04 January 2012
I’m not the type of person who likes to make new years resolutions. I think it’s because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. Changing your habits drastically is too difficult so it’s no wonder most people end up giving up.
Before you dismiss me as pessimistic and depressing, let me just tell you that I am one of the biggest advocates for internal change. I want to be a therapist, so of course I believe in change- if it’s one step at a time.
Here are a few small daily tips, pick a few and work on those first- that I think will make your day much brighter and much more productive.
1. PRAY ON TIME. And that includes Fajr too! Fajr brightens your entire day and makes you feel safe and secure.
2. Sunnah prayers. If you never pray sunnah, add some on to one prayer and after your perfect that, add it on to another prayer. Don’t let the shaytan fool you into missing it just because “you don’t have to do it”. Imagine all the good deeds you’re missing out on!
3. Make a time for duaa each day. For me, I have a set of duaas for the morning and evening. If this is too much, start off with just five minutes before you sleep. It's important to set aside a time where we literally connect with God and say whatever you want to him. I like to do this in the car; on the way to school and on the way back home from the gym. It’s relaxing and a big stress reliever.
4. Read a bit of the Quran every day. Is your copy dusty on the shelf, untouched since Ramadan? Make a habit to read just a little bit every day, even if it is one page. Also, don’t just read it; understand it. Buy an English version (I have tafsir ibn kathir in English and I love it, but since it is a bit pricey, I also love “English translation of the meaning of Al-Quran” by Malik. It is a super easy read).
5. Create a praylist. I actually got this idea from a Suhaib Webb article. It’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of. I organized my praylist by the following categories: Worship, family, friends, community, wisdom, health, and the hereafter. Don’t forget to pray for the Prophets and their companions at the end. Include WHATEVER you want in yours. Remember, God is the most forgiving; so don’t feel too guilty to face him. That’s just the Shaytan talking to you.
Happiness and productivity
6. When you wake up, make yourself smile. It may seem silly, but it will start off your day so much happier. You’re brain releases serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter, when you smile. Do it often.
7. Develop a hobby. Something totally unrelated to your major or what you want your career to be in. It doesn’t matter how much experience you already have in the hobby. Suggestions include playing an instrument, knitting, crafts, makeup, or writing. Be creative.
8. Focus on the present. The past that haunts you is over. The future will unravel itself. Absorb yourself in the present and you will be surprised at how much happier you’ll be.
9. Read books. Oh my God, just read books. No explanation necessary.
10. Stop thinking negative thoughts. When you think a negative thought, distract yourself by doing something else. Negative thoughts are unproductive and don’t help you whatsoever.
11. As related to the above, stop thinking “what if”. The Prophet (s) himself advised against this. You don’t know what would happen if you did something else, and you surely don’t know what might happen in the future. It’s unhelpful and will just depress you.
12. Help others. This will make others like you, make you feel better about yourself, and we need more people like you. Why not?
13. Forgive and forget. Holding grudges is stressful. You make mistakes as well, so why not have mercy on other people that do?
14. Keep a journal. It’s a great outlet for everything you feel that day and helps you control your thoughts and emotions. Plus its fun to go back and read the things that used to be so important to you.
15. Record ideas. Sometimes when I have an idea I don’t write it down, and I forget it. Something awesome is definitely lost when you don’t record it.
16. Write down things that you are grateful for every day, and thank God for them. Don’t repeat them. (I still have yet to do this one).
17. STOP comparing yourself to other people. Everyone has their positives and negatives, so why are we blind to our own positives and focus on other’s positives?
18. Take all your bad habits and create a plan to slowly get rid of them. Do you put yourself down a lot? Pinch yourself when a negative thought comes up. Do you have anger problems? Take a breath and count to three when you feel an anger fit coming through. You get the idea.
19. Exercise. I don’t care how skinny you are, exercise releases endorphins and makes you an overall happier person. Even if its just three times a week, or just a walk. The small things count.
20. Eat breakfast. I used to be the type of person who skips breakfast, until I realized how good breakfast is for you. You burn around 300 more calories a day eating breakfast because it revs up your metabolism and gives you more energy to move around all day. Plus it prevents you from overeating later in the day from starvation.
21. Drink lots of water. I was always the soda girl, and now that I’ve stopped, my body is definitely thanking me. It'll seem tasteless at first, but soon enough you'll get addicted to it.
22. Eat a low calorie meal every two to three hours. It keeps your metabolism going and gives you huge amounts of energy.
If you don't do much of this list, I strongly advise you to take it one step at a time. If you try to do it all at once, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Good luck and salam! :)