I know how it feels like to be a passive grateful person. You know the drill- you have everything you need and want and yet you just don’t feel so grateful. You feel like you’re entitled to your blessings and start expecting it instead of appreciating it. You are aware that you should feel thankful but you just can’t seem get a grip on it. You manage to retort an alhamdulillah when someone asks you how you’re doing but the contentment is eluding you. You’re not griping but you’re not expressing gratitude either. you’re baffled by the presence of dissatisfaction on your subconscious mind and you want out from the negativity of discontentment.
I can tell you it’s quite the dilemma. It’s so frustrating to wait to for the feeling of gratitude. But the truth is it works the opposite way- act like you’re grateful and the feeling of gratitude will ensue inshaAllah-
Distance yourself from shaitan-
This is the simplest yet the most challenging action to do. Most of your discontentment would dissipate if you’d remember to seek refuge in Allah(swt). Remind yourself to dhikr audhu biallahi minash shaitanir rajeem as soon as you start feeling unhappy about certain situations. Do it immediately when you remember, no matter how bitter your feel. Turn discontentment into a cue to seek Allah(swt) to find your way to gratitude.
Change your Mindset-
Understand that being grateful is an action. You must act grateful to be grateful. Make a decision to have an attitude of gratitude, irrespective of what life throws at you. This habit takes efforts and practice. But once you’d decided to be grateful, your brains starts to act accordingly. Come up with a plan, like anytime you feel like complaining about something, come up with 3 positive things about that particular thing that didn’t occur to your before. Or just think about 3 random things that you appreciate in your life right now. Distract yourself with a positive thought to get you out of the negative mojo.
Know that being grateful does not depend on your feelings or life circumstances. If you associate desirable events with gratitude then you are allowing your life events to control your life. Your grateful feelings will be gone as soon as somethings undesirable occurs in your life. You will always be at the mercy of your feelings and life events. You will be waiting for certain things or feelings to happen so you can be grateful as opposed to taking control of your own happiness and make things happen for you. So consider yourself a grateful person and don’t wait for your feelings or desirable things to be content. Tell yourself that even though this happened to me, I choose to be thankful anyways.
Look for positive things-
You know how they say every cloud has a silver lining. It’s actually works and beats the negativity every time. At the end of the day, you have two choices when life throws a curve-ball at you. You can get caught up in the negativity, worry and other unproductive things that get you no where. Or, you can start looking for the silver linings that takes you a little closer to your goal of living a happier life.Try it, look for the good as soon as something unexpected happens to you. It works like a charm and you brain gets hooked on to the positive vibe.
For example, my fridge and computer both broke recently and while I waited patiently for them to be replaced and repaired, I started thinking immediately why it’s good for me. The broken fridge gave me a chance to better organize my new fridge. And the absence of computer meant I had more time pursue other things, like read more pages than I usually do or look into my habit of using the computer and make improvements as needed.
The key is to look for positive things as soon as something “bad” happens to you. Try it and you will get hooked on it insha Allah.
Change your attitude about life. Things shouldn’t have to happen in way so you have an attitude of gratitude. Instead, think what you need to change or adapt today so you can have a great attitude.. Amazing things start happening once this habit kicks in. You will learn to focus on yourself instead of wanting others to change to suit your needs or to make you happy. You will respond better to events and relationships. And you will be a more pleasant person to be around with your positive outlook on life.
Expect less, appreciate more-
Have you ever wondered why we are happier when we visit a new place? Why does the same place seem lackluster when we start living there? It’s because we start expecting things when have we for sometime. What once was a source of joy has now become a mere convenience. Once we were on a trip in South Asia and we didn’t have access to hot water in restrooms. The water had to be boiled in the kitchen and then carried to the bathroom in buckets. I felt so grateful when we came back home, it was amazing to have cold and hot water on demand at my finger tips. Add a sense of wonder for every day blessings that we take for granted. Let go of the entitlement and thank Allah(swt) as often as you can, especially when you don’t feel like it.
Know your blessings-
Do you know your blessings? You must know what blessings you’ve been given so you know what an amazing life you have before it’s too late-
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”- Colette
Our blessing come in at least four ways-
The constant blessings- Having Allah(swt) always in our lives, the warmth of the sun, the purity of air, protection from shaitan, our beating heart that works when we sleep etc.
The consistent blessings- Food, water, shelter, the ability to breath, someone to love and be loved, praying at a masjid, coming home from work, His(swt) forgiveness, mercy, protection and guidance etc.
The surprise blessing- Rain waltzing on the street, a kind word, a hug exactly when you needed it, a gift delivered at your doorstep, the traffic light that turned green just in time etc.
Accepted duaas- Our accepted duaas and their manifestations that continue to permeate our lives in innumerable ways.
What are your blessings? Start with the ability to read this post mashaAllah. Did you realize that you can recognize all 26 letters of the English alphabet? That’s 26 blessings right there.
Fake it till you become it-
Life can be hard at times. There will be things in life that will be wildly painful, things that you can’t control. This can be hard. But choose gratitude anyways. Even and especially when you feel far from it. Accept the event and declare that all praise belongs to Allah(swt) at all the time, irrespective of your feelings about an event.
Does faking it make you bad person? No. Is it lying? No. Have you ever prayed when you didn’t want to but dragged yourself on the prayer mat anyways? Being grateful when you don’t feel like it is just like that.
How do you fake it? Act the way a grateful person does. Act gracefully when you feel cross, smile when you want to curse, dhikr when you want to yell- act the way a thankful person does, like things couldn’t be any better for you. If you find yourself stuck in traffic at the end of a day and you’re about to throw a tantrum and complain how terrible everything is, do the opposite of what your mind tells you to do. Instead of wailing an ugghh I’m stuck again, say omG I’m driving again and on my way to a place where I have food, water and shelter. Today my car didn’t break down, I have enough gas to take me home and I’m a whiz at parking in my garage, again. How’s that for an Alhamdulillah?
Often times we are so wrapped up in our future worries or past regrets that we forget to see what we have now. Or, we get caught up into daydreaming about how we would be more grateful if only we had more of this and less of that. It can be challenging to fully accept that what we are given right now will and surely will manifest into something better soon insha Allah.
Being present allows to you enjoy your journey with all its perks.
I remember the Tuesday night when I took one of my kids to the ER, twice. When we finally came home it was around 3:00 in the morning. I remember how grateful I felt with everyone safe around me, fast asleep. My bed never felt more cozier.
We have many blessings but they come with the timer on. So, be an active grateful person, not a passive one. You don’t have control over many things but you do get to decide the kind of person you want to be. Make the decision to be a grateful person today and do not wait for your feelings or a good thing to happen so you can be grateful. And when you say alhamdulillah, say it with gusto.
”All the praises and thanks be to Allah”