Rabail Umair Khan
The Attainment of Fulfilment
Updated: May 8, 2020
This year has been one of the most challenging years of my life thus far, and yet at the same time, it has got to be the most fulfilling ones as well. Akin to a shell that needs to be cracked open for the precious pearl to emerge, challenges open your heart and makes you vulnerable. But in return, it brings forth empathy, a greater sense of awareness and compassion within you and for those around you! Embrace them, for they are made to refine you into a better human being!
A life without difficulties is one that lacks true wisdom. Life always makes sense backwards, always. If you could just look back and reflect, then you would realise that if you didn’t hit rock bottom, you wouldn’t have learnt how to get back up. If you weren’t drowning, then you would not have learnt how to swim. The point is, sometimes you need to be shaken in order for you to awaken to your own true self. Like they say, when life brings you down, the only way out of it is upwards.
So, make use of the hurdles that life brings in front of us, to learn to adapt, to understand yourself better and most of all to come out of it stronger, with more love for yourself and those around you.
Having a vision, well, that’s relatively simple, but actually staying committed to it and cancelling out the redundant noises around you, requires one key and very crucial characteristic — resilience! If you have a purpose — a calling, then going after it, would require you to be ready to face criticisms and have your ambitions challenged over and over again.
Needless to say, it will be an arduous process, but if you could just have faith in yourself and know where you are headed towards, then flowing through the inevitable uncertainty that will come your way, actually ironically brings fulfilment.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Raising a child, is probably one of the most strenuous and demanding things one can do and yet we still desire it. Ever wondered why? It’s because when you acquire something after immense amount of hard work and patience, then your appreciation for it and life in essence, increases by many folds. To cut the long story short, hardship and fulfilment goes hand in hand.
HOW TO ATTAIN FULFILMENT:
We all know how it feels to be fulfilled. Most of us have even experienced fleeting moments of peace and contentment. We even know why we want it, and yet no one really talks about how do we get there, in the first place.
The attainment of fulfilment requires some key characteristics, which I have come to realise over the years. I believe, there are four major actions that one can take to step towards a fulfilling and purposeful life. The first being the ability to forgive yourself and the ones who wronged you. Second, the patience to remain steadfast on your path. Third, giving back to the community and lastly, and the most important one is letting go of the ego and doing the work in order to tame it.
When you are living your purpose, and are relentlessly working towards your vision, there will be people who would mock you, ridicule you, and perpetually make you feel like you are not going anywhere. These people will hurt you, a lot. However, you have to look forward, nevertheless. And to do that, you have to forgive.
When you forgive others, it may not necessarily be because you are in the wrong, but rather it’s to allow you to empty yourself of the heavy emotions. Forgiving others is more for you and less for them — to allow you to get away from the grasp of the past and come back into the present moment.
Next, forgive yourself. This is the harder part. Even if we can forgive others, the one thing we truly struggle with is forgiving ourselves for our own shortcomings — thereby remaining stuck in the past. You cannot achieve the things you truly want to if your one foot is in the past and the other in the future. Be present.
Why beat yourself over it? You did what you thought was right; with the level of awareness and knowledge you had back then. Also, don’t forget, it’s that past that has actually moulded you into the person you are today. What matters is that you are a different and better person now.
"Don’t regret what’s happened. If it’s in the past, let it go. Don’t even remember it!" - Rumi
We crave certainty because we desire safety, in all aspects of life. We have the ability to foresee possible challenges and plan a solution in advance. However, no matter how much you plan, life has a way of throwing unexpected challenges that are inevitable. At such instances, your patience and faith in the Creator, is what will allow you to swim through the ocean of uncertainty. That is how your willpower and resilience is tested and whether or not you can remain steadfast towards your purpose in life.
At times, we are so attached to the outcome that repeated failure starts to cause frustration. That is where it’s very vital to practice non-attachment. Learn to do the work towards your goal, consistently, without obsessing so much over the outcome. Ironically, letting go of the outcome, will actually ultimately lead you towards it, because doing so would allow you to overcome impatience and replace it with the resilience to get back up!
Giving doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary. Do not underestimate the power of your words — for they are equivalent to charity too.
“Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most-Forbearing.” - Al-Quran [2:263]
When faced with calamities, its common to feel like we are the only one — that’s what leads to hopelessness. Having a community is the antidote to that. Telling your story is a way of giving back to the community, while at the same time embarking on your own healing.
When you share, you will realise you are not alone. Also, you never know, you might actually be able to help someone through what you have learnt if you could just put it out there! It then becomes a continuous cycle of giving and receiving abundance in return.
Taming The Ego:
Your ego is out there to protect you, but this same ego is also sabotaging your dreams. Ego is that part of you that reacts out of self-preservation, sometimes depriving you of compassion for yourself and for those around you.
90% of the time we are acting on autopilot that is governed by our subconscious mind. These actions are based on habits formed over the years through our past experiences and the fears that have built up over time. Did you ever react to something in an exaggerated manner, only to realise upon reflection that it didn’t require such a response? That’s you on autopilot mode; totally unaware.
In most cases, ego is fear based. This goes back to the need for certainty. Our mind creates fear in hopes that it will protect us from a possible threat in the future. However, far from that, it actually only robs us of our present moment — the only real and certain thing we have. Having fears will not change the situation. The future will still remain uncertain, regardless. True contentment is accepting this and making the most out of our present and let go of the control over our future and actually face our fears.
Taming the ego requires us to train in awareness and to rewire the subconscious. The use of mindfulness techniques such as meditation, gratitude, and being present in the moment, through grounding, trains the mind to be an observer and to respond instead of reacting to whatever that goes on around us. The practice of saying or writing daily affirmations to yourself is proven to rewire your subconscious that is in control of the autopilot mode. Ultimately, the mind works by repetition, and the more you do it the more concrete it is and gradually, becomes a part of who you are.
Another way of working on the ego is to allow feedback. Be open to other opinions and viewpoints. The ego tends to resist feedback but only through taking in constructive criticisms, will you be able practice self-awareness and improve yourself, in order to live a purposeful life.
CONTENTMENT — THE ULTIMATE GOAL:
Every human is capable of experiencing a plethora of emotions. Wanting to be just happy all the time is unrealistic.
Our problem is that when we do experience little glimpses of happiness, we frantically want to hold on to it tightly, in the fear that it may go away. And in doing that, ironically, we are going farther away from it — resulting in frustration. Happiness, like any other emotion, comes and goes, and in realising that, we are better able to appreciate it and live in the moment.
In the same vein, one must realise that happiness and contentment are two different notions all together. While happiness can’t always be there, contentment, on the other hand can always be there — even in the midst of chaos. And that’s the place where you want to get to. That’s a realistic goal to have!
Living a fulfilling life, takes a lot of work, every single day, for a lifetime. But no matter how hard it is, you only live one life, so make it worthwhile!
Originally published on my Medium, on October 11, 2019. Click here to access it.