IlmFest – Cultivating Contentment Through the Power of the Present
Channel: Sarah Sultan
File Size: 28.50MB
Bismillah wa salatu salam ala Rasulillah one and he was a human Wella Am I bad es Salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu. Everyone.
Does everyone love hate on for the opportunity to be here with all of you, and you're beautiful, you're beautiful state. As soon as I walked into the airport, I bought a magnet, I didn't know, I collect them. And I didn't know that the Wright brothers were from here. So I bought an airplane magnet that's red and yellow. Because my son loves Lightning McQueen, from the movie cars, if any of you have kids, and he's red and yellow, so he'll be excited, such as I can love it.
So I'm honored to speak about this particular topic about cultivating contentment, and taking advantage of the present moment and being able to do that.
So I wanted to start with a story. That exactly one week ago, almost to the minute, something very important happened in my family's life, my children, and I were at a local grocery store, and we picked a cake. And that's it. That's what was important. It's not serious for me. But for the two little ones that were with me, it was really serious business, my daughter, especially she's four, and the choice of picking this cake, and choosing it and spending the entire day looking at it longingly a Mama, look at the strawberries on it, Mama, look at the color of the frosting, Mama, I'm so excited, I love you so much, I can't wait to have a slice, right? She was so excited. And then
when she finally got that slice, seeing her take that first bite was magical, it was amazing to see how she enjoyed every single bit of that moment. And that's why children are so filled with joy. Because they take advantage of and they fully engage in every single moment of their lives.
So to make it a little bit more relatable to some of you, especially if you don't have children, if any of you have applied for college, in the present, or in the past grad school, undergrad, medical school law school, that moment that you open up your mailbox, and you see the big envelope, not the little envelope, but you see the big envelope, right. And it's emblazoned with the name of the university on any open it and it says congratulations.
You're overjoyed, you are fully engaged. That's contentment. In that moment, you are not thinking about the personal statement, you had to write the recommendation letters, all those checks, you had to write just to apply to these people, schools, right and how much money you spent doing that you're not thinking about all of those things from the past. Because that would take away from the joy of the present moment. And you're not thinking about how much pain you're going to experience in the future if you're going to medical school or any of those other things, because that's definitely going to take away from the joy of that present moment, right? Instead, you are engaged in just that
moment. And that's what contentment is engaging in that present moment and being thankful for that moment.
We often think about that in moments of happiness. But it also applies in moments of sadness.
If you have ever lost somebody that you love,
in that moment, if you think about all the ways that they made you angry in the past, you can't allow yourself to grieve, right?
And if you keep thinking about every future moment of happiness that they're going to miss out on, your grief is going to be incredibly overwhelming. And so instead we focus in on the present moment, and allow ourselves to feel the sadness.
And contentment doesn't mean not hurting. We allow ourselves to feel that sadness. But it means that despite that pain, knowing that Allah's path out as planned might not be what we would have chosen for ourselves in that moment. But knowing that through His love and His wisdom, that's what he's decreed. That's what allows us to still live in that present moment. When you think about the Prophet Muhammad wa sallam, he lost so many of his children, he lost his beloved uncle, he lost his constant companion his wife Khadija or the lion hmm.
And he grieved, but he was still able to love the people that were still alive, his grandchildren, the children that were still alive, he was able to show love and care to his companions, he was able to still complete his mission as the messenger of Allah prime data. Because despite having grief within our hearts, if we can still experience the joys of the present moment, that's where contentment lies.
So what is contentment? Basically contentment is focusing in on what is and not on what if
So what that means is being pleased with Allah subhanaw taala what he's decreed, knowing that there's wisdom in every provision, whether we've been given something or taken, having something taken away from us, whether we've been given ease or whether we've been given struggles, knowing that there's wisdom in that, and nurturing a sense of appreciation for what we have, instead of looking for what we lack, that's what contentment is. But also sallam said that if something difficult happens to us, don't say if only right because if only our words that open the door for the shaitan instead he said say other Allah, wa Masha file, that it is the destiny of Allah and He
does whatever he wishes. That's acceptance, that's contentment. So instead of saying, If only I had married, so and so I would be happy, if only I had more money than I would be content, right? And we're going to address that in a little bit inshallah.
So a riddle, meaning contentment, scholars have described it as the greatest door that one enters to ALLAH SubhanA data.
It's the source of tranquility for the worshiper and it's described as paradise on earth.
