Reflections

3 Simple Ways To Cultivate Joy And Gratitude

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

A couple of days ago, I was sorting my room and getting rid of clutter. I was about to throw a jar with paper into the bin pile when I decided to check what was inside. To my surprise, the jar had index cards with different messages and comments from myrihla readers at the beginning of this journey.

If you’re familiar with Gary Chapman’s ‘Five Love Languages’, you’ll know about words of affirmation which is one of my primary love languages. At that point in time, I kept a note of people’s messages and feedback because it was the most precious thing for me to know that people were reading my blog and it was making a difference in their lives.

I haven’t been blogging frequently – in part because I’m struggling to define what I want this blog to be and doubts about my ability to articulate myself through writing – but what a joy it was to be reminded about the communal space this blog fostered and the joy it brought me to be able to connect with people through writing.

Regardless of whether your love language is words of affirmations or not, I’m encouraging you to keep stock of the positive feedback and compliments you receive from people. Whether it’s about your character, sense of humour, achievements, fashion sense, whatever it may be, find a way to document it. It’ll be handy for moments when you might be experiencing a rough patch and need a little boost. It’s safe to say if I didn’t write those messages down, the memories I attached to them would have been lost forever.

Standing there in that moment, reflecting on those messages, the first thought that came to mind was:

“And your Lord is not unaware.”

It’s possible that you may think of Allah’s attribute as the All-Seeing and All-Knowing in terms of His awareness of sins and transgressions but what about the good that you do? And the small moments that your memory may have erased?

About a day later, my fan blew a few things off my cork board. In rearranging the board, I saw a wish list I wrote 4 – 5 years ago when I was in my second year of uni. Let me tell you the smile seeing this list brought to my face! There were so many things I had on the list, things I wanted to own, experiences I wanted to have, and things I wanted to do with no idea of how it would happen but Subhan’Allah, Allah fulfilled so many of them in the best way possible.

If there’s one thing finding my affirmations jar and wishlist has reinforced, it’s to hold onto the awareness of Allah’s intimate knowledge of me, the things I yearn for, the things that make me smile or bring me joy, or the good I may have engaged in.

I may not always remember but my Lord is not unaware. Allah has intimate knowledge of me even when I forget.

Tip number two for cultivating joy and gratitude is to keep a dua/ wish list. Your Lord is not unaware of the things that you are seeking Him for. Create that dua list. Ask him. And remember to reflect on the things He has already given you and the ways He continues to sustain and protect You.

Take note of the subtle and gentle ways Al-Lateef pulls you closer.

Take note of the ways Al-Mujeeb responds to your duas with His ultimate wisdom and love.

Take note of the way Al-Razzaq gives you provision through the people He has surrounded you with.

Start documenting and reflecting.

Which leads to my last tip – journaling! One thing I’ve noticed is that whenever I bullet journal and do my highlight reels section, I feel emotionally and mentally better. Having it incorporated into daily planning allows me to acknowledge the great things about my day. A lovely conversation, a video that I watched, food that I enjoyed, a podcast I listened to, what someone said to make me laugh – whatever it may be- the act of writing it makes a huge difference.

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You can read more about bullet journaling here.

After going through a challenging few months, I’ve returned to daily journaling beyond my bullet journal.

The impact of it is best summarised in this quote from Gal-Dem’s book, “I will not be erased”,

“Writing in a diary is strength: this type of strength reinforces you, and sends you back out into the world with fresh energy and new ideas.”

Gal-Dem

Journaling has worked for me for so many years that I stand by it as a practice to cultivate joy and gratitude.

If you don’t enjoy writing, I encourage you to try audio journaling or spend some time during the year curating a photo album with your memories.

Have things in place that allow you to see the blessings and the beauty in your life. Finding joy in our lives is possible, we just have to pay more attention.

So Remember Me, and I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and be not ungrateful to Me.

Quran 2:152

I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

3 comments

  1. I appreciated this post a lot! When it comes to blogging, I feel the same way as you do – but I am glad to know you’re sticking with it, because after reading this post I’m inspired to blog again, too! Whenever I start comparing my life to others, I force myself to think of all the blessings I take for granted. It really helps because you realize a) it’s what inside that counts b) Allah (swt) grants to whom He wills for a reason and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to figure it out, so it’s just best to accept it c) nothing you “own” is because of your efforts. Sure, you may have worked for it… but if God did not will it for you, it would not have happened. It’s not easy to have this kind of mindset, but your post and reflection is a reinforcement 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alhamdulilah! Your words of wisdom are beautiful! Especially the point that Allah swt grants to whom He wills (I always think Maryam and Yahya’s story) and forcing ourselves to reflect on His blessings. May He continue to make us content with His decree and grant us the best in this world and the next Ameen xx

      Liked by 1 person

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