Ramallah—As part of the “Youth Led Action” project, REFORM’s Cultural Café organised a discussion session entitled: “Crafting Your Life for Fulfillment and Satisfaction.” They explored the key ideas and tools one may use at various life stages. They also delved into effective ways of addressing personal life challenges and making decisions. The session began by asking participants about their lives and whether they feel in control, shaping them according to their personal vision. This exercise encouraged them to reflect on their daily routines, how they allocate their time and whether their lifestyles appear chaotic or organised.

Subsequently, they engaged in a discussion about the significance of creating a well-structured life that fosters self-acceptance, satisfaction and positive impacts across various aspects, including social, psychological, mental, physical and professional dimensions. They addressed self-awareness and understanding one's current situation and how individuals can use these tools to analyse and address problems. During this discussion, participants varied in their approaches to problem-solving. Some preferred direct confrontation and immediate reactions, while others focused on understanding problems before finding solutions. Some mentioned avoiding problems, hoping they would resolve on their own.

In our discussion, we presented various factors that help participants gain self-awareness and set their life direction, like a compass. Many participants expressed the need for solitude to better understand themselves, their desires and thoughts. However, daily responsibilities often limit their opportunities for solitude. Some emphasised the importance of work in their personal growth, aiming for psychological, financial and professional stability. There were also participants who felt the need to socialise and build new relationships, while others stressed the significance of self-care and personal development as a daily priority.

Laila Taher highlighted a contrast between the structured thinking of an engineering mindset and the adaptable human mind. She explained that engineering thinking is very strict and does not allow for mistakes or deviations because the consequences can be significant, which is not always practical in our daily lives. Therefore, individuals should strive to be more flexible and self-aware, understanding both themselves and their surroundings.

Wajdi sees life as a game he can shape according to his desires, much like building with Lego bricks. He believes that people are decision-makers, regardless of their circumstances, and this autonomy leads to unique perspectives, thoughts and life priorities amongst individuals.

We used visualisation as a tool to map out our future plans. Participants shared their thoughts about their future lives by creating mental images. Mahmoud Abu Awad explained that his future vision depends on his current efforts, progress in tasks, priorities, his perspective on things and understanding of the direction he's heading and his needs.

We discussed the decisions people make, whether consciously or subconsciously, and asked participants about the worst decision they made in the past year and why they considered it a bad decision. Participants emphasised that assessing decisions should not solely depend on their outcomes. Instead, it should consider factors like the person's knowledge at the time, the time spent making the decision, external influences and distinguishing between reversible and irreversible decisions. They stressed that decisions should not bear excessive costs in terms of time, psychology, mental well-being, or resources.

In summary, participants discussed finding contentment and aligning one's lifestyle with personal values. They concluded that happiness varies from person to person, and life is a customisable journey, not a predefined path. Personal values are the foundation of life's design. Participants also acknowledged that solitude can aid self-discovery, and designing one's life is an ongoing process without a one-size-fits-all model. They unanimously stressed the significance of setting life priorities and maintaining focus on self-understanding while avoiding mental distractions, which hinder life design.

The Cultural Café aims to provide youth in Palestinian refugee camps with discussion sessions and cultural activities in order to develop their skills and abilities in analysis and critical thinking, which helps them have a deeper understanding of the social and political issues that affect their lives and their society.

REFORM's Cultural Café comes within the "Youth Led Action" project, implemented by REFORM in partnership with (PART II) Programme-GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).