And research actually supports this idea of it being paradise on earth. There's a lot of research done about happiness and contentment, and the implications it has for depression and anxiety and reducing that even for reducing things like chronic pain, that if we experience physical pain, level of happiness, positivity and contentment can alleviate some of that SubhanAllah. And so they're results that paradise on earth but the best benefit and one that we should keep for most in our mind when we're striving toward contentment is with what Allah Subhana Allah says in surah 10 Fetch Allah Subhana Allah says
yah, yah, yah yah to have enough soul motorman in adga Allah Rebecca RawData Meridia for the Holy FAI Badie, where the Holy Jannetty where Allah subhanaw taala is singing to the righteous people over your short soul, and neffs and mohtarma, inner meaning the person who is content, the soul that's content and satisfied,
return to your Lord, pleased and pleasing to Him are all the attend Model D, meaning content with Allah's path data, and he's also content with you,
and enter amongst my righteous servants, and enter my paradise. So what Ellis path data is telling us in these verses is if you game the paradise of Earth, Jana to read the meaning, the agenda of contentment on Earth, meaning you are content with me, you will gain the agenda of the Hereafter where I will be content with you.
And it's, that's an amazing gift that you get a gift now, and you get an even greater gift later, there's no losing in this equation.
And so one way, and this is the one I want to focus on to achieve contentment, right, because we know the reward, we know it's great, but how do we do it? It's through something called mindfulness. Some of you might have heard this term, very hippy term that people like throw around these days in psychology and everything. But there are some really clear benefits. And it's very similar to the concept of hoshinoya, which is focused universal law and things like that. So mindfulness is basically an approach that encourages us to focus in on the present moment to live our lives purposefully. So it allows us to shed the weight of regret from the past to shed the weight of
anxiety and fears of the future, and focus in on the present moment.
A professor of psychology at Harvard University, Ellen Langer defined mindfulness saying, life consists only of moments, nothing more than that.
So if you make the moment matter, it all matters. So I call these moments in honor of my daughter, I call them chocolate cake moments. How do we create out of the typical everyday routine and even the difficult moments like the Brussel, sprouts moments of your lives, right? How do we transfer them and make them into chocolate cake moments where that moment where everything melts away? And we have that moment matter, in the same way that that first bite of chocolate cake and matter to my daughter? How do we do that?
And one way to make each moment matter is by finding a reason to be content and to be grateful in every single moment of our lives. And so how do we do this? The first step in this process, it's a three step process and the first step is awareness.
You can't appreciate something if you don't see it.
If you don't even know it's there, you can't be content with it. You can't think alleged data for it because you're not seeing it. So the first thing is we need to be aware if you ever have Mullah. He talks about the journey to Allah and the first station he describes in this journey tell us pantalla is the station of awareness that when we gain awareness, then our heart awakens from the slumber of heedlessness, right and the opposite of heedlessness is awareness or mindfulness. So, for example, for any of you moms out there, when you're cleaning up a mess that your kids made when they were playing, and you're grumbling the whole time, like, I can't believe how much I have to do. And this
is so frustrating. And all of this, I gotta teach my kids to clean up after themselves right? And you're frustrated, instead, focus in on the laughter, that yield did that miss the laughter of your children and thank Allah cantata for the opportunity to have heard that, when so many people would have wished for that. I once heard a quotation that said, there are so many people out there who would wish for your worst days, that our worst days are filled with so many more blessings than people's best days in so many people. Subhanallah, right.
Or when your mother asks you to go to the grocery store, and you have a paper to write for class, and you're stressed, and you're frustrated, because you have an extra thing to do now. Instead, imagine that you're alleviating a burden from your mother in the same way that she's alleviated so many burdens from you. And that through this opportunity that Allah Subhana Allah has put in your path, you are working toward qualifying as those who give good treatment to their parents, for the reward for which is unimaginable in the eyes of Allah subhanaw taala.
The most mundane, the most annoying, the most difficult moments can be made into chocolate cake moments if we allow them to be.
