The Psychology of Gratitude

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Some blessings are sent as a disguise, and we often times may fail to see how truly blessed we are, unless of course we are truly grateful. Gratitude is not just something expressed in the Quran and a trait of the believers, but it is also a well researched topic in the field of psychology.

Gratitude is an emotion that we use to express our appreciation for what we have in life, whether that be little or lots. Allah (swt) tells us that it is the ones who are grateful who earn His pleasure, and modern positive psychology confirms that those who express gratitude are healthier, happier, and more productive in life. Isn’t that what Allah (swt) wants for His faithful servants?

And it is He who has made the night and the day in succession for whoever desires to remember or desires gratitude. [Quran, 25