Have you struggled with feeling unsatisfied in life? Do you find yourself focusing more on the negative things around you? When’s the last time you were in a difficult situation and thanked God for the experience?
Focus on The Good
Depression and negativity are such common emotions and can lead to feeling resentment toward God and the people around you. Instead of focusing on misfortune and emptiness, try to concentrate on the good. Your happiness is tied to your good deeds and guidance from God. Make a list of all the blessing in your life. Then, you can begin to spread appreciation where it belongs; to God first, and to anyone who has had a part in each point on your list. As the famous saying goes, a thankful heart is a happy heart. God tells us of the benefit of gratefulness,
”Be grateful and I will give you more.” [Noble Quran 14:7]
You may assume this solely applies to an increase in material possessions, but it also applies to an increase in spiritual awareness. Being grateful has a spiritual component.
God’s View of Gratitude
God encourages us to be grateful, but why? When you recognize the good things God has provided, you will understand He cares for you. This draws you closer to Him which is why being grateful to God is mentioned so often in the Quran.
”…glorify God for that which He guided you to, so that you become grateful.” [Noble Quran 2:185]
No matter what is going on in your life, God wants you to appreciate everything. He does not want you to lose your way because of troublesome events. He encourages you to always see the positive side of any situation.
It’s All About Perspective
Perhaps something you’re experiencing now seems bad or is a challenge for you. However, God is All-Knowing and Most Wise. He knows best what is beneficial. That promotion you’ve been working so hard for may prevent you from having the time to nurture and maintain a relationship with a family member or close friend whose time on Earth is about to be over. You may not have the money to travel to visit friends or family, thus avoiding being in an airplane that crashes. Your company may close its location and open internationally causing you to leave behind family, but you end up meeting your future spouse in your new location.
These are extreme examples of situations that could cause you to become impatient and dissatisfied. Yet ultimately, staying patient and making a point to be thankful is the goal since you are limited in your knowledge of God’s plan for you. God reminds us of this in the Quran:
”…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” [Noble Quran 2:216]
Staying Thankful During Challenges
Challenges and obstacles are unavoidable components to life. But what defines you is how you approach calamities.
For example, Prophet Job was given major challenges in his life after being blessed with wealth, good health and offspring. First, he lost all his wealth. Instead of complaining and turning his back on God in frustration and disappointment, he said
”What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for a while. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills.” He continued worshiping and obeying God and being grateful for the remaining blessings he had.
Next, all his children were killed when their house crashed down. Instead of losing himself to depression and hurt, he said ”God sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator.”
Finally, Job was afflicted with an illness that caused painful sores all over his body. He became so sick his friends and family abandoned him. Even during this time, he never lost patience or faith in God. After several years, Job cried to God asking for His mercy.
”And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, ”Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” [Noble Quran 21:83]
Out of reward for his patience and gratitude during all the trials and hardships Job experienced, God granted him ease and restored his wealth, his health and his children.
”So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of God].” [Noble Quran 21:84]
Take your example of gratitude from Job and be thankful to God during the hard times.
Don’t Forget The Faithful
Not only does God remind you to thank Him, but also to thank His creation. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) says in his hadith,
”Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to God.” [Sahih Tirmidhi]
Without good people around you that remind you of God, you would not be as grateful. Focus on these people, however few they are, and they will drown out the harmful ones. Concentrate on the good things they do for you, their positive qualities and remember everyone is flawed including yourself.
Tips to Become And Remain Grateful
1. Keep a daily journal of the good things that happen to you. It could be as little as petting your neighbor’s cat, or as big as getting a new job. The important thing is you get in the habit of looking for good things, and continually reminding yourself of the many blessings you are gifted with.
2. Surround yourself with positive people. If you find yourself being a Negative Nancy, avoid being around a Debbie Downer. Otherwise, you may adopt her ungrateful and pessimistic viewpoint. Seek friendships and companionship in people who will lift you up and remind you to be content.
3. Train yourself to see the good in every situation, even when it is difficult. For example, if you or a family member is sick, thank God you have access to healthcare, because many people around the world don’t. Also, like prophet Job, thank God for the many years you have been healthy.
God is Great, And You Are Grateful
So remember, keep in mind the things you are thankful for, because they will bring you closer to God. He will continue to guide you towards more things to appreciate, which will increase your good mood.