And so when we think Allah, Allah subhana, Allah tells us, let in Jakarta I'm lazy, then mecom The if you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor. And one of the things is, you know, we think okay, if I'm grateful to Allah tatata, for my wealth, he's going to increase me and wealth, right? Maybe. But there's another way that Allah has passed that us favor is shown to us when we're grateful to him, where the more we look for the things that we have, instead of setting our sights on the things that we lack, the more or less path that allows us to see the things that we have to increase in contentment. And what happens in our mind, our brains literally change, that the
pathways of negativity weaken and the pathways of positivity strengthen. And so suddenly, when you're stuck in traffic in the morning, and normally, you'd be honking your horn, and you're wondering, I'm going to be late for work and you're so frustrated, suddenly, your perspective starts to change. And you don't need to even put in as much effort to allow it to change. Suddenly, you think to yourself, and Hamdulillah, that I'm not that car accident on the side of the road that caused the delay. Your perspective is an increase from Allah subhanaw taala in goodness and in favors, because you have been grateful, he allows us to be even more grateful. And that's one of the
greatest blessings to panela to allow us to experience that paradise on earth, Jen, not edited.
And Allah subhana, Allah tells us fibby, ala Arabic aromatica demand, which of the fevers of your Lord will you deny? If we can't be aware, then we're denying every single fever that passes our way, every single day, Subhan Allah. And so when we pay attention to the present moment and the blessings in the present moment, then suddenly, in mediocrity, in the moments where nobody sees blessings, we see everything. And we're not from amongst those who denied the favorites of Allah subhanaw taala. And so we have a choice in every moment to search for that, which will lead us to contentment and gratitude, or to ignore it and lead a life of dissatisfaction.
So if we look at the things that our parents or our spouse does to annoy us, we'll find it right. That's life.
And if we look for the things that they do to show us love, that make us feel loved, we'll find that too. You find what you're looking for, right? If you look for the imperfections in your appearance, you buy one of the like, in my hotel, I don't know why hotels do this. They have those mirrors, that like zoom in on everything, you know, like the one next to the bathroom, you can see everything, you just kind of have to not look at that. Don't focus on your imperfections because you'll find them. But instead if you focus on what you appreciate about what Allah Subhana Allah has given you an appearance in the functionality of your body, in your health. You're going to find that to you find
what you look for, and you can either gain contentment or dissatisfaction. And that's how we make the moments matter.
The second step is accountability.
We can't fully be content until we hold ourselves accountable and figure out, are we living our lives in accordance with the values that we think are important to us. I'm not even Hatha below the line, he said, call your souls to account before you are called to account, hold yourselves accountable, right. And so living in the present moment doesn't mean ignoring the past and ignoring the future. It means utilizing the past and utilizing the future, to make the present moment matter and to make it count.
So the point of looking back at the past is to learn from our mistakes, so we can change them and make a difference in the present moment, or to figure out what worked in the past. And to replicate that in the present moment. The point of looking forward to the future is we need to plan for our future, right? As much as we're capable of planning for it. Because in order to actually achieve it, we have to take advantage of the present moment, and do what needs to be done to make it toward that goal. So when we're using it in that way, for it to inform the present moment, it's beneficial, if we're using it in the way where we're regretting the past, so that we can't do anything to change
it, and we just feel horrible, or we're looking at the future. And we're so terrified that we're frozen, and we can't come in, our life passes us by and we can't benefit.
So if we put in the work, to take full advantage, then contentment plays a role in several ways. The first is when you're putting in the work when you're studying for your MCAT. And it's hard. There's a level of contentment in knowing that even though this is hard, I am content with the work that this involves, because Allah Subhana Allah is giving me the tools to be able to achieve what I'm seeking to achieve. When you work hard, and you get the result that you want. You get that job, right, you get that promotion. And you think, oh, let's pass out. That's contentment in the moment thinking Ellis passata. And then there's also if you get that promotion, and you realize it wasn't
the dream that you had imagined it to be, that the reality of it isn't exactly what you had anticipated. And we're going to talk about that in a minute.
And then there's contentment, the hardest one, if you work for something, and you don't get it. And that's where we know that Allah subhanaw taala is the best of planners, but that Allah's pantalla is also a Rezac. The provider, that he provides us with what we need, not always what we want, even if we work toward what we want, if it's not what we need, then he provides us with what we need, instead, being content with that knowledge of Allah's pattern of being arose that the provider for us.
And so a big part of accountability, obviously is working toward our goals, and our primary goals, is in living the life that we want to present in front of Allah subhana data. If we are not living in accordance with our values, then no matter how much we achieve, no matter how many blessings we're given, no matter how much ease we're presented with, we will never be content because there's always going to be something missing.
