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The Importance of Good Self-Care

 

There are so many demands made on Bahá’ís at this time in history, when the needs of the Faith are so great and the workers so few.  Many people try to do it all, burn out, and then become inactive.  Let’s look at some ways to avoid this.

Moderation:

Baha’u’llah tells us we need to have moderation at all times, and not to overstep its bounds:

In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation. (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

Overstep not the bounds of moderation. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 235)

When our lives are out of balance, we won’t be able to exert a beneficial influence on the world.

Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 216)

Rest:

Taking care of your health is the best means to enable you to serve the Faith:

You should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It—the body—is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer meditation, but for real rest and relaxation.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 296)

Time to rest is essential or you will become weak and powerless and unable to work:

I understand you have been ill and obliged to rest; never mind, from time to time rest is essential, otherwise, like unto ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from excessive toil you will become weak and powerless and unable to work. Therefore rest a few days, it does not matter. I hope that you will be under the care and protection of the Blessed Beauty.  (Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanúm, The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, from a tablet to Shoghi Effendi written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

What did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá do?  Sometimes he hid from others while he recuperated!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved, on the 27th, to the hotel in Rue Lauriston where He had stayed before. He was very tired, and needed a few days’ rest before people learned where He resided.  (H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)

Sleep

Shoghi Effendi suggests that most of us need a minimum of 8 hours sleep each night; and tells us we should protect our health by sleeping enough:

Regarding your question: there are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours.  (Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations, V I, p. 459-488)

When we sleep, it should be to rest the body so we can be better teachers and servants, and when we orient ourselves in this way, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach us, we will be able to withstand all who inhabit the earth:

If he sleep, it should not be for pleasure, but to rest the body in order to do better, to speak better, to explain more beautifully, to serve the servants of God and to prove the truths. When he remains awake, he should seek to be attentive, serve the Cause of God and sacrifice his own stations for those of God. When he attains to this station, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach him, and man with this power can withstand all who inhabit the earth.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 384)

We Can’t Do Everything:

This is a faith of universal participation – everyone has a part to play; and one person can’t do it all:

A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing. This understanding is important to the maturity which, by the many demands being made upon it, the community is being forced to attain.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 80)

Conclusion:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked us to consider the human body as an example, and this was absolutely key to my understanding that the advent of the Most Great Peace was not on my shoulders alone.

In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different organs, parts and members. Human beauty and perfection require the existence of the ear, the eye, the brain and even that of the nails and hair; if man were all brain, eyes or ears, it would be equivalent to imperfection. So the absence of hair, eyelashes, teeth and nails would be an absolute defect, though in comparison with the eye they are without feeling, and in this resemble the mineral and plant; but their absence in the body of man is necessarily faulty and displeasing.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129)

I came to understand that I was just a big toenail; not the whole body.  I didn’t have to feel badly because I couldn’t see or walk, any more than the knee would expect to see; or the ear expect to walk.  But if I didn’t do my job as big toenail to the best of my ability, the whole body would suffer.

What body part best describes you?  Post your comments here:

Why I don’t Want to be Wealthy

 

As we learned in the previous blog posting, the Bahá’í Writings tell us the poor are “very dear to God”; “the mercies and bounties of God are with them”; they are “never forgotten” and they are “nearer the threshold of God”.

The mercies and bounties of God are with them. The rich are mostly negligent, inattentive, steeped in worldliness, depending upon their means, whereas the poor are dependent upon God, and their reliance is upon Him, not upon themselves. Therefore, the poor are nearer the threshold of God and His throne.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 33)

This is particularly appealing to someone like me, who doesn’t feel loved by any of the significant people in her life (parents, siblings, spouses or children).  I want to know that someone I can trust loves me!  If that keeps me poor, then so be it!

