The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 5

Jan 11 - 7 habits teenagers

Paradigms of Life

Sean Covey explains that just as we have paradigms (perceptions) of ourselves and others, we also have paradigms of the world in general. We can find out what our life centres around by asking ourselves the following questions (as we did in our previous articles):

  1. What do I think about the most?
  2. What do I spend most of my time doing?
  3. Who or what is the driving force of my life?

Some popular life-centres for teenagers will follow. They all have certain good points, but they are also incomplete in one way or the other, as will be discussed.

Sport/hobby-centred

We often witness people building their identity around being an outstanding sportsperson, only to suffer a severe injury; or around an outstanding career only to find out that someone outshines them. In such cases, the poor soul is left to rebuild from scratch. Similarly, many other interests or pastimes, such as theatres, clubs, etc., are based on unstable grounds. If one performs greatly in a particular play or event, it is most stressful to continue maintaining the same performance each time one puts his foot on the stage or in the club.

A wise man once said: “In a game, everyone cannot be a winner. There will be losers, too. And they are human beings. As long as one gives his/her 100 per cent, leave the rest to Allah (swt). It is for Him to decide who crosses the finishing line first.”

Hero-centred

It is very common for the youth to centre their lives on famous celebrities, movies stars, sportsmen, politicians, rock stars, etc. They will even be able to tell you what their favourite personality has for breakfast! But if the same celebrity dies, ends up in prison or does something impulsively ridiculous, where will the fans go? They will feel embarrassed, angry and disappointed. As is the case of every person in the limelight: “What goes up, comes down.” And one day people do forget them, too. We have endless stories of the fans of Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, etc., who spent their lives in their favourite celebrity’s shadow, even after they were gone. So hero-worship is certainly a vulnerable and fragile centre.

Enemy-centred

Sometimes our entire life revolves around hating a particular person, group or an ideology. Just as an antagonist in a movie wants to take revenge from the protagonist, the aim of some people in life is just to make the lives of others miserable. All the positive energy and creativity turns into evil genius and is passed on to others like a fatal epidemic. They stoop to any level just to settle scores. Such ideologies are usually a by-product of hanging out with gangs or the result of broken homes or maybe, very low self-worth. This indeed is a warped centre. Not to mention how very detrimental it is to one’s faith and extremely heavy on one’s heart. Imagine carrying around so much venom inside one’s heart.

Work-centred

Workaholism is a sickness that generally afflicts people after they have crossed their teenagehood. But sometimes it can strike the young as well. One feels the need to have more money, cars, status and recognition. This obsession prevents the person from

enjoying what he already has, and drives him/her to greater ambitions. This further leads the person to be burned out from too much work and may deprive him/her of sound health and steady mind. Because there is no moderation in life and one is just slaving day in and day out, eventually it tends to make one very unhappy and dead beat.

Self-centred

This is a very common centre nowadays. This perception makes a person resistant to putting the mirror down. Sean Covey explains it: “One thinks that the world revolves around you and your problems. This often results in being so worried about your own condition that you’re oblivious to the walking wounded all around you.” One’s life begins with “my ugly pimple, my dead cell phone, my bad grade…” Get the picture? The list goes on and on.

So what will ultimately provide us with the stability we need in life? All the life-centres that we have discussed in this and our previous issues have proved to be shaky and uncertain. Sean Covey is not suggesting that we should quit being ambitious or passionate about people and stuff we believe in. What he warns against is that we should not rely on a life-line that may give out anytime without warning.

In the next part we will discuss the real thing – the actual centre that we should all try to acquire for guaranteed success, Insha’Allah.

So be on the lookout for our upcoming article.

What are habits?

They are not a machine, though they work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human.

They may be run for profit or run for ruin – it makes no difference to them.

