Build resilience by leaving something behind

Learn how giving up something and developing healthy habits can help you build resilience.


Leaving something behind is part of Ramadan for many Muslim Australians. 

And it’s something that doesn’t have to end once the Holy Month is over. 

What it’s like to leave something behind 

Most of us could probably make it a month without chocolate, PlayStation or Netflix (just). 

But without music – that takes some serious resilience. 

So you have to hand it to Bassel, a designer from southern Sydney, who went the entire month of Ramadan without listening to a single song. 

In previous years, Bassel just gave up specific genres during the Holy Month. But this is the first month he’s gone cold turkey on music in general. 

“I normally listen to music but found that I’d become less interested in it during 2021. So I decided to give it up for the Holy Month, to simplify my habits and see how I’d feel,” he says.

Building resilience and mental strength 

Bassel says he soon realised that giving up listening to music would be easier than he thought. 

“It helped simplify my everyday routine. I felt like it clarified what I was doing, and my habits and goals,” he says. 

“I often used music as background noise, to accompany me while doing tasks. Stopping this made me a lot more focused and gave me mental clarity. Instead of having something that sounded nice in the background, I could focus on what was in front of me without distractions. It was like removing something annoying from your workspace.”

There were other benefits that came with this too. 

“On a deeper level, it also increased my spiritual connection,” Bassel says. 

“I felt more focused on faith, and like I had elevated myself out of an everyday habit and into a more important and attuned way of being and thinking.”

Why building resilience is so important 

The resilience it takes to last a month without music is the same resilience you need when life throws a curveball your way. 

Think of resilience as your own personal health bar – like you’d see in a video game. 

Something challenging or complex can test your resilience. 

But if you’ve built up enough of a reserve, you should be able to get through it. 

The key is simple. Just like with a video game health bar, the more resilience you have, the better placed you are to take these challenges on. 

American psychologist Suzanne Kobasa, who has done extensive work on resilience, says resilient people possess three key traits:

  • A resilient person faces challenges head on – Difficult situations and setbacks are designed to do exactly that – set us back. Resilient people approach these situations with an open mind, turning them into an opportunity for growth. 
  • A resilient person is committed – It’s all about following through. Whether it’s in studies, personal relationships or work, a resilient person will meet their commitments and won’t give up when faced with adversity. 
  • A resilient person has perspective – At the end of the day there’s no point worrying over the things we can’t control. A resilient person accepts this, instead focusing time and energy on situations that they can influence. 

You’re already more resilient than you might realise 

So, you want to start building resilience but you don’t know where to begin?

Now is a great time to start.  

If you left something behind for Ramadan like swearing, video games, or even something as simple as chewing gum, see how long you can go without it now that the Holy Month is over. 

Even if you didn’t give something up, don’t stress. 

Anyone who fasted during Ramadan has already exhibited great resilience. 

As Bassel explains, the benefits are big. 

“I’ll admit that when Ramadan ended I did listen to some music, as a reward for getting through the month without it,” he says.  

“But I found that I didn’t need it as much anymore. It didn’t feel important or necessary, because I’d treated it that way for the whole month. I now feel somewhat mentally ‘cleaner,’ since the background hum of music is not something I need. Also, my spiritual connection has endured, which feels great.”

Resilience is like going to the gym to work out.  

Self-discipline and mental strength are things you can build up – just like muscle. 

And when you have resilience, you’re prepared to deal with any challenge.

Did you give something up for Ramadan? Are you choosing to leave it behind now that Ramadan is over? We want to hear your story.