When Allah subhana, Allah tells us and I did not create jinn or humans except to worship me, Are We Living in accordance to that? That also sad, and I'm sad that the son of Adam will not be dismissed before his Lord before he's been questioned for about five things. And the first one he talks about is his life and how he spent it, all of those little moments are going to be written. And all of those little moments add up to what we're presenting in front of us path data. Is it what we want to present?
A good way to ask ourselves this question is if somebody imagine your life for one week, and if somebody were to take an objective look at your life, what would they think your priorities are?
Is it making money? Is it Netflix? Is it you know, yelling at your parents, right? What are the priorities that we have in our lives? Is it in accordance to what we imagine it would be that it's in worshiping Allah cantata, and keep in mind what we're saying here is, every single moment can be turned into a worship of Allah is patata. It's not just salah, it's not just that it's not just reciting Quran, every single moment can be turned into a worship illustrata If we intend it to be that, if we're grateful to Allah Subhana Allah for those moments. So the third step, in this process of gaining contentment is acceptance. And this is where when we work for something, sometimes we get
it, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we get it and it's not exactly what we wanted it to be.
Contentment is not based on our circumstances. Our level of happiness, our level of contentment is 100% within our control, wow. 90% would say
according to research, but I think there's
A bit more than that.
Research says that 10% of our happiness level is determined by what happens in our lives by our circumstances, right?
The other 90% is a few different factors, but primarily the way that we perceive our circumstances. So people think something like once I lose 10 pounds, I'll be happy. Once I get married, I'm going to be content. Once I get this job, once I finished my finals, once, all of these things, then I will be happy then then then
we're in a waiting game. When meanwhile, if we focused in on what we have now, we could be happy right now. We don't need anything else than what we have right at this moment in order to be content. Because Allah Subhana Allah has given us everything that we need. There was a research a very powerful research study done that took a group of two very different types of people who had undergone a life altering experience. One group had won the lottery, and one group had become paraplegics, meaning that they were paralyzed from the waist down for life.
What they did is they tested these groups. And what they found was that both groups after one year after these incidents, the lottery or the paralyzation, the paralysis, nonproliferation, paralysis.
One year after that, their happiness levels, were right back to the way they were before the events.
Whether you win the lottery, or whether you experience paralysis, you will be as content as you were. One year later, as you were even before this happened SubhanAllah. Because our happiness and our contentment is not dictated by our life circumstances. It's dictated by how we think, and how we think with our hearts, okay?
The prophesy son, told us that if the son of Adam had two valleys of money, he would wish for a third, it's natural, it's part of our human nature, to want more to look for the next big thing to look for the next step in our lives to wait for contentment until the next step, and then we realize it never comes. But it tells us that the ups and downs of life are not what dictate our happiness. And that what we think we need.
In the long run a year later, we realized that we really didn't SubhanAllah.
But we can make the change, because all this path data tells us that He rewards us for contentment. Why would he reward us for something that we can't do? We can do it, even if it's against our nature, sometimes we can do it, we can work on it. And that also, Selim did it in a very powerful way. And it's very simple. So if you take one thing from this lecture is a simple tip that they're in our morning and evening of God. There's a diet that we say three times in the morning three times in the evening. What are they two we'll hear about what will Islami dinner will be Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam in a video so three times in the morning, three times in the evening. And what
this means is that there's those who Selim says that there's nobody who says this three times in the morning three times in the evening that I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, I am pleased with Islam was my religion, and with Muhammad Salah Salem as my messenger, except that on the Day of Judgment, it will be a right upon Allah to please that person.
That when we say,
I am pleased, are they to be law hereby that I am pleased with you? Yeah, Allah as my Lord.
Allah subhanaw taala will then please us on the Day of Judgment, and that is our right that we will have upon him. Subhanallah That is incredible.
When we remind ourselves every single day that we're pleased with Allah's cantata as our Lord that we're pleased with Islam as a religion, then the difficulties that come on a daily basis don't seem as difficult because we're telling Allah you want me to pray five times a day, okay? That's hard. But you know what? I'm pleased with Allah I'm content with Allah as my Lord I'm content with what he what he has prescribed for me in his Deen. I'm content with what he has decreed even the hardships in my life because I am singing six times a day that I am pleased with Alas, Pat data as my Lord and your brain registers this and looks for ways that you're going to be pleased with Ellis Pat data. So
when your alarm blasts for fed, and you've only slept two hours because of finals or because of a new baby, suddenly you think this is hard, but you know what I am content with Islam is my religion. And part of me being content is doing what Islam tells me and you get up, right? It changes our perspective.
