The end of one year and the start of a new one is a natural time for people to look back on the previous year and reflect. We think about what we accomplished, what we could have done better, and what changed in our lives and the world around us.
This kind of introspection and reflection is obviously a good thing. It makes us more grateful for what we’ve gained and allows us to learn from our mistakes. Throughout the Qur’an, there are reminders that we should reflect, think, and ponder; New Year’s is just another opportunity to do all of those things.
If we’re honest, though, most of us would have to admit that this state of mind is usually temporary. A few weeks or months pass, and we become so focused on the new year that we forget the lessons we learned from the previous one. This is natural, because we can’t always stay stuck in the past – ultimately, we must look ahead and continue to live our lives.
However, when a period of time passes in this pattern –say, five, ten, or twenty years– most people have regrets because they tend to mistakes over and over again. We look back on our lives and wish we had done things differently. I personally have regrets about some choices I made as well as how I spent my time. I wish I had cared less about what people thought of me, and more about what Allah thought of me. I wish I had spent less of my free time on things that were of no benefit to me in this life or the Afterlife. And I wish I had set aside some of my petty desires and been more focused on what will benefit me once I leave this world.
Every person’s regrets are different, but we all know how it feels. Regret is a terrible feeling. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve thrown something away and then realize that you should have kept it. Or you broke something that you should have preserved. Oftentimes those things are time and relationships. But no matter what it is that you regret, I think we can all agree that regret is a feeling that we want to avoid. That sounds like an awesome New Year’s resolution to me!
The Key to Avoiding Regrets as We Move Forward:So how do we go about accomplishing such a big goal? The Prophet (saws) actually gave us an easy method in the form of a list of things we should take advantage of:
“The Messenger of Allah (saws) said, ‘Take advantage of five [things] before five [others]:
1) Your youth before your old age
2) Your health before your illness
3) Your wealth before your poverty
4) Your free time before your preoccupation, and
5) Your life before your death.’”
It also helps to remember that just like a person looks back later on in life at the years that have passed, we will look back at the life of this world on the Day of Judgment. On that day, we will all have regrets, but we can at least try not to have any major ones.
“Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your full compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, then surely he is successful. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion?” (Qur’an 3:185)
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