Some (Islamic) advice on keeping your New Year’s Resolutions

I’m sure most of you have made some kind of resolution for 2016, something that you feel needs correction and work. I’m personally back on a low-carb diet and I’m making sure to re-incorporate some of the ancient wisdom practices I abandoned after my experiments.

But, most people fail at their New Year’s resolutions. A burst of enthusiasm in January is not enough enough to sustain good habits over the entire year.

Over the holidays I picked up a book of Hadiths, or sayings or teachings that are attributed to Mohammed. Some of them seemed particularly useful to to those of us who vowed to better this year so I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Don’t over-exert yourself

The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights.”

-Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38

It doesn’t make sense for you to work out every day in January, and then do nothing February – December. Better to work out twice per week consistently throughout the year. While your enthusiasm is a great source of energy, know that it will run out eventually and you will need to rely on consistent habits to make it through.

Be wary of gray areas

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor.

-Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49

If you being coming up with all sorts of rationalizations of why you can violate your resolutions just this once, it’s probably best just to avoid violating it entirely. If you made a commitment to call your parents more frequently and you come up with perfectly good reasons about why you can’t, just call them.

Don’t be an obnoxious convert

The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. (He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time).

– Volume 1, Book 3, Number 68

If you achieve some success with your resolutions, you will naturally want all your friends to know how awesome you are and that they should do the exact same thing that you did. Just don’t. Let your results speak for themselves. Share when appropriate. Don’t be that person who keeps trying to get me to go to Soul Cycle.

Cheers to a 2016 full of ancient wisdom!

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