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):
- What do I think about the most?
- What do I spend most of my time doing?
- 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.
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!
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.
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.