Ramadan is pretty much the (month-long) Arab world’s equivalent of New Year’s Eve (I didn’t say Muslim world because I can only speak for the Arab-Muslim community); in that I mean: we make resolutions, we make promises, we try to stick to them, and then we try to stick to them some more long after the Holy Month is over.
Harmlessly humorous as reality may be, it says a lot about our self-discipline and, well, the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve.
*yes, I did just make that a serious thing* Keep reading!
Most common Ramadan resolutions, in life:
- I will eat better
- I will exercise more
- I will cut down on dessert
- I will watch less TV/screen time
- I will do more good
- I will strengthen relationships
- etc., etc., etc.
Now you might be thinking: Yeah, Dunia, these are all great things. What’s your point?
My point is as everyone else’s at this time of the year: Why now? And will it stick?
The other hilarious fact: Ramadan is the most difficult month to keep these resolutions. Not because you’re fasting and too hungry to do good, but because the culture surrounding the month makes it practically impossible. Let’s revisit the list:
- I will eat better | unhealthier foods are usually more available and easier to find, even at home, not to mention over-eating
- I will exercise more | you’ll either be too hungry or too tired before Iftar, and social life will take over afterwards
- I will cut down on dessert | yeah right. people gather around dessert for hours on end after Iftar, it’s the “culture”, nice try.
- I will watch less TV/screen time | the whole month practically revolves around any screen (and advertisers know it).
- I will do more good | you probably will, at least at home
- I will strengthen relationships | this is a guarantee if you can keep up with the social demands of the nights
- etc., etc., etc.
Why so cynical thought, right? I mean, we try our best.
My point here isn’t to discourage you from making resolutions, but to either stick to them or make more realistic ones, to avoid the dreaded guilt that goes against the month’s message.
And as usual, here’s how I think that can be done best:
1- If you’re taking time to make a resolution list (even a mental one), ask yourself this: Is this something I can commit to in everyday life? And how?
2- What’s your motive? If it’s to score good religious/spiritual points during the Holy Month, that’s fine. But if it’s for overall growth and developing better habits too, make a note of that.
3- Pick a few! Don’t overwhelm yourself for the next 30 days. Chances are you’ll quit halfway because you’re discouraged or drop the whole idea because you’re distracted. Choose the most important 2 or 3 from your list and stick to those first. Once you’ve mastered them and they’ve become part of your routine, move on to the next.
4- Is this the life you want? Ramadan, in essence, brings with it the spirit of patience and good (to name a few) and we all get swept away with the romance of it all. So ask yourself: are these things you want in your life? The answer doesn’t have to be yes! Some people are very happy being impatient and short-tempered! Other people are happy enough to do charity once a year, at max. Think of what YOU want, what good habits YOU want to develop, and that should be motivation enough to keep going.
Curious about my resolutions? Here they are:
- Be kind (from the soul)
- Read more
- Talk less
- Drink a lot, a lot, a lot of water.
What are you planning to do this Ramadan? Share your plans in the comments below!
and Ramadan Kareem to us all.
P.S. career Ramadan resolutions coming next!