I can see where people might be confused on this issue.  On the one hand, we read quotes such as these, which suggest that we need wealth, acquired through crafts or professions:

Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 437)

And that if you want wealth, the secret is to engage in crafts and professions:

Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of  understanding! For results depend upon means, and the grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 281)

And that we have an obligation to expend our wealth on ourselves and our families (in that order):

The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds. (Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Persian 82)

On the other hand, you don’t want to have too much wealth, because the rich are described in negative terms:

The rich are mostly negligent, inattentive, steeped in worldliness, depending upon their means . . . (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 33)

Wealth is described as a “mighty barrier” between us and God:

Know ye in truth that wealth is a mighty barrier between the seeker and his desire, the lover and his beloved.   (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 53)

Very few rich people attain the court of God’s presence, or are content and resigned:

The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation.   (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 53)

God hasn’t promised mansions to those who associate with the rich:

God has not said that there are mansions prepared for us if we pass our time associating with the rich, but He has said there are many mansions prepared for the servants of the poor, for the poor are very dear to God. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 33)

As long as there are poor people, those with colossal wealth should not exist:

A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity.

Excessive of wealth is associated with tyranny:

A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153)

According to the Writings, their wealth has been found by “idle fancy” and they don’t know how to be self-sacrificing:

In idle fancy they have found the door that leadeth unto earthly riches, whereas in the manifestation of the Revealer of knowledge they find naught but the call to self-sacrifice. They therefore naturally hold fast unto the former, and flee from the latter.  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Ian, p. 28)

Having wealth can prevent you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven:

. . . riches do prevent the rich from entering the Kingdom; and again, He saith, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.’ If, however, the wealth of this world, and worldly glory and repute, do not block his entry therein, that rich man will be favoured at the Holy Threshold and accepted by the Lord of the Kingdom.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 195)

If the wealthy are able to use their wealth in service to God, it is highly meritorious.  I’m not sure how many of us are able to attain this level of generosity, self-sacrifice and detachment, as we’ve seen in previous quotes, so it’s better for us to avoid it:

If wealth and prosperity become the means of service at God’s Threshold, it is highly meritorious; otherwise it would be better to avoid them.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 437)

When you’re poor, you need to rely on God to supply your needs and be patient.  There’s a lot more obligation and responsibility on those who are wealthy:

Fear the sighs of the poor and of the upright in heart who, at every break of day, bewail their plight, and be unto them a benevolent sovereign. They, verily, are thy treasures on earth. It behoveth thee, therefore, to safeguard thy treasures from the assaults of them who wish to rob thee. Inquire into their affairs, and ascertain, every year, nay every month, their condition, and be not of them that are careless of their duty.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 236)

Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in altering conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to a very large number of the people. The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153)

He should be . . . bestowing a portion upon the destitute, and not refusing benevolence and favor to the unfortunate. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 50)

He admonished all that we must be the servants of the poor, helpers of the poor, remember the sorrows of the poor, associate with them; for thereby we may inherit the Kingdom of heaven. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 33)

Good God! is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest misery, can he enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the religion of God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give over a certain part of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. That is the foundation of the religion of God, and the most essential of the commandments.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 283-284)

Those who are wealthy should use their wealth as a means to draw close to God, instead of being so attached to their wealth that they forget God and His commandments:

If they are wealthy, they should make these bestowals a means of drawing nigh unto God’s Threshold, rather than being so attached to them that they forget the admonitions of the Pen of the Most High.   (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 437)

If they don’t, wealth will lead to destruction:

Turn to the Book of the Covenant, the Hidden Words, and other Tablets, lest the cord of your salvation become a rope of woe which will lead to your own destruction.   (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 437-438)

Once men acquire wealth, it’s easy to become so bewitched by their newly amassed wealth and status that they forget the true meaning of their lives; and they forget God.  Look what happens as a result:

