This morning, I woke up thinking, “How do I make today a good day?”
You know how it goes: some days are really good and some really bad. Some days you wake up feeling you can conquer the world and everything (and I really mean everything) falls into place. Your hair/hijab is perfect, the peak hour traffic doesn’t annoy you, the cute guy/girl you’ve been eyeing smiled at you.. Those kind of things. Then there are some days you wake up feeling like an utter wreck, a guy’s horrible tie or a girl’s perfume drives you nuts, and the person you really don’t like just has to step on your shoes, many times, literally and figuratively.
I had a really good day yesterday, alhamdulillah, and I’d like to figure out if there was anything I did differently yesterday compared to other days that made yesterday good.
Yup, I’m going along the lines of self-determinism this time round – I decide if I have a good day or otherwise.
This is a reminder for me as much as it is a reminder for anyone who is seeking for it. (: It’s one thing to be talking about airy-fairy stuff, it’s another thing to provide some practical action steps to achieve a particular goal. So here are some of the things I feel (based on personal experience) are the foundation of a good day (and a good life).
1) Start it right – give thanks.
Give thanks the moment you wake up. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep or if your head feels like there’s been a rock concert going on in it overnight. Give thanks. Give thanks for having been given another day, another chance to do good, another step forward to be the person you’re meant to be. The idea is simple: give out positive energy to the world the moment you start your day. Like attracts like; when you become a source of good energy, good energy will be attracted to you. If you’re a Muslim, say alhamdulillah. There’s even a dua for waking up!
Alhamdu lillaahil-lathee ‘ahyaanaa ba’da maa ‘amaatanaa wa’ilayhin-nushoor.
Praise is to Allah Who gives us life after He has caused us to die and to Him is the return.
Start your day with the conviction that there is a purpose to it and that it will be good.
2) Feed your soul in the morning.
We eat breakfast in order to feed our bodies after a night of fasting. So many studies have been done to prove the importance of the first meal of the day and the adverse effects of skipping it. Likewise, our souls need to be fed first thing in the morning. It needs to go hand in hand with our physical body to get through the day! So how do we feed our souls in the morning?
As Muslims, we do this first thing by praying Fajr. If you have time, pray the sunnah prayer before Fajr, for even Rasulullah saw was reported saying, “The two Rakaah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.” [Muslim] . Make full use of this one-on-one time with Allah. Strive to have the connection and surrender as a slave.
After doing the fajr prayers, or if you’re not Muslim/cant pray, feed your soul next by listening to it. Do this through keeping still (meditate, do yoga or whatever else) and letting your thoughts run free, then journal it. Your journal is your own private domain – feel free to write whatever. It can be nonsense: doodles, scribbles that don’t make sense or just random thoughts. It can also be serious: your goals for the day, your fears or a reflection of your current state in life. Whatever it is, journal. Let it all out and release the load of your soul. This allows your soul to be light and free enough to bounce through the day.
Once you’ve gotten through the first part, then give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve got a good start! But hey, having a good start doesn’t mean it’ll last through the day right? It’s like drinking water – you’ve got to keep refueling in order to last.
For example, yesterday I had a pretty good start, alhamdulillah. My journal was filled up with random thoughts (not much of a surprise, haha) and I had a good hearty breakfast (with lots of baked beans, om nom nom). But then I sat down to look through my schedule and assignment deadlines and… I started to worry. It’s the second half of the term now which means all the essays and group projects are starting to creep up on me
and dancing their evil dances in front of me. I closed my planner and said the prayer my parents first taught me when I was going through difficulty:
Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altahu sahla, wa ‘anta taj-alul hazna idha shi’ta sahla
O Allaah. There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will.
I highly recommend memorising this dua and constantly using it. It will, inshaAllah, make you at least feel better since hey, you’ve already surrendered your problems to Allah! (:
This brings me to my third point:
3) Make constant dua & conversations with God a habit.
Know your place; accept your reliance on a Higher Power. Yes, we do have the responsibility to craft out our lives but ultimately, Allah is still Master. So do your best then leave everything up to Allah. Keep your prayers on time and have a set of duas in your backpocket that you can conveniently take out whenever necessary. One such dua is the one I’ve shared above. Another kind of dua is just a sincere invocation to Allah, in whatever language you’re accustomed to.
Sometimes the results are immediate, sometimes they’re delayed. Yesterday, after all the fretting, I went to school and received my midterm test results back – a very timely reminder from Allah to appreciate and enjoy my amanah (responsibility) as a student, no matter my circumstances. Sometimes I do forget that I’m a full-time student & a part-time everything else, not the other way round. Needless to say, I was extremely thankful for the motivation to keep pressing on and do what I do best. Truly, Allah is indeed the best provider of ease. (:
4) Wear rose-tinted glasses.