So form them wisely!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 4

Jan 11 - 7 habits teenagers

Paradigms of Life

Sean Covey explains that just as we have paradigms (perceptions) about ourselves and others, we also have paradigms about the world in general. They are the spectacles, through which we see the world around us. We can find out what the focal point of our life is by asking ourselves the following questions (as we did in our previous article):

  1. What do I think about the most?
  2. What do I spend most of my time doing?
  3. Who or what is the driving force of my life?

As discussed earlier, some of the more popular life-center’s for teenagers were friends and materialistic stuff. Now, we will talk about some other centers of life.

They all have certain good points, but they are also incomplete in one way or the other. We will prove this one by one.

Fiancé/spouse-centred

Getting married and falling in love is the most beautiful thing that can happen to anyone. Islam encourages Nikah and considers it to be half of an individual’s Deen. But it also talks about strengthening relationships by merging the positives qualities of two partners into a companionship, which will further provide a strong foundation for their future family.

But love struck as we are sometimes, the love of our life weakens rather than strengthens us. For example, if your fiancé or spouse is in a bad mood or is having a rough day and happens to snap at you, you’ll always react! How? Either by snapping back, crying bitterly or putting on a fiercer mood.

Believe it or not, if you become emotionally dependant on your partner, you will actually become unattractive to him/her. Whatever role you assume, whether, it is that of a pitiful victim or a charged bull, you will put off your partner.

A sign, which tells you that your relationship lacks inner strength, is when you are constantly falling into mood swings and ruining your and other people’s day after a fight with your fiancé or spouse.

In situations such as these, Islam teaches us not to over-react; rather, the best course of action is to stay silent. Counseling and communication can happen later, when both parties are in a calm and sane mind frame. It’s about finding inner strength, so that when your partner sinks, you try to save him/her, by staying afloat and helping him/her swim back to the shore, too!

School/college-centred

We all have known someone in our classroom, who was always comparing his/her marks with the smart kids of the class. And if he/she happened to fail to live up to his/her own expectations, or that of the teacher’s, he/she would sulk, lament or break into fury.

Among teenagers, centering one’s life on school or college is most common. As Sean Covey puts it; “Our education is vital to our future and should be a top priority. But we must be careful not to let it take over our lives. School-centred teenagers often become so obsessed with getting good marks that they forget that the real purpose of school is to learn.”

They work harder than required and shut the world out of their lives. This turns them into nerds or bookworms. By the time they have graduated from school/college and stepped into a more serious phase of their life, they realize that they had missed the chance to have fun.

Ambitious and responsible students balance their academic achievements with a more relaxed outlook on life. They stay at the top of their class without losing their sense of enjoyment. A person’s true worth can hardly be measured by his/her exam results. Trust me; you will still retain your abilities and character in spite of an occasional average grade in class.

Parent-centred

Allah (swt) has ordained children to love and respect their parents numerous times in the Quran. It goes without saying that we owe our life and all the wonderful things that have come with it to them, their sacrifices and care.

But, as good Muslims, we are also advised to be moderates. We should seek ultimate pleasure of the Lord (swt). In fact, parents are not to be obeyed, if they encourage their kids to turn to disbelief.

Similarly, some parents become paranoid for their children and impassioned with their own dreams and ambitions for them. Their kids willingly or unwillingly live a life of their parent’s choice, never being able to blossom into the people they would like to be and with the potential Allah (swt) gifted them.

I have heard tearful stories of kids who spent their lives trying to seek their parent’s approval. But no matter how hard they worked, they just could not live up to their expectations, maybe because the parents themselves didn’t realize that their expectations of the kids were wrong.

Eventually, when the kids detached themselves of their parents’ misguided expectations, they discovered their own potential and direction. Indeed, they proved far more successful and made their parents proud.

It is important to be honest with oneself and parents. Initially, it is very tough, but when you believe in your own goodness and capabilities granted to you by Allah (swt), you discover your own value. You work with all your zeal and succeed. This eventually earns you your parents’ love and approval, too.

In the next part, we will discuss in detail the remaining paradigms of life and the ways they impact us.