outcome. The prophet (PBUH) said, “Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him” (Muslim).

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