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Closing the door on 2016 – 11 things I am grateful for



Sh**! I cannot believe we’re just days, literally DAYS, away from the new year. Can someone tell me where did the time go?! I don’t want it to end. I really don’t. But what can you do? Time is unforgiving. And 2016 was definitely unforgiving – what with all the crappy cards our world has been dealt with. From war, to political unrest, to the election (you know which one), almost everyone can’t wait to get rid of 2016 and start over in 2017.

Ok this blog is beginning to sound rather depressing so I’m going to stop and look at the good. Stop and be grateful for everything – the good, the bad and the in-betweens.

Why is it that gratitude, which should actually come as second nature to us, such a hard concept to grasp? Even if we know it and we say we are grateful, why is it that we tend to forget to be truly grateful sometimes? It can all be summed up in one word - “Entitled”.

This word, this one simple word, came as a shock to the senses during the lecture we attended called Shukr in Action by Ustadh Usama Canon when he visited Singapore recently. (Shukr in Action: Prophetic Attitude of Gratitude by Ustadh Usama Canon, presented by SimplyIslam.sg)

When he mentioned that the one thing that is holding us back from being truly grateful is the feeling of entitlement, I looked over at Hanisah Maskon who was with me and we both gasped. It was like literally an ah-ha moment. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the hearts were open and the minds were blown. Ok ya I sound like I’m exaggerating here but it’s close to what I was feeling at least – you just had to be there to understand. Ok ok I know you weren’t there, so let me try to explain what he meant and I hope I do him justice.

“Entitled” – adjective – believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Are we truly inherently deserving of everything that is given to us in this life? Think about it. The answer is no. Because this life itself is not something we are deserving of either. I know that sounds rather depressing. Like what have I done?! *throw hands in air* Haha. Ok let’s dial it back a little. Did you ask for this life? None of us asked for this life. None of us asked to be born and to be living. So the fact that we are living each day, breathing this air, enjoying the fruits of our labour, is something to be grateful for to begin with. Everything else is a bonus.

I just realized that going down this rabbit hole is going to take the whole day. So I’m going to expand on this topic in another blog post. So stay tuned.

Going back to being grateful, after the talk, Ustadh Canon challenged us to make a list of all the things we are grateful for. His challenge to us was to list everything and anything until we fall asleep. I did and I managed to get to 11 before passing out. So before turning the page to the new year, here’s my list of the 11 things I am grateful for.

This list is in no particular order but I will start with….

1. Life

Oh come on. Do I need to go back to explaining this? Life as a whole is something we should be thankful for. We didn’t ask for it but we have it. And from the moment we were born, we had a whole lifetime to make what we want of it.

2. Good Health

Ok this is definitely something I am thankful for. I rarely get sick. I don’t get the usual cold or flu but when I do get sick, it’s really really bad. I’ve been in the hospital, had an operation, had medical tests done on me, so now that I have a good bill of health, all senses intact and I am not experiencing any major health issues, this is something I am not going to take for granted.

3. Family

How can we not be grateful for family? Yes it’s not always roses but family will always be there when you need them and I am grateful for my multi-racial, multi-religious, crazy family. If you know me by now, you would know that whilst my family is Muslim, half of my external family aren’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are indeed family. They celebrate Eid with me and I, in turn, celebrate Christmas with them (and other religious holidays).

4. Friends

With all the drama that goes on in my work, I am so grateful to have my friends around me. And I don’t mean a big group of friends. I mean a handful of true, genuine, friends. The ones who are always there for you no matter what. The ones who aren’t with you because of what you can bring to their table. The ones who get your idiosyncrasies and think they are cute as a button. When I was younger, I always had a lot of friends. But as I got older, I learnt that the quality of friends is far more important than the quantity of friends.

In a very competitive climate, I am also grateful for a handful of good friends in the business – people who, just like me, believe in collaboration not competition. People like Emy from Moslema in Style, Shuhada from MYRYL, Adam and Maryah from The Halal Food Blog, just to name a few. Work never feels like work when we’re together. Like when Adam got pasta sauce in his eye when we were trying out Pasta Queen the other day. Ya, funny as hell. You gotta see the video on their IG which I managed to capture (another thing I’m grateful for. LOL.).

5. My team

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. With a digital agency and two magazines on my plate, I am thankful my team is around to keep me sane.

6. Our readers and writers

I said this before and I’ll say it again, without you GAYA magazine and Suara Magazine would not be here.

7. Peace

We see war, terror and destruction on tv every day and it is heartbreaking. Being grateful for the peace that we have in this country doesn’t diminish the fact that the opposite is going on in some parts of the world. But that feeling of gratitude in turn gives me empathy and the ability to get involved to do something to help others.

8. My job

As the saying goes, “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. And all my life I have been searching for a job that I would love and here I am today.

9. Freedom

Hmmm…I don’t quite know how to explain this. Some years ago, I was in a place where I didn’t quite have my freedom. My movements were curtailed, my interactions with the people around me were watched. I felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells – afraid to make one wrong move only to end up in a huge argument with my partner. Our relationship ended and I was heartbroken but looking back, that was a blessing.

10. Faith

I’ll be honest, my relationship with God was not always this strong. Then again, that’s human nature isn’t it? In a talk I once attended, the Ustaz said that our iman or faith is like the stock market. One day it’s up and another day it can go down. We’re not perfect. He never made us to be. But the iman or faith is still there. And the fact that He didn’t completely take that away from us (which He can) is something we should be grateful for. And each day, I am thankful for that.

11. Happiness

I met a lady at a Christmas party the other day. We started talking and soon after, she started unloading complaints after complaints on me. From the transport price hike, to a whole confusing situation she faced while shopping one day. Side note, she had won a $500 voucher but the terms and conditions made it so that she couldn’t spend more than $500. It had to be exactly or less than $500. Ok yes, a bit confusing and coming from a Marketer, that’s just silly. But OMG, you won a $500 voucher! Some people don’t even have $5 to feed themselves. I sat there listening but behind my smile I was thinking, “boy, is she an unhappy person”. I could feel that negative vibe exuding from her. In the end I had to excuse myself cos I felt myself being sucked into the whirlpool. Have you watched the movie Inside Out? Did you see how Joy started feeling sad and discouraged after Sadness brought her down?

Just like sadness, happiness is a transferable energy. When you are happy, you will naturally pass that on to the next person you meet through your actions. And that happiness that you transfer to that person will be passed to another through his or her actions. And the cycle continues. Imagine this cycle going on the whole day, whole week, whole month and a whole year. By being happy and sending that happiness over to just one person, we’re making a big difference in someone’s life.

Before we move into 2017, rather than making resolutions which, let’s face it, we will never keep, I challenge you to make a list of things you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be things that have happened in 2016, but generally things that you are truly grateful for. List as many as you can then look back at that list. Trust me, you’re going to feel a happy fuzzy feeling inside. And with that, I wish you a very happy 2017!

Love, Juliana, Editor-in-chief

#newyear #gratitude #islam #muslim #hijab

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