Asalaamu ‘alaikum sisters! I wonder if you have been thinking about your future lately. Spring has a unique energy in that it encourages us to plan our futures and think about what kind of life we want to have. We usually think about how we want to impact our loved ones, but do we think about our impact on the larger world? A great many of us don’t even realise that we are affecting the whole world, especially when we are busy in our day-to-day lives. I became quite aware of this when something interesting happened a couple of years ago.
I was buying groceries at a grocery store (not my usual store). A Muslim brother was among the till staff and I happened to be in his line. When he was ringing up my groceries, he asked if I wanted a plastic bag for the flowers I was buying. I said no because I had my trolley case. I usually make conversation while at the till, so I just happened to mention that it would be another bag to recycle. His response surprised me. He said, “there’s no point in recycling, the world is all going to end anyway.” Being quite shocked, I asked him, “so what about our kids and the younger generations? What about leaving a clean planet for them?” He said, “who cares, it doesn’t matter; it’s all going to end.”
What really surprised me was how disconnected he was with the effect he was leaving behind, especially as our faith teaches us to consider that. He was not looking beyond his own life. He didn’t have any awareness that a dirty environment would impact young children growing up in his own family. Holding such a short-term perspective demonstrates that we don’t factor in our impact on the world on a larger scale. This will translate into more selfish actions; we may even hurt other people in the long run. All humans have an intrinsic relationship with the world and humanity. By being aware of our relationship with the world, we can make the changes we need to make in order to create a positive impact now and in the long run.
The opportunity here is to become more aware of how our behaviour creates an impact in the long run and to lead by example. So lets look at some ways in which we can learn how to enhance our relationship with the world and then leave a positive legacy behind, insha Allah.
Notice your impact
Think of the last time that a stranger’s behaviour really got to you. Perhaps they were rude to you or cut you off in traffic. How did that feel? OK, this was a direct incident, but events that seem removed from us impact us all the time. For example, look at all the security we face each time we fly. We are all inconvenienced because of the past actions of a few. The good news is that the impact we have can be positive instead of negative, depending on our own behaviour and attitude.
Imagine that you have a friend who came to you during a big family crisis. You help her, console her and even cheer her up. In fact, you say something that impacts her so positively that she makes a change in how she deals with her family. This helps her children be happier at home and they start doing better in their schoolwork over time. You may not know it, but what you said impacted so many people, not just the one. Our daily interactions with people have effects that reach far beyond our realisation. Take a moment now to think about the five closest people in your life. How do you think you impact them on a daily basis?
Ask yourself the following questions:
• What is the quality of my interactions with the closest people in my life?
• How do my interactions affect them? What kind of mood are they left in?
• How do these moods then affect people they interact with?
• What is my impact on the world through the people I know?
• How are my daily behaviours impacting the world? Are there any areas where I may be leaving a negative effect in the long run?
• What are three things that I can now do differently?
The above questions will be helpful in giving you insight into how you impact those close to you and society on a larger scale.
Pass it forward!
One of the most important things we can do is to pass good deeds forward. Each time you learn something new, pass on the energy and teach it to someone else. If someone does something nice for you, then do something nice for someone else without them asking. The idea here is to keep positive energy in motion. Each time we do something good, not only do we feel good, but we also create a larger and more positive impact naturally. One way of developing this practice is to set yourself a “good deed target” daily. You may just find yourself smiling more!
Spend time in nature
Being on computers and indoors a lot with more to do than we have time for all adds to the stress we feel. What happened the last time you took a long walk in the park? How did you feel afterwards? You may have noticed that being in nature and being stressed just don’t go together. Modern life disconnects us from the natural world. We are indoors, we buy packaged food, we don’t often notice sunrises – all of this will stop us noticing the impact we are having on others and on the planet.
Take regular walks in the park, sit in your garden or just get some fresh air once a day. If you can, take a couple of days out to be in nature. Not only will your stress dissipate, but you will begin to notice the wonder of Allah (SWT)’s creation. Being in nature is fascinating and it encourages you to ask questions and connect with our environment. Take your children to a farm or on an afternoon in the country. Noticing the wonder of the world inspires us to want to take care of it. Taking care of the world means we live in the best way possible and leave a wonderful legacy behind us insha Allah.
Adopt three “green” habits
Now is the moment to make a productive change. This can all seem overwhelming, but small changes often have a lasting positive impact. Choose three small ways in which you will go “green” in your life. For example:
• Switch light bulbs to energy savers
• Use long-life grocery bags
• Turn off lights when you leave the room
• Turn off your computer at night
• Use cloth instead of paper towels to clean your kitchen
Pick small behaviours that will easily fit into your life. This way, you will feel good and create something good as well.
We all have a relationship with larger society and the natural world. Understanding the impact we have is the first step towards changing our behaviour for the better. Insha Allah I hope that we can all be inspired to leave a positive legacy behind. My best wishes to you on this wonderful awakening.
Sayeda Habib works with sisters to inspire them to enhance their self-confidence, explore solutions to problems, and to change their lives for the better. To get in touch with Sayeda log on to www.makelifehappen.com, call +44(0)207 402 0786 or email Sayeda@makelifehappen.com