The only way to succeed is to acknowledge what you already have, as little as you might think it is, this step is essential. You won’t be going anywhere until you realize what you’ve got to work with, and with that comes the realization that you’ve got a lot more than you think. You might need to be very creative, resilient, imaginative, and persistent, but there is a way, and it’ll only appear before you if you are willing to take stock of your present situation, warts and all.
Nobody’s perfect, we all know it, but too many of us still strive to achieve this, thinking in the back of our minds that someone has reached that goal, and we’re just a few steps behind. Well, good luck on that slippery slope! Perfection isn’t the goal. If you are trying to get unstuck, looking at a magnificent, unachievable goal might feel like an impossibility. Knowing where you came from and what tools you have available will help you draw a workable map that can lead you to the next signpost. Once you get there you may decide you want to change direction, so don’t get consumed with your initial objective, things change, and you might find that your priorities have changed as well. You might find that the goal you set yourself to meet isn’t something you wish for anymore, and you want something different, perhaps bigger, perhaps smaller. The idea is to keep track of your steps, to acknowledge all the little things that went into getting you where you are now, and be grateful you made it this far. Whatever happens from here, will be the icing on the cake!
All paths begin one step at a time, nobody reaches their goal from the get-go, certainly no goal worth achieving. Gratitude is the gateway to all sorts of possibilities, and it’s so simple to incorporate in our daily lives!
I remember about twenty years ago our dear Oprah, whilst undergoing the tremendous trial she faced against the meat industry, and with the guidance of the famous Dr. Phil (whom she catapulted to superstardom), she started a gratitude journal, and urged all her viewers to do the same. We all know she has a lot to be grateful for, but this was a very difficult time for her, and what she turned to in this time of need, was the simple act of saying thanks to all the good things she had, rather than allowing the torturous challenges of having a multi-million dollar industry attacking you from every angle and for all your worth to get the best of her.
I had started my own gratitude journal at the time, liking the idea, but eventually stopped maintaining this habit. I reverted to the habit of writing when I was frustrated or upset, to be able to vent and process my struggles, but I didn’t balance it out with written acknowledgements of my gratitude. I am grateful, dozens, if not hundreds of times each day, but only in my mind, and verbally. I rarely took the time to document my gratitude, whilst painstakingly documenting my grief.
This Ramadan I encouraged my kids to start writing down something they are grateful for each day as part of our advent calendar counting down the days until Eid. Meanwhile, I continued to maintain my own verbal and mental thanks, without supplementing them with the written word. It wasn’t until a sister offered a copy of her gratitude journal and planner for review that I actually sat down and started writing about what I’m thankful for. By the way, her journal is stunningly beautiful and it not only reminds you to be grateful, but gives hints as to the various areas where you might find something to locate your gratitude in. Her illustrations have circulated the world, mostly illegally, by pirated copies being circulated without crediting the author, and for which she obviously didn’t get her dues. So please, if you are looking for a Muslim journal or planner, do stop by her site, and purchase one legally, I’m so sure you’ll like it that I’ll even suggest buying it for your sisters and aunties! FYI, this is NOT a paid advertisement. But I digress.
It’s probably no coincidence that my favorite scholar was lecturing on the importance of gratitude above even repentance and forgiveness. Wait a minute! What did he just say? Gratitude is more important than repentance AND forgiveness!? That was the first time I had ever heard that concept, but as he explained it, it made more and more sense to me. As I posited in a previous post, if you wallow in shame and self-pity you go into survival mode, and loose your progress, you let go of what you have, because you think it isn’t worthwhile keeping. Conversely, gratitude affirms the importance of what you have, despite the negatives, and this strengthens your resolve to go on.
Gratitude is your key to moving on with your life.
Now that I’ve spilled the beans, go ahead and start journaling about what you are grateful for, and observe what direction your life will take on from the moment you start!
Let me know in the comments what you think and how it’s working for you! Next I’ll be reviewing the Gratitude Journal and Muslim’s Planner, so you can get some extra incentives and have your work cut out for you!
Until next time, keep up the good vibes