Should a man wish to know whether he is rising or falling in religious terms, he should look at how his state and conduct had been a month or a year ago. If he finds that they were better than his present state and conduct, he should know that he is descending into degradation; whereas if he finds that his present state and conduct are better, he should know that he is rising and improving. It has been handed down that “he who finds that his day resembles the previous day has been cheated, and he who finds that his day is worse that the previous day is accursed.”
Accursed here means remote from a particular and specially accorded to mercy. He who is not increasing is diminishing. To explain, if when thinking about previous days, you feel that you then had no desire for the world, were eager for the Hereafter, scrupulously avoided doubtful things, were quick to good actions, quick to obedience, remote from transgressions, and by comparison are now no better or are to any extent worse, then know that you are going down, deteriorating in religion, in your aspiration for God, and in striving for the Hereafter.
You should then feel apprehensive and fearful and then begin to show resolution and exert effort. If, on the other hand, you find that you have more aspiration and eagerness than before, then thank God the Exalted even more, remember His gifts and graciousness, and be ever attentive to them. You should not feel pleased with yourself, nor think that it is due to your own ability and power, for as God the Exalted has said, Had it not been for the favor upon God upon you, and His mercy, not one of you would ever have grown pure; but God purifies whom He wills, and God is all-hearing, all-knowing (24:21)
Imam ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, Knowledge and Wisdom (Fusus al-’ilmiyah wa-al-usul al-hikamiyah)