Human psychology is a very dry subject. Maybe because sometimes we just don’t want to know the reasons behind what we are doing unless our acts are making us feel satisfied. Satisfaction for different people has different meanings. It depends on geographical, social, cultural and even religious factors. As far as society is concerned, social norms are formed when psychology of a group of individuals overwhelm that of the rest. This can be positive or negative.
As ordinary as we are, we have limited ourselves to certain psychological terminologies around which our lives revolve. We are either optimists or pessimists. We either have a low self-esteem or a higher one. We are either under-confident or over-confident. It is a fact that proper balance is missing in our lives. The reason for this is the fact that we haven’t actually established the correct meanings of the very terms around which our lives tend to take a merry-go-round ride. The virus of materialism has corrupted the hard disks of our minds so badly that even the best of anti-viruses are unable to detect the real problem.
I heard Maulana Tariq Jameel (a great Islamic speaker) put this scenario into words very aptly. According to him, there are two things, actions (aamal) and knowledge (ilm). If the actions of a nation go astray, there is a chance that they might recover. But if the knowledge of a nation gets off track; it reaches a point of no return.
Now let’s take a look at a couple of very common terms which have a very deep impact on our lives as a society.
Optimism: The word refers to a state of being hopeful and emphasizing on the positives of a situation. We tend to mix its meanings with the word ‘opportunism’ which describes a behavior in which every situation may be used for one’s own advantage. The point I’m trying to make over here is that we’ve linked the wrong meanings to words which can be actually very useful to us if understood correctly.
Man is never thankful to ALLAH (SWT). He is always asking for more and more. In our case: more and more money. We have developed a notion in our minds that an optimist is a person who never relaxes in his quest to conquer the world. You have to be an optimist in order to gain power, status and respect. We are told to never give up our quest and use optimism as a tool to keep going.
Pessimism: It refers to a behavior in which emphasis is given to the bad parts of a situation. We mix its meaning with the word ‘lethargic.’
A pessimist in our society is a person who has feels contented with what he has and does not aim ‘High.’ A person who feels happy for others is a pessimist. They are considered not to have enough competitive drive in them. They get don’t get up in the morning aiming to step over someone else’s shoulder to move ahead in life.
We have gone so wrong in our assumptions about life. The one who we think is a pessimist is actually an optimist. They find satisfaction in whatever they do. They sleep well and have no worries in their minds when they wake up in the morning. They thank ALLAH (SWT) for all they have and do not complain for what they don’t.
On the other hand, the ‘optimist’ is always worried about not being left behind in ‘The Race.’ They sleep with nervous thoughts in their minds and wake up with the same. They are surrounded by complexes at all times; both inferior and superior.
Alas! If we could only realize that ALLAH (SWT) has promised to sustain us unconditionally but He has not promised to forgive us unless we thank and obey Him. We are running and competing in a race which has no finish line. Our lives get finished but our desires don’t. Let’s all pray that ALLAH (SWT) forgives us and enables us to thank Him for all that He has blessed us with. Aameen.
Hammad A. Mateen