I don’t mean this literally but hey, if you have them and can rock it, by all means! 😛 What I mean by this is choosing to see the good in everything. Whatever happens, know that there is wisdom in it. Smile. Take things easy. Enjoy every moment. Even (and especially when) things go downhill, take things in your stride and see the good in it. If the good isn’t evident immediately, believe that it will be obvious in time to come.
Embrace innocence and have child-like wonder for everything around you. When everyone else is concentrating on the bad things, choose to concentrate on the good stuff.
Yesterday was a blazing hot day and tutorial was conducted on the rooftop of the Physics building which meant climbing up four flights of stairs. But whatever the case, I had the opportunity to do possibly one of the best non-linguistics related activities I’ve ever done in NUS! We needed to take off our shoes which made it extremely uncomfortable to walk on the heated tiles. I was also having a hard time seeing the features on the sun, but the novelty of it made it so fun! I was hyperactive (hence very friendly, haha) so I quickly built rapport with the technicians. At the end of the session, one of the tech guys even changed the eyepiece just for me!
“Come, I increase the magnification for you. This time, 100 times magnified you know! If you say you cannot see still ah, I don’t know what to say. Hahaha.”
I finally got to see stuff on the sun (too cool, mashaAllah!) after the magnification was increased. Dang, I really need to get my eyes checked! But my point is, I could have easily concentrated on the heat, on the discomfort and the fact that I knew no one there but thanks to my rose-tinted glasses, things went really well, alhamdulillah.
Lastly, an important thing to practice to have a good day is:
5) Managing internal dialogue.
We all have the voice inside our head. After choosing to see the good in everything, it’s necessary to manage this little voice. This voice sometimes say things that aren’t beneficial. This voice is the one saying, “You suck. This sucks. I should be doing something else.” So how do we manage it if it’s saying something negative?
For this point, I’ve got to thank my SuperCamp training!
There are 3 ways to manage internal dialouge: Change it, Jam it or Redirect it.
Change it: Change the dialogue from negative to positive by adding words such as “yet” or “until now” then adding positive affirmations. For example, “I always fail…. until now. Henceforth, I will strive to do my best.”
Jam it: Drown the negative things the voice is saying with positive affirmations. Keep reminding yourself that good things are for good people so be good. Know that you are highly competent in facing whatever obstacles that come your way, big or small. Surely, Allah will not test you with something you cannot bear, so have faith. Self-affirmations and positive reminders are beyond powerful.
Redirect it: Focus your attention on what needs to be done, instead of your negative thoughts on it. When you’re focused on the task at hand, it is inevitable for you to move forward. Do whatever it takes to ensure you’re moving forward instead of backwards or remaining static. Take all that negative energy and put it into producing something positive!
Like I said, when you produce positive energy, positive energy will be attracted to you!
One final example from yesterday about giving out positive energy:
I was supposed to meet Kak Amalina, my senior from ANU, who is in town for a conference, after her trip to USS. The plan was for her to text me when she’s done or to meet me at Masjid Temenggong for maghrib prayers. But that didn’t happen because she doesn’t have autoroam. She was still in USS at 7.30pm but couldn’t contact me nor I, her. I waited in the mosque till 7.30ish but since she didn’t appear, I decided to head to Vivo, in hopes I’ll bump into her. Fast forward to 8pm & a few rounds around the place, I still didn’t meet her. Instead of feeling down because I essentially wasted a significant portion of time, I decided to go have a good dinner then head home. I took it as a gift from Allah to allow myself to relax. There has got to be something good about it. I prayed for Allah to let us meet if it was indeed our fate to meet.
In the mrt back, I entered the cabin, turned right instead of my usual left and…. Two cabins ahead, I bumped into her and her friends!!! Really, what were the odds?!
Turned out, she was also looking for me and even went to the mosque at 8plus! We ended up meeting in the MRT! MashaAllah, the greatness and beauty of Allah’s plans! :’) I was soooo happy to get to meet her after 4 years and couldn’t stop giving thanks to Allah for meeting us in the end.
I believe that a good day ultimately means we’ve taken a step forward to becoming the person we’re meant to be. We’ve accepted our human selves a bit more, with all our flaws and strengths. We’ve given something good out to the world, whether directly or indirectly. In our own ways, we’ve made the world a slightly better place to live in. At the end of the day, it’s about going to sleep with a smile on our face, knowing that it was a day well-spent.
May each of us strive consistently to make every simple day a good one! (: