Not every Muslim can fast from food and drink during Ramadan. Whether you’re exempt due to pregnancy, menstruation, travel, or for medical reasons, most of us will, at some point, experience Ramadan days where it’s business as usual.
But there are so many different ways to make each day spiritually nourishing.
Every Ramadan, whether I am eating or not, I go on a “Negativity Fast.” In doing so, I abstain from complaints and negative thinking. Even for the most optimistic among us, this can be a difficult task. Each day, there are a thousand small annoyances we deal with, let alone the much larger stressors. But, like any habit, positivity must be practiced. What better time to work on this skill than during Ramadan. After all, positivity is gratitude: gratitude to your Creator. Positivity is acceptance: acceptance that whatever befalls you is by your Creator’s decree.
So, this Ramadan:
I won’t be annoyed about washing the dishes, because my family has food to eat.
I won’t sigh when I have to clean the house, because I’ve got a roof over my head.
I won’t get frustrated with the amount of work I have to do, because I have a business that I appreciate.
I won’t get exasperated with my children or my husband, because I’m grateful to have the family I always wanted.
I won’t let the media feed into my fears, because I trust in the plan of Allah.
I won’t speak ill of others, because it’s my duty to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I won’t engage in toxic conversation, because it hurts my mental and spiritual health.
When negative thoughts start to creep in, I will acknowledge them and then do my very best to banish them. I will not fuel them. I will remind myself every day of every single thing I have to be grateful for.
We all have individual negative paths our minds get lured down; different triggers, whether incidences or people. And now, in 2020, we have a collective global anxiety over the changes in our social fabric. In these genuinely difficult times, it can be a challenge to tune out the negative noise and focus on gratitude. We are faced with very real trials to our wealth, our health, and our communities. But, just as we train our bodies to push through the hunger and thirst of long Ramadan days, so can we train our minds to focus on the good in the world, and the everyday mercies showered upon us.
Faith takes work. Cultivating positivity and gratitude in your life will increase your faith. The attention and sacrifice you put into fasting during Ramadan can also be harnessed to shift your perspective and improve your quality of life all year round.
Let us make the absolute most of these Ramadan days, physically, mentally and spiritually. One simple way of practicing gratitude and fulfilling your obligations as a Muslim is to donate to charity. Appreciation for what you have necessarily reminds you that others have less, and this is the best time to help those in need.