A must read!
I love love love the book ‘Pray, Eat , Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. FYI the movie was crap. Don’t watch it. Read the book if you haven’t; Its life changing.
Anyhow, I got the idea of Diligent joy from this book. Its an amazing concept that I just can’t get enough of. See, people universally think that happiness is a stroke of luck. Something that may descend upon them magically. But that’s not how it works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You must strive for it, fight for it, insist upon it, even travel to a different country searching for it. Whatever it takes. You must actively cultivate happiness, and once you have it, become diligent in maintaining it.
Its easy to be an inert passenger in the journey of your life. You hate your work-‘Ah well’. You’re not happy in your marriage-‘Oh, it was not meant to be’. You feel unfulfilled in life- ‘Allah Karim’.
In a way, its a cultural disease. Lol. I heard a comedian once joke that Muslims are the only people on earth who could get hit by a bus and on the same day, get struck by lightening, lose all their money, and then get mauled by a runaway bear. And at the end of it all-send up a prayer of thanks – Alhamdulillah.
This is a beautiful thing. And it is a sign of a strong and devout Muslim.
However, this should not translate into accepting suffering needlessly. Accepting unhappiness as though it is a normal state of affairs.
And so, if we find ourselves in a state of unfulfillment, instead of accepting it as our lot from God, Allah would love to hear us pray. Pray AND actively extract ourselves from those sticky, gummy, unhappy emotions with all our effort. God helps those who help themselves.
Actively seeking, hoping, praying and working towards contentment.
This may seem like a selfish act. Should I really spend that much time praying and working towards my own happiness? What about the many child soldiers, beggars, orphans. Should I not pray for them? Shouldn’t I be grateful- I may be unhappy, but I am still blessed compared to many other suffering souls.
Granted, that is a fairly good argument. But, the search for contentment is not just a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a great gift to the world. Yes, you heard me. You being happy, makes the world happy.
Think of all the times you have been upset, or moody, or unhappy. How many times did you pass that bad vibe forward? How many times did you react grumpily to your co-worker, snap at your husband, honk at the idiot in the next car? Imagine all that negative energy out there in the world spouting from your black mood. Getting passed on from one person to the next person.
An unhappy, unhealthy cell, makes for an unhappy, unhealthy body. In the same way, an unhappy individual is an obstacle to the happiness of so many other individuals in the world!
I know I sound hippy-esque and new-age modern crazy. But its such a beautiful concept. It just makes sense.
Now go forth, and be happy.