This entry will be a bit different. It is perhaps – well, probably – slightly cheesy. But a bit of ‘cheesy’ is not necessarily a bad thing; I think cheese in moderation, much like a creamy slice of Havarti, can often add some much-needed satisfaction to a daily routine of unsalted crackers.
I have been thinking lately about what brings me fulfilment in life, and I discovered that the key components of my general satisfaction and happiness at this moment in time could be summed up in five words, all of which start with the letter F. So below I outline a list of my FIVE Fs (+1) for FULFILMENT as I see them unfold in my daily life.
Faith comes first for me because discovering and uncovering my intimate bond with God has been the greatest gift of my life, and sustaining this bond is my biggest priority. The imam at the mosque I attend for Friday prayer said last week that one’s faith is embodied in one’s patience and gratefulness. It is seeing the blessing in everything and treating all of God’s creations with compassion and tolerance. That is what living as a Muslim, which translates from Arabic as “one who submits” to the Almighty, has helped me discover in the purest sense. Regular prayer, regular charity, fasting, righteous deeds, patience, perseverance and honesty are all essential components of faith.
In the past two years since I started nurturing this bond with God, or Allah in Arabic, I’ve faced some difficult times. I’ve lost a parent, endured a relationship breakup, been laid off of a job, to name a few. My faith has given me the patience to work through life’s ups and downs, and I’ve never been happier than I have been in the past two years. I strive each day to be grateful and for the blessings in my life, and to be patient and thankful for all of the trials I face. Yasmin Mogahed, a superbly talented writer on Islamic spirituality, recently sent a tweet that encapsulates this bond within the 140-character limit. She tweeted: “To be most successful: when you're with the Creator, be with the Creator, and when you're with the creation, also be with the Creator.”
Faith comes first in my discovery of fulfilment each day because it is the common thread weaving together all of the other components.
Family has always been important to me. But until my father passed away almost two years ago, I didn’t realise in the deepest sense how important it is to constantly nurture my bond with those who are closest to me. One of the greatest consequences of uncovering my faith was discovering the honour that comes with treating ones parents with compassion and care. This has led me to strengthen and deepen my bond with my mom. Being close to family, taking care of them, knowing they are healthy and happy brings me great fulfilment. In a world where very little is consistent and people are leaving our lives as quickly as they entered them, our closest, dearest family members can form the rock on which we stand; this rock is always firm and helps us hold ourselves straight and tall.
I have a sister who is many years younger than I am. During her teens in Canada, I was away a good deal of time pursuing a journalism career in Egypt and then Dubai. This gave us very little chance to bond during her formative years and I could sense the void whenever we were together. Almost three years ago, that changed. She came to live with me and found a job in the same city, and in the time since we formed that bond I had missed out on earlier. Her presence transformed my cold, indifferent world away from home into a place that was quite suddenly full of closeness and meaning. I started to see my surroundings differently and the soul-less city began to feel more like a soulful home than just a place I was working. There are few greater blessings than developing and treasuring one’s bond with parents and siblings.
I’m not talking here about acquaintances. I’m talking about true, sincere, genuine friends – who, in my experience, are very rare to find. I wrote an entry several months back about finding rare,special friends. My words were inspired by my dearest friends, who showed me the potential for a great friend to become part of the fabric of one’s life. As a child, my family moved from one city in North America to another, so over the years my closest friend was always my elder sister. It wasn’t until recent years that I discovered that someone outside of my family network could take such an important place in my heart and my life.
I’m very blessed to have such friends. My loyalties to those who have entered my heart are immense and boundless. Even if we may be separated by physical distance, I expect these bonds are ones I will make every effort to keep alive in the years to come.
I’ve never been consistent with fitness. At times I am have been very active, going to the gym or swimming five times a week, taking the stairs and walking rather than driving whenever possible. Other times I relax my expectations and it can be challenging to coax myself to get into the pool or onto the treadmill. It is during the former rather than the latter periods that I am most-energised and positive and, well, fulfilled.
When my routine includes a good balance of exercise, as it does now, my mood is better, my body feels healthy and I sense a glow in my skin. I feel more confident, beautiful and fresh.
|My mom's home-made falafel and pita bread|
Fitness is also very important because, well, I’m a foodie. I love a good meal (followed or preceded by a yummy dessert) and I especially adore sharing a good meal with someone dear. The adventure of exploring different flavours and spices of various cuisines from around the world has really inspired my life in recent years. Discovering restaurants that are hidden gems, where the food is wholesome, delicious and thoughtful, and the ambiance is unique, is a treat – especially when I share dishes with close friends and family.
As much as I love food, I don’t eat out a lot. Cooking and baking at home is healthier over all and I find both very therapeutic. That is, when I find time amid my hectic work schedule to do it. The times in my life when I’m able to find cook in the evening after work, or bake a cake for friends or colleagues on the weekend, are also the times when I feel most happy.
So there you have it, my FIVE Fs to FULFILMENT.
Well, I’m not quite finished. I have to cheat and add No. 6 – because some of what brings me the greatest happiness in my life wouldn’t be possible without, well..FINANCE.
On my blog, I write about faith, and how I incorporate and discover it in my daily life. In my job, I write about finance. Working as a financial journalist and editor means that finance is literally my livelihood. It helps me take care of my family and rely on myself. And importantly, it enables me fulfil a very crucial aspect of my faith, which is giving charity regularly. Sharing the wealth one accumulates is exceptionally fulfilling and the more I delve into this area, the greater contentment I discover.
So there you go. Somehow along the way, I discovered how to be fulfilled by identifying the blessings in my life now rather than striving for some vague concept of how I would attain fulfilment in the future by, for instance, getting married and having children, buying a big apartment or a nicer car, losing 10 pounds, getting a promotion, travelling here or there, writing a book, etc.
Some of these things may very well be around the corner. But fulfilment is, I discover more each day, already here.