One thing that really helps me to stay grateful, content, peaceful, happy, and/or calm all the time is to remember the Law of Attraction. Some Muslims may disagree with this, but I am writing this from my honest personal experience while trying to combine my ideas with the teachings of Islam.
Rhonda Byrne did a great job of publicizing the “Law of Attraction”. Even though, as a Muslim, I do NOT agree with EVERYTHING that Rhonda says in her movie or book, I think it is unfortunate that some Muslims dismiss the Law of Attraction altogether.
Basically the law of attraction says that your outer world is a reflection of what you are thinking and FEELING. Your thoughts cause your feelings. And your feelings cause your actions. This is a basic idea of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is one of the most researched and empirically validated theories of counseling.
A Quranic verse that to me seems to repeat the message of the Law of Attraction is,
“…Surely Allah does not change the conditions in which a people are in until they change that which is in themselves… (13:11).” If we are not happy with our conditions, we need to change something inside us. What is inside us? Our thoughts and feelings!
When I am feeling low, which is normal sometimes, I remind myself that my low feelings are affecting my outer life. If I want to improve my life, I need to improve my feelings; i.e. think good thoughts. I remember that Allah’s blessings on me are so much heavier than my problems! I remember the Law of Attraction. I look at people with understanding and mercy rather than blame and negativity. I try to treat people as I hope that Allah will treat me—with love and mercy.
When you understand that your feeling frequency does affect your outer world, you will learn how to lift your frequency and feel good without really having a clear reason. It will become a skill. You will feel lighter, higher, clearer. You won’t need a reason, but the underlying reason is that you know that Allah has blessed you to be a Muslim. Even if you are not the best Muslim, just the fact that Allah has blessed you to say the shahada and to read Surah Al Fatihah is enough to lift your mood forever.
If you don’t think the Law of Attraction is true, at least you would agree that staying calm is a good thing. When things are going wrong, we all know that staying calm and rational helps you to solve your problems better. When we become angry or panic, this negative feeling frequency actually makes the problem worse.
HAPPINESS HINT: Learn to pay attention to your inner world.
I don’t fully understand the Law of Attraction, but to be honest, I have seen it operate in my life. Allah tells us to use our reason and intelligence to interpret the signs around us.17 One interpretation that Rhonda Byrne makes about the Law of Attraction is that she seems to encourage pretending to be happy. This certainly rubs me the wrong way, because one of the core values of Islam is self honesty/sincerity. In my opinion, we should lift our feelings in a genuine way. We can help ourselves to be sincerely happy by choosing positive thoughts that we genuinely believe. When you learn to replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts that you genuinely believe, you will genuinely feel better.
For example, if you are disturbed by some qualities of a person who you know, you can choose to focus on their positive qualities that you sincerely appreciate. You can choose to have good thoughts that you sincerely believe about that person, while accepting the fact that some of his or her qualities are quite disturbing.
A personal story that comes to mind is when I was working as an intensive in-home counselor in downtown Richmond, Virginia. I was visiting a teenage girl’s school and was going to pick her up and take her home that day. I met with her briefly about 5 minutes before the bell was to ring. I told her I would wait for her in the front office. I ended up waiting for her for 45 minutes, much to my dismay. Rather than staying calm, I became irritated. I didn’t know what to do, and I felt that I could not leave because the girl was expecting me to take her home. When she finally came, she explained without a care that her teacher wanted her to stay after a little longer for a make-up quiz. I held my tongue and proceeded to drive her home. I felt that I was perfectly justified for being irate. On the way to her home, I ended up getting a speeding ticket which was quite costly. Looking back, I realize that my irate attitude, though justified, seemed to have attracted another event to add to my irritation–a speeding ticket. Alhamdulillah we did not have a car accident! But the lesson I learned is that we must train ourselves to maintain inner peace and calm at all times, even when our irritation is justified! When we feel any negative feeling, it does attract more negative circumstances.
Another example is when we are having computer problems. It is quite normal to become frustrated and impatient when we are having computer troubles. However, it is better, i.e. “above normal” to be calm, patient, and rational when we have these experiences!
Our life circumstances often become worse when we forget to be thankful for what is going right, and for what we have. Allah tells us that when we are thankful, He will give us more (14:7). Allah also tells us to never be ungrateful (2:152). If you find that your life circumstances are going downhill, there’s a high chance that you are forgetting to be genuinely thankful for what you already have.
One point I feel is important to make is that as believers, we do not always deserve the bad things that happen to us. Unfortunately, many Muslims misinterpret verse 42:30, which states, “Whatever hardship befalls you is the result of your own deeds. God pardons many of your sins.” Here is what Shaykh Muhammad Sarwar says about this verse in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Koran” on p. 176:
This has been interpreted by some to mean that any misfortune that befalls any human being is exclusively the result of his or her own actions. This interpretation, however, ignores the fact that the words are addressed by Allah exclusively to the unbelievers–that is, people who maintain their willful rejection of the message of the Koran, despite it having been revealed to them with great clarity and in a manner that no rational person would reject. What the verse is saying, in other words, is that God may bring earthly hardships to those who knowingly reject the divine truth and harden themselves against its guidance. This kind of misfortune can, of course, take many forms, some of it obvious, some of it less so. On the larger question of (apparent) “good luck” or “bad luck”, the Koran’s message is clear: We may expect to be tested during both good times and bad.
One technique that helps me to be in a happy state is to literally remind myself to raise my “feeling frequency”. In doing so, I really feel a sense of my mind rising above the small issues/problems, and I feel happier and clearer. I have achieved this ability through practice, but mainly by remembering the favors of my Lord that I know He has blessed me with, and that make me feel like I could never be down. These specific favors are private blessings that I will not share in this book, but I hope you are able to raise your feeling frequency–for the sake of being a better, more grateful and more productive Muslim.
HAPPINESS HINT: Raising your “feeling frequency” will bring solutions to your problems faster than dwelling on your problems.