How numerous are those negligent souls, particularly from among your own compatriots, who have been deprived of the blessings of faith and true understanding. Witness how, no sooner had they attained their newly amassed wealth and status, than they became so bewitched by them as to forget the virtues and true perfections of man’s station. They clung to their empty and fruitless lifestyle. They had naught else but their homes, their commercial success, and their ornamental trappings of which to be proud. Behold their ultimate fate. Many a triumphal arch was reduced to a ruin, many an imperial palace was converted into a barn. Many a day of deceit turned into a night of despair. Vast treasures changed hands and, at the end of their lives, they were left only with tears of loss and regret. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 438)

The wealthy have to protect their treasures and worry about someone stealing them:

Others ere long will lay hands on what ye possess, and enter into your habitations. Incline your ears to My words, and be not numbered among the foolish.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 260)

Would that the inhabitants of the world who have amassed riches for themselves and have strayed far from the True One might know who will eventually lay hand on their treasures; but, by the life of Bahá, no one knoweth this save God, exalted be His glory.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 171)

I knew someone who didn’t have a lot, but he was still afraid of losing it.  He wanted to have a home alarm system installed on his house, even though he lived in a tiny village where everyone knew each other and the crime rate was almost zero.  I couldn’t imagine living with this level of fear, suspicion and mistrust.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells a similar story:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá told a story about a Persian believer’s journeys and how he could not sleep at night while in the wilderness for fear of someone stealing his new shirt, a new gift from a prominent person. After several sleepless nights he decided to get rid of the shirt so he could relax.  (Rafati, Vahid, Sources of Persian Poetry in the Bahá’í Writings, Vol. lll, p. 80)

Wealth is fleeting and has no lasting effect:

How many kings have flourished in luxury and in a brief moment all has disappeared! Their glory and their honor are forgotten. Where are all these sovereigns now?  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 137)

They attained to wealth, to the comforts of life, to fame. And what was the final outcome? Utter evanescence and oblivion. Reflect upon this. Look upon it with the eye of admonition. No trace of them remains, no fruit, no result, no benefit; they have gone utterly — complete effacement.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 186)

Look what happens to someone who wrote to Baha’u’llah begging for wealth and prosperity:

Haji Muhammad-Baqir was a well-known merchant, foremost among the believers in faith, certitude and enthusiasm, and was serving the Cause with devotion and self-sacrifice.  This man attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad. There He wrote a letter to Him and begged for wealth and prosperity. In answer, this exalted and wonderful Tablet was revealed for him. In it Bahá’u’lláh stated that his request would be granted and that the doors of prosperity and wealth would be opened for him from every direction. He warned him, however, to be on his guard and not to allow riches to become a barrier and make him heedless.  Now you are here to attain the presence of Bahá’u’lláh and in the future you will witness that this man will be overtaken with fear to such an extent that he will renounce God and His Cause. Not long after, he will make substantial losses, following which he will write a letter to Bahá’u’lláh and repent. God will then turn his losses into profit and he will become again highly successful in his business and will emerge as the foremost merchant in Constantinople and Tabriz. However, this time he will wax prouder than before, more heedless and deprived… This time he will lose all his possessions, will be unable to continue trading and will become helpless in arranging his affairs. It is then that he will repent and return, and will be content to live as a poor man. He will spend the days of his life in the service of the Cause of God. His end will be blessed and he will receive great confirmations from God.’ He then said to me: ‘Remember all these things, for they will come to pass, and you shall witness them.’  (Adib Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, v2, p. 277-278)

Knowing this in advance, do you think you’d change your mind?  I know I would!

This doesn’t mean I’m always able to be grateful for my poverty, or that I am always free from anxiety about how my bills are going to be paid, so I find this quote reassuring:

The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties.  (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

Fortunately there’s another way of thinking about wealth.  In this dispensation it is described by the excellence of his conduct, in love of God and in detachment from luxuries.

Man’s distinction lieth in the excellence of his conduct and in the pursuit of that which beseemeth his station, not in childish play and pastimes. Know that thy true adornment consisteth in the love of God and in thy detachment from all save Him, and not in the luxuries thou dost possess. (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 62)

Now that’s a kind of wealth I can be comfortable with!

