x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Every new year presents an opportunity to rewrite your life

Whatever 2014 has in store for you, make every moment of it count.

An old Arab proverb tells us to “write the bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”.

I find myself repeating this proverb as a reminder to do just that at the end of each year: erase the bad experiences with a dismissive wave of the hand, and smile and hold on tight to the good ones.

It has really worked for me to write down the worst moments, whether on a piece of paper or even in the sand at the beach, and then rip the list apart or clear those events away by running my hand over the sand. It does work, try it. Things don’t seem so bad once you articulate them and write them down.

It is the time of year when everyone is in a reflective mood. People have posted their new year resolutions, their best wishes and their regrets on various social media platforms. Many of them admitted they have made more time for Facebook and Twitter last year than they have for actual people in their lives. They may not notice it now, but one day they will regret this as their relationships suffer or their loved ones just give up.

It is then not surprising that I have noticed many people mention that they want to spend more time and reconnect with their family and loved ones as a priority in 2014. We tend to take for granted those who are always there for us.

Sometimes I wonder why we waste so much of our time trying to please unworthy people and to fix relationships that, honestly, are undeserving. We get distracted by new people in our life, and that is normal, but we should never forget those who have been there with us and for us from the start. I owe such a big thank you to so many people, especially those friends from my childhood. You know who you are and I thank you again for always believing in me.

There was a lot of illness in my family last year, but after a lot of push and perseverance, those who were affected won and have become even stronger as a consequence. We have been lucky, Alhamdulillah.

Losses and gains are part of life and, each year, we have both.

“It can always be worse, and there is always someone worse off,” is what one of my teachers used to tell us. And she was right; just when I think it can’t get any worse, life slaps me again and reminds me to be grateful for what I have or had.

It is OK to say “I am tired, I am weak today, I need help” and to ask for support. And when someone in your life needs that shoulder or that hand, you should be there for them.

Last year, around this time, I decided to smile more, to be less selfish and judgemental, and to realise that sometimes you can try to love without expecting anything back. It is a hard, bumpy ride – especially if you are not appreciated or stressed out from work – but in the end, it is best to go to bed with a light and more forgiving heart.

I used to roll my eyes whenever someone would “preach” to me about positive energy, being good and treating people as you like to be treated. But as sappy as it all sounds, it has been true. OK, it doesn’t always work, but you can pray and hope for a miracle, as they sometimes do happen.

Dates and years are just numbers, and what does time really mean at the end of the day? I stopped wearing a watch many years ago, when it was stolen in Rome, and honestly, unless I am working and running to meetings, I never look at the time.

It feels like I have had more time since I stopped worrying about it. Sure, we all get older, there is that extra wrinkle there, you have gained and lost weight so many times over the year, you have broken up with some friends, made new friends, and the list goes on. It is the same for everyone, with some having a better or worse time than others.

Whatever the new year brings – be it an end to the conflict in Syria, a solution to the global unemployment crisis or better distribution of food, ending wastage and starvation – let 2014 be the year when we all aim higher. Make it count for yourself and for others.

rghazal@thenational.ae

Twitter: @Arabianmau