Vigilance in the Midst of Problems
Basically some persons do not come to themselves and wake up unless confronted with hardship. A tree that has been forced to make a place for itself in the midst of rocks grows to be hardy and strong due to its constant struggle against unfavourable factors. It will be able to withstand storms and resist unfavourable conditions.
A psychologist writes:
Young people should be made to understand that in order to achieve their goals, they should not expect a smooth ride over a well-paved road. Few have ever gotten anywhere without facing disappointing obstacles. Whenever we confront problems in the right spirit, not only they will not be a hindrance but will be helpful to our progress. No exercise is more beneficial than the effort to overcome problems.
The psychologists have shown that more than thirty-five per cent of ordinary people do not make use of the years of their lives. Even those who are conspicuously active and attain to considerable positions and ultimately obtain success, make use of only a fifty per cent of their lifetime.
There are some people who cease making progress on reaching a certain stage and they can not extend the scope of their activity to advance beyond the point they have reached to a higher altitude or a more distant horizon. This kind of persons actually possess the essential merits necessary for growth only to an inadequate extent and their capacity for progress is limited. One's ability and will power are the greatest asset for progress and development, and one may either squander this capital or invest it with profit.
Every step that one takes is the product of one's ideas, will, and determination. If these are weak and insignificant, the product of one's work will also not be significant or valuable. When persons with a weak will make a decision, they are shaky and beset with doubt and hesitation. A small remark from others makes them change their mind and revise their plans. Weak persons are perpetually vacillating and of a divided mind. With their uncertainty and flickering character they prove that they are not their own masters and, like a leaf carried about by the wind, have to follow the will of others in all situations. Hesitation and indecision are often equal to failure.
One who constantly wastes his time worrying about trifling details and delving on insignificant matters, only fretting and brooding over his problems under the influence of diverse motives without taking action, certainly wastes his ability, energy and time by delay and procrastination. He will be unable to reach the sources of success.
How often it happens that precious time and valuable talents are wasted as a result of indecision and delay, and a promising life is turned into defeat and failure! When one falls victim to such a fruitless and sterile spirit, what power can help him overcome the obstacles faced in life? Imagine a contrary situation, of someone who is not of a divided mind and stable in his decisions. He does not waste his time waiting for some favourable accident to occur. Rather, having a determined faith in his own ability, he does not abandon his righteous goal due to the objections of critics. Nothing can make him turn away from the path that he has chosen rightly. He discards any kind of stray thoughts and plans contrary to his goal which may cross his mind. On encountering such persons in life one can well appreciate the strength of their character and the great value of the achievements of those who combine within themselves the power of several individuals.
In any case, success is not possible without decisiveness, because faith in one's success is itself half of success, and victory comes to those who are determined to be victorious.
There are many people who cannot pursue a task to its end due to indecision. For instance, if they are attracted by a profession and trade, for some time they pursue it with great interest and enthusiasm. But as soon as they face difficulties, their interest and enthusiasm disappears and they become disappointed. Next time they take up some other trade that has brought success and advancement to some people.
Thus they remain shaky and uncertain all their lives and constantly keep on shifting from one profession to another. While selecting a profession or trade they do not make use of their minds and their power of judgement . Before they can discover the secret behind others' success and evaluate their own performance and achievement in life, suddenly it dawns upon them that they have spent a lifetime in learning and abandoning various trades. That is because they could not remain firm in their decisions or persevere in their work until the final fruitful stages. They discover that throughout life they have missed all the appropriate chances and opportunities, which arise only rarely.
One of the afflictions of the person with a weak will is that he is always subject to his desires and caprices. He might be able to distinguish the right way, but unfortunately what he chooses is a deviant path. He continues on a course of action so long as his desires and appetites do not dissuade him. Moreover, even a minor accident is sufficient to render him helpless and despondent and to bring him on his knees.
We need a strong and steady will in order to resist the pressure of misleading and destructive desires. A basic condition for being able to derive a right and desirable result from our will is to follow the dictates of reason in our decisions and exercising our will. There is a world of difference between a higher will reliant on reason and conscience and an impulsive will that acts under the impulses of perverse feelings, pride and egoism. While the first is the source of human felicity and happiness, being fundamental to success, the other leads to wretchedness and degeneration.
One who employs his will to satisfy his selfish motives and to commit all sorts of offences and acts contrary to human dignity is in fact devoid of freedom and is a captive of carnal appetites. One comes across many dark and bloody pages in the history of mankind which are a consequence of this kind of unruly will.
The person who resorts to suicide on encountering the slightest hardship in life has a weak intellect and lacks courage and manliness. That is because he succumbs to the problems and difficulties of life, which proliferate in all spheres of human life, and confesses to his own weakness and abasement by his action.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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