This Messy Magnificent Life is an awesome book, I rated it at 9/10⭐
This Messy Magnificent Life Summary
Life is Full of Beauty
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ – 2:155
SAHIH INTERNATIONAL: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,“
If we are constantly stressed and busy, it is hard to take a moment and appreciate life’s beauty. We all have our own expectation of life, and when we fall away from our expectation, we get stressed and start asking ourselves, “What is wrong with me?“.
Well, you don’t need to keep thinking something is wrong with you.
Be comfortable with who you are, as you are. Let yourself feel all that you feel, but without having to act on every feeling. Reflect on your emotions without accepting the worry, loneliness and lack of self-esteem that those feelings might bring. Keep those demons at bay!
She suggests that living with a constant sense of having to be better is a form of suffering.
The antidote she uses was to relinquish narratives of the past and “drop the me”. So, you can turn to the “peace and quiet joy” that is always present. Always present! If only we’re looking.
My issues with food probably aren’t about food
This particular lesson touches me in places I would rather not go.
Many people, myself included, at times believe that most of their (my) problem will disappear if they lose a certain amount of Kg. But after every diet, yeah, every diet, even when I lost weight, the pain and difficulties seem to stay put. Hence, the weight is gained again.
So, it clearly shows that food isn’t the problem. Avoiding pain is the basis of any addiction. Some would even suggest that another basis of addiction would be a lack of personal connection.
However, as long as the root pain remains, so will addiction to food (or any other addiction for that matter). Addictive behaviour and its ramifications destroy you, both externally and internally, while distracting you from your real pain.
These behaviours itself provide a problem, that is, keeping your valuable time to focus on that isn’t the larger issue hiding behind whatever the addictions conceal.
She suggests that,
“Stop trying to be the self you imagine you would be if you were smarter, prettier, thinner, kinder, more accomplished than you are.”
Which in essence would be liberating.
Even writing about it, makes me feel better about myself really.
Wow. Love the book!
This Messy Magnificent Life: More on dieting
One of the first show on Netflix which I watched was the magic pill.
It turns out to be that there is no such thing as the magic pill.
I was bitterly disappointed.
If the weight-loss industry works, it wouldn’t make $60 billion a year. So, dieting doesn’t make your pain disappear. Since our sense of emptiness inside is real. Islam teaches us to stop eating before you’re full and to start eating only when you’re hungry. But nowadays, it kind of hard to stop eating when you’re full.
Since most of the time, we eat not because we are hungry, but rather to fill a void in our life. Eating to fill that silence doesn’t work. Instead, listen to it.
Try this. When you’re not at the table, take a moment to notice the silences between eating and not eating.
We often want more, even more of something that we don’t really want, to avoid having nothing. But, imagine if we were to get comfortable with the emptiness that you’ve been avoiding.
By doing so, we’ll learn more about ourselves, more about the sadness that we’ve yet to understand and actually discover how more food can never satisfy the longing that remains afterwards.
So, identify the longing and address it.
This Messy Magnificent Life: Improve your “Attention and Noticing”
We often see more of the things we put our mind up for.
For example, if we were thinking about buying a Ford Mustang (I know it kind of random, but I’m thinking about buying one), so you might end up noticing more of these cars on the road.
Similarly, if we’re thinking more about problems, we became more embroiled in them. But if we were to think about the things we are grateful for, we might end up feeling blessed.
So, the question is, where does our attention go?
If we see the world through the lens of all that we don’t have, then we’ll only notice what we’re missing. This might lead to a feeling of scarcity and loneliness. That’s bad.
Handling moment of crisis
So, here’s her suggestion on how to handle the moment of crisis and panicky thoughts which imprison us in our own mind.
Focus on your breathing (just like meditation) Or for Muslims, it might be a good idea to perform prayer (salah).
Just as when Prophet Muhammad was burdened with a problem, he asks his companion, Bilal RA, to call for prayer, to relieve him of the burden of his problems. But I think it would only work if the salah performed with khusyu’.
Hence, rather than entertaining the negative trains of thoughts in your head, breath. Several times a day, notice a single full breath, from your first intake of air all to the final moment of exhaling.
Your Ghost Selves
We are not our past! Our past is there to teach us important lessons along the way but they shall not define us.
This Messy Magnificent Life: Notice your triggers
Your triggers, which lead to acts which you want to stop doing, usually follows a pattern.
Notice the pattern and stop the pattern from repeating itself.
Simply by noticing these triggers, in term of how and when these triggers tend to happen will diminish its power.
Just as it is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ الطَّاغُوتِ فَقَاتِلُوا أَوْلِيَاءَ الشَّيْطَانِ ۖ إِنَّ كَيْدَ الشَّيْطَانِ كَانَ ضَعِيفًا – 4:76
Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak.
So, remember guys, pay attention to these triggers.
Blaming & Complaining
Blaming others for behaving as they always do makes no sense. Don’t point fingers.
On complaining, she wrote this …
To complain is “like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”
In essence, complaining makes you avoid the present by reliving a past moment and comparing it to a fantasy situation. However, complaining is a common form of communication. Overcoming it takes efforts. Lots of it.
For many people, the conversation becomes an exchange of complaints. Learn how not to share your misery or frustration. Avoiding complaining is hard, I know, but it will become worthwhile as you begin to notice other things.
It also brightens your mood.
What’s Not Wrong?
The monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh asked students at his Buddhist farm, Plum Village Center in France, to raise their hands if they were not suffering from a toothache. Everyone did.
The experience of “not-a-toothache” is worth recognizing and celebrating. He proposed his students celebrate their lack of toothaches and consider all their other toothache-free moments in life. Day to day, problems loom large.
Unfortunately, that means you can easily forget all that’s good or painless. Ask, “What’s not wrong in your life?” five times a day. Spend 10 seconds on it each time, and realize how much good is around you that you might ignore.
The books are awesome. Initially wanted to split the notes into a few posts but it kind of making it hard for me to refer to it later on.
Again, you can buy the book from the link below. Great read. I highly recommend it.
Another great read on life is Ray Dalio’s “The Principle” and Meng’s “Search Inside Yourself”. And for happiness, try reading “5 thieves of happiness“, Shawn Achor’s “Before Happiness” and “Happiness- A History”.