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Attitude of Gratitude: Psychology Behind Shukr

SHE opens her wardrobe. Two dozen dresses of red, yellow, orange, pink and you-name-it colour are hanging in there. After a cursory glance, she bangs the door shut.

“Mom, I have ‘nothing’ to wear for the party. I’ve been begging you to take me shopping for ages. You never listen to me. What do I do now?”

He is rummaging the fridge for the fourth time. Pizza, chocolate, ice cream, fruits and juices are stuffed inside. He leaves the kitchen despondently.

“There’s really nothing much to eat in here. Let’s go to the café and have some decent food today.”

She wakes up with the same feelings of depression and dread. Thoughts of suicide are again floating in her mind. She is married to a handsome man, with two lovely kids, a home, and a car – everything most women would ask for. Life apparently is perfect, but there is “something” missing. It is just because she is not married to the man of her dreams.

He thinks his life sucks. He is seventeen years old. He has an iPhone, Core I-7 Dell, and 1000 bucks monthly pocket money. But according to him, his life sucks. He can’t focus on his textbook. He slams it shut and starts pacing in the room as he thinks out aloud, “If my friend can own a Jaguar, why the hell, can’t I? Everything sucks.”

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

The Ingratitude Habit

As we grow up, we get tuned to be unthankful and not see the blessings in our life. We focus all our energy and attention towards finding out the stuff that is lacking in our lives. This is really ironic, because the more we focus on scarcity the more we tend to attract it.

Western Research vs 1400-year-old Message

Research has proven that through our thoughts and emotions, we emit powerful signals; these signals have the ability to attract signals of the same frequency. In other words, whenever you are being ungrateful or thinking negative and self-defeating things (“I never seem to have enough of money” or “I can never be healthy” or “ I can never find a practicing husband”) or worrying about issues beyond your control, you are actually emitting energies that will attract similar energies. Ultimately, you will end up becoming a black hole of despair. All the worries, arguments and frustration lead to more of the same.

If you want to attract more signals of what you desire to experience (like peace, joy, harmony, ease, and prosperity), then why not choose your thoughts consciously and carefully?

Today non-Muslim researchers have discovered these secrets in the name of Natural Laws, while these “open secrets” were given to us in the Quran 1400 years ago. Psychologists and philosophers have painstakingly conducted studies and have come up with new theories and ideas. But this “newly discovered” stuff was presented to us in the Quran in no uncertain terms.

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” [Qur’an reference]

The following are some findings of a long-term study on the effects of gratitude by Robert A. Emmons from the University of California Davis and Micheal E. McCullogh from the University of Miami:

* In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.

* Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

* Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.

This is a readymade formula for attracting more of what you want in life.

Does it make sense why gratitude is such a key ingredient in a successful life? Gratitude basically helps you make the shift. Consequently, you are able to attract more good, more love, more joy, more money, more health and blissful relationships in your life. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most frequently used methods to alter the signals one is emitting. What we need to master is the attitude of gratitude, the attitude of appreciating everything in life.

Surah Fatiha: A Pillar’s Pillar

It is well-known that prayer, the important pillar of Islam, is incomplete without Surah Fatihah. Surah Fatihah begins with expressing our gratitude to our Lord for the countless blessings He has showered upon us. Have you ever noticed that a lot of du’as taught by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also start with the same expression of gratitude – Alhamdulillah. Our day starts with the supplication Alhmdulillahilazi Ahyana… (All praise and thanks be to Allah who gave us life…)

What is the significance of this? Allah SWT wants you to start your day in a super-charged state, attracting ample happiness and abundance in life.
The meal ends with the supplication Alhmdulillahizi at’amana wa sakana… (All praise and thanks be to Allah who gave us food and drink…) Why? Because He always wants you to have better food every time you eat. The same expression – Alhamdulillah. Can’t be a coincidence, can it?

Getting Back on Track

Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to regain our focus. When we are stuck, it means we are giving too much attention to something that doesn’t really deserve it.

Most so-called problems are usually mundane pre-occupations and mental obsessions. We focus so much on one area to the exclusion of everything else that we create and then magnify our problems.

Guess what? When we focus so much on what’s not working, we can’t even access the part of our brain that provides us solutions. Surprised? Yeh!

So, when something is not working, focus on what is working and say Alhamdulillahi rabbil alameen aloud. What do you think you are doing by saying this? You are freeing your mind from those thoughts that bog you down, and you are reinforcing strong, positive beliefs that even if some areas are not working in life, others definitely are. In this way, you are able to think in a quicker and better way to resolve what is not working in life. Try it out yourself.

Gratitude – The Practice of Companions

It is reported that some of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to be grateful even for the calamities they faced and presented their gratitude to Allah for not letting something worse befall them. Now that is the attitude of gratitude!

A Miraculous Phenomenon

Being grateful to Allah SWT does wonders. When you’ll acknowledge His Hand in your life, miracles will happen. You’ll be in the middle of a problem and would not have the least bit of knowledge about what would happen next, and suddenly the solution will dawn upon you. It’s like someone returning you an old loan that you had completely forgotten about when you were in dire need of money. It’s like when you are thinking about your loved ones and they give you a call right then. It’s like when you are longing for something to happen and it happens. Be very grateful to The One who made it happen.

We usually need a BIG reason to be grateful because we ignore the many things that are already available to us. Our family, friends, body, health, job, leisure time, education, food, wisdom, smiles, children, even the painful lessons that life teaches us, and the list goes on are HUGE blessings to be grateful for. If you don’t have the same feeling, just close your eyes and imagine one of these blessings vanishing from your life. How does that feel? This is EXACTLY the reason why you need to be thankful for every moment in every day.

It’s a pity that from childhood we are tuned to lust for more and never be satisfied with what we already have. It is exactly for this reason that being grateful to Allah SWT for what He has already blessed us with is sometimes very challenging for us. All of us need a bit of fine-tuning.

Let me share with you some tips on how you can be grateful to Allah and see the blessings unfold in your life:

1- Make a list of twenty things you appreciate right NOW. Write ALHAMDULILLAH in front of every blessing. Make a list of the things you feel good about and note down why you are grateful for that thing, situation or person in your life.
How did you feel doing this? Here’s the good news: you just increased your positive emissions and now you are actually able to attract more happiness, abundance and prosperity in your life, Insha Allah.

2- Start looking for EVERYTHING you can be grateful for in life and start talking about it all the time no matter how insignificant it is. If you find a buck from your old shirt’s pocket, celebrate. Tell everyone how grateful you are for that. That’s how you are actually tuning your mind to show gratitude for the tiniest blessing in your life.

3- At least once a day, share GRATITUDE status on Facebook and Twitter (or whatever social media you use) and ask others what they are grateful for. Insha Allah, you’ll get reward for your SHUKR and theirs too.

4- Try to seek the positive out of every negative. Take out at least three good lessons from every painful experience and be grateful that life threw that situation at you so you could learn.

In a nutshell, developing the attitude of gratitude to Allah SWT will do wonders in your life. Identify those wonders and be grateful for them so you can have more.

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