So contentment, again, is not about what's happening around you. It's about what's happening within you. That's what makes all the difference with it.
And that's what helps us to change the difficult moments into chocolate cake moments.
Okay, I have five minutes and I wanted to do this with you guys and I'm going to try and do it quick. I want to give you a sample of what it would look like to do a mindfulness activity in a therapy session, this is something I would do with my clients.
So, this is based on an idea from sort of a lot of wellness practices, we have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind they have hearts with which they do not understand. They have eyes with which they do not see and they have ears with which they do not hear. And all those times that it ends the end he says it is they who are aloft alone, the heedless, right. And the opposite of heedlessness is mindfulness or awareness, right. So let's try and use a mindfulness activity, you're just gonna stay in your seats, you don't really need to do anything, it's with your minds.
That's the good thing about therapy, it doesn't involve much to you don't have to move a lot or anything if you're just sitting there. But
it based on this idea, we are going to explore how can we turn our hearts our ears and our eyes into ways of not being from amongst the heedless instead to be being from amongst those who are content and who are aware and who are mindful. So let's put that a describes people who are heedless with eyes that do not see. So I want you to pay attention to your eyes. And I want you to look, use your eyes to look at something within your, your, your visual area, right? It can be, you can focus on the flower arrangement, the couch, the hijab of the person in front of you, whatever it is, right?
Focus in on that it can be your laptop or something, your hands, just focusing on that for just a second, okay? Just look at it, allow yourself to relax into it, as you're just looking at it. Okay? Something that can be really used for anxiety. But what I like to do is I like to turn it into a way of worshipping Allah has panned out. So it's not just mindfulness, but it's also a way of worshipping Allah subhanaw taala.
So with whatever you chose to focus your vision on, you can turn that now to how do we make our eyes from amongst those who are aware instead of those who are heedless? How do we protect our eyes from being heedless?
We use our eyes in a way to get closer to Allah tatata. And what we do in this is whatever you are looking at, you can turn it into a gratitude, you can turn it into something to be content about. And it's gonna, it's difficult at first, but it'll get easier. And so what you do is, for example, you looked at your laptop,
you turn that into an Hamdulillah, that Allah has granted me the means to be able to buy something where knowledge is at my fingertips, right? You're looking at the flower arrangements and you think to yourself at Hamdulillah, that I have the opportunity to see these colors, and witness the creation of Allah subhanaw taala in a way that some people don't. You look at the stage in front of you and you think at Hamdulillah that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by students of knowledge in this place. We use our eyes where people see nothing, you can see blessings, okay? And the same with your ear, your ears, you hear the vent, the heating vent, you hear the sound of my
voice reminding you about Allah subhana data, you hear the breathing of your chest and thinking about Hamdulillah that Allah's pastor has granted me functioning lungs, you turn those more, that's what mindfulness is. You turn your senses into something to be grateful for Subhan Allah
skip the last one.
Yeah, sometimes when we're talking on our phones, right? Have you ever had that situation where you're talking on your phone with somebody? And then you're just like, you know, what happened with my dad recently? Bob, I can't find my phone. I have not Where Where is my phone? I'm looking for everywhere. And he's like, sorta have to you're talking to me. And everything I'm okay. And this is what happens in our lives. We look for what we imagine we've lost. We look for what we imagine we don't have in every single space. And sometimes it's right there. It's within our hands. It's within our grasp. It's within exactly in right under our noses. Subhan Allah. And that's how it is that
sometimes in the places that we feel as though something is lost, it's actually precisely where the blessing can be found. And that's what being aware, that's what contentment really is, is looking in our lives. Again, focusing on what is not on what if focusing on what we have, and not on what we lack.
And when we can do that, and realize that the blessings are within our grasp, then we ask that ALLAH SubhanA data, except that Inshallah, on the Day of Judgment, he's going to tell us scattered energy, ie iLoud or bigger all the time or data that returned
Your Lord, pleased with him content with him and he is content with you. I asked all those cries out to make us from amongst those with whom Allah Subhana Allah is pleased and with whom we are and for us to as well also be pleased with him and to grant us janitorial in this life and in the NFL, and just second of all played on the panic alarm homesickness Edwin La ilaha illa and first of all, we like Solomonic mana flow.