‘Eid Mubarak to all my wonderful sisters!
‘Eid-ul-Fitr gives us the opportunity to celebrate not only the blessings that the month of Ramadhan brought us, but it also reminds us of all the blessings Allah (SWT) bestows upon us throughout our lives. However, I wonder how long we manage to keep this feeling of celebration and gratitude after ‘Eid has passed. Often, our normal routine takes over and we lose the specialness of the days and moments just gone. The month of Ramadhan has a unique, celebratory quality to it, but once it passes, so does our sense of daily celebration.
Take a moment to think about your daily routine. Do you get caught up in the busyness? Are you often stressed out, or find yourself complaining about things just because you’re tired? Perhaps your friends keep telling you to take some time out for yourself. Do you take their advice? Many sisters don’t usually take much time out, or they feel guilty if they do. Take sister Farzana’s example. She has five kids and is a devoted mother. However, when she came to coaching, she had very little energy left to give to her children. She looked tired and run down, had put on a lot of weight and was feeling quite depressed overall. After digging a bit deeper, I discovered that she never took any time out, even though she had the option of help available. She was feeling quite negative and resentful about her life. Her life, to her, felt like a big chore, with nothing to celebrate. She hadn’t had any time off in years. After some exploration, she realised that she was left guilt-ridden by a comment that someone had made when she was a new mum. They had suggested that a mum who takes any time out is a bad mother. Farzana had taken this comment to heart and hardly ever left her children because she felt they were her responsibility.
Do you find yourself responsible for a demanding job, in-laws, or perhaps children? Maybe you are so busy that you don’t take any time to just be, or enjoy life. For many of us, life is now about getting the job done, and taking time to smell the roses just doesn’t feel like an option. Reflect on your own situation for a moment. How are you feeling at the end of the day? Is tiredness pretty much a constant state? Look even deeper for a moment. How fulfilled are you feeling? Does life hold any joy or a sense of wonder about it? I imagine not. When we are busy running and doing, life has little wonder or enjoyment left. So how do we get out of this situation? We need to do two things. The first is to take time to rest, but that is not the subject of our discussion. The second, sometimes more challenging, is to incorporate a little bit of celebration into our everyday life. Let’s look at why celebration is important, and lets explore a few tips on how to add a sense of celebration into our everyday lives.
Celebration is an attitude of gratitude!
Celebration is often thought of as something to “do” when an occasion arises. Of course, occasions give us a wonderful reason to take time out, to be with friends and family, and to just give ourselves a bit of a break from the routine. However, celebration is not something we do, but rather an attitude we adopt that then becomes a way of being. Being appreciative of life comes through in our actions, and then celebration becomes the way in which we live life. Think of someone you know who is truly appreciative of life and the blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon him or her. How does this attitude show in their behaviour? I imagine that they are optimistic and feel pretty healthy most of the time, not to mention the fact that they probably get things done. This is because celebrating life motivates us to make the most of it. Celebration doesn’t have to be something that takes a lot of effort, it can just be taking a stroll in the park and appreciating the flowers, looking at the stars, or just enjoying the warmth of a cup of tea. Taking these little moments to appreciate life provides a real ‘break’ from it all and motivates us to act when we get going again.
Give guilt the ‘heave-ho’
Feeling guilty will instantly ruin any sort of celebration. Guilt often comes about when we feel we ‘shouldn’t’ be taking a break, or don’t really deserve one. The purpose of the guilt is to keep us motivated towards doing things, but it accomplishes quite the opposite. Guilt keeps us in the cycle of the ‘doing’ but it doesn’t add to the quality of what we are doing. We still remain tired, and perhaps other negative emotions such as anger, or blame get in the way. Think about the last time that you felt guilty about taking a break, or doing something just to enjoy the moment. What happened? Did you do what you wanted to do? And if so, how did it feel? And if you kept on with what you should have been doing, how did that feel? I imagine that whichever way you went, the feeling was equally unpleasant. The only way to truly feel motivated is to explore the true reason for why you want to do what you’re doing.
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Why am I doing these things? What does doing them give me?
• What is causing me to feel guilty when I decide to take a break?
• How might I take a real break to enjoy the moment, and be there to do what I need to get done?
Write a daily Gratitude List
Nothing saps our energy like having a lot to do, but having nothing to look forward to. The first thing we need to do here is to begin to appreciate what we already have before we can feel enthusiastic about what’s to come. At the end of every day, take 5 minutes to write down all the things that you feel grateful for at that moment. They could be small things that happened during the day, such as getting to work on time, or having a nice phone conversation, to something of significance like passing an exam. Some days will only bring one thing, while others will have more. With practice, you will begin to notice that the glass is not only half full, but that you truly have a lot to appreciate. The next step is to write down one or two ways in which you can regularly celebrate life. Perhaps it is taking a walk in the park 3 times a week, or having a weekly coffee with a friend. You will notice yourself appreciating life even more as you continue to implement them into your life.
Just stop for a moment
It is essential to stop and savour the moment; that is what celebration and enjoying life is all about. You may well have lots to do, but stopping for a while may make you even more productive than you already are. Choose a time of day when you will be able to take a few minutes out without someone demanding your attention. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, breathing into your diaphragm and releasing each breath slowly through your mouth. Allow your attention to flow inwards and notice what it is that you need and promise yourself to honour this need. These few moments of slowing down will enhance productivity when you’re busy doing things. Remember, first be, then do, then have the results you want!
Insha Allah, celebration will help us all attain further closeness to Allah (SWT) as well as motivate us to live a more energetic and purposeful life. I hope that these tips will get you well on your way. Soon you will notice lots of reasons to celebrate the life you have, insha Allah.
Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com