 

For more on this theme:

Does God want us to be Wealthy

When is Enough, Enough

5 Ways to Focus and Get Back on Task

In my life coaching practice, I’m often asked what the Bahá’í Writings teach about setting goals and keeping focused on the most important tasks. Each day, there are dozens of tasks calling our names, at work, at home and in our Bahá’í communities. With life being so busy it’s easy to lose focus on the big picture. Shoghi Effendi offered some guidance when he said:

[They] must approach their task with absolute detachment, and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues. (Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 67)

But, how many times have you gone to bed wondering what you actually accomplished that day? Or have you ever felt like your day was somehow wasted?

To avoid these feelings, you can try a few different methods to get yourself back on track. Rather than bemoaning your wasted time, resolve to regain your focus and get back on task.

There’s a famous quote about focus by the great philosopher Confucius: “If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.” True, there might be people who are able to multitask and do it relatively well; but more often than not, people who split their attention between two different tasks have a more difficult time completing both tasks well.That’s where detachment becomes so important.

Here are five ways to regain your focus and get back on task:

1.Eliminate the distractions. Get rid of the barriers that are causing you to avoid getting things done – it’s that simple! Forget about checking email every five minutes; those emails will still be there when you complete your task. Make a list of distractions and eliminate!

·Turn off the phone and let the voice mail take over.

·Close the blinds in your office.

·Turn off the music if you find yourself singing more than working.

·Simply closing the door to your office can give you more privacy and more focus.

2.Prioritize your work. Rather than working on projects simultaneously, take one thing at a time, focus on it, and worry about all the other projects later. Ultimately, you’ll get a lot more done and you’ll finish it more quickly. You’ll also be recognized by the high quality that you deliver when you’re free from distractions. As the Bahá’í Writings teach:

“Leave the important for the most important” (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 109)

·Find a way to prioritize that works best for you. Choose either the project that has the earliest deadline or the one with the least components so you can finish it quickly and get it out of the way. There are pros and cons to both systems so tackle it whichever way works for you.

3.Tell everyone to respect your time. There are many nice and respectful ways to tell people to back off. If you’re finding yourself in a time crunch and can’t seem to get away from others, consider letting them know that you need time to finish some important tasks. There are a lot of different ways to do it – just make sure you do!

·Set times that you’ll accept phone calls and even visitors. Tell them to contact you by email and then set a regular time to check your email.

·Set business hours during which people can expect you to return their calls or emails.

4.Set some limitations with your internet access. The internet is wonderful but it can be a huge time waster, especially if you work at a computer all day long. Regain your focus with some self-imposed rules.

·First, close all those windows you’re not using. Avoid MySpace or Facebook, quit searching on eBay, and leave messenger alone!

·Establish certain times each day to use these fun things and just focus on what you have to do. You’ll quickly accomplish more!

5.Have confidence in your abilities. This may seem like a really small thing when it comes to focusing and getting back on task, but believing that you can get everything done that you set out to do puts you in a positive frame of mind and you’ll be less distracted with stress and worry.

·Have confidence that you can complete each task with ease and believe in your ability to deliver. If you’ll just have the confidence, you’re sure to have the focus!

Now that you’ve been introduced to five ways to focus and get back on task, it’s up to you to take action and learn how to focus your thoughts. If you’ve got to get stuff done, follow these steps so you can put yourself – and your goals – first!

What helps you to focus and get back on track?Post your comments here.

Become an Expert in Your Field

The Bahai Faith teaches:  “The attainment of any object is conditioned upon knowledge, volition and action. Unless these three conditions are forthcoming there is no execution or accomplishment.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 101.

If you want to stand out from the crowd or competition at work, then you need to be seen as an expert in your field. This takes knowledge, will and action on your part and not just walking around telling people that you’re an expert.

Everyone has the potential to be an expert at what they do. Here are a few simple steps that you’ll need to follow first to be recognized as an expert.

Educate Yourself

First and foremost, make sure that you’re educated on what you’re doing.

  • Take evening courses at a local college or university to help further your education and keep you up to date on the latest knowledge and technology.
  • Read more. It doesn’t matter what you do as a profession, you need to take advantage of the vast knowledge in the library or on the internet.

By expanding your knowledge you’ll also build your confidence. Tell me one person that was ever seen as an expert that didn’t believe in themselves and what they were doing. Can you name one? Not likely! With knowledge comes confidence.

Demonstrate Your Knowledge

It’s one thing to talk about what you know, but it’s something else entirely to actually do it.  Let’s look at this quote from the Bahai Writings:

Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervor in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings.

(Shoghi Effendi: Living the Life, p. 4.)

Experts don’t walk around and brag about what they can do, they take action. If you encounter a difficult problem or situation, you’ll be able to take charge and find a solution.

  • Be proactive. If a problem arises, take action right away to find a solution. If you don’t know the answer yourself, pray, consult and search out someone who does. Even experts need to learn new things and they aren’t afraid to admit it to others.

Learn to be a Great Communicator

People have to understand what you can do and why you’re the best one to do it. This means that you have to understand and foresee the questions and concerns of others, then prepare and articulate the answers and solutions to them.

  • Great communicators don’t just boss others around. Use your communications skills to teach and empower your coworkers.


Always Act With Integrity


Don’t take credit for things you haven’t done and don’t take shortcuts. Skipping out on doing something the right way doesn’t make you an expert, however, this doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself.

There will always be things we’re not so good at. In those circumstances, you have to learn how to delegate those responsibilities to others who have the skills required to get the job done. Part of being a good expert is seeing the strengths of others and how their talents can be put to good use.

  • Give others credit for a job well done. Wise leaders and the most incredible of experts don’t do everything themselves. They have a talented team around them who have the skills they themselves lack.

By following these simple steps you’ll become the person with the answers. These are the experts who become irreplaceable and well respected because they take action.

How have you developed expertise in your field?Post your comments here.

Forming a Vision for your Next Career Move

Did you know that the average person will change careers 7 times in a lifetime? So it’s natural for people to be considering what they want to do next. The key is to find one that you really love and enjoy. There are a thousand career options open to you today, so there is a great chance that you can find a line of work that you can excel in and which also gives you sustained gratification.

The following exercise will help you to determine your likes and dislikes as well as your career aspirations.

Please take your time in answering the questions, and as you answer, you will start to formulate some conclusions as to what is “right” and what is “wrong” in a career for you.

LIFESTYLE

Identify the key characteristics of your ideal lifestyle – what would they be? Challenge yourself to think of at least 10. (i.e. 2 hours quality time with the kids every night, earn $60,000 a year, 30 minute travel time to work, 2 holidays per year, work in a team, etc.)

Does/will your current career allow you to achieve your ideal lifestyle?

LIKES/DISLIKES

What are your likes and dislikes at work? Make 2 lists below.

What activities do you enjoy?

Which activities would you rather avoid?

Does your current job have more likes or dislikes?

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES

What are your key strengths and weaknesses? (Consider the following: experience, qualifications, training, ability, attitude and knowledge).

PERSONALITY

Does your current career fit with your personality type? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Do you like to learn by doing or by thinking and reflecting?

Do you like variety and changes to the work that you complete or do you like routine and certainty?

IDEAL DAY AT WORK

Describe in as much detail your ideal day at work – what sort of things would you be doing?

IDEAL CAREER – CHARACTERISTICS

Write a sentence or two which includes all of the above ideas, then based on all that you have written so far, determine the ideal career for you.

Assignment:

Research has shown that when you identify a goal and tell another person about it, you’re more likely to carry it out.

To hold you accountable for moving forward, I’d like you to set a goal from this new learning, and post it in the comments: , and then when you’ve achieved it, I’d like you to post that too.

Are you struggling with this assignment? I’m here to help! Contact me for a 30 min free get-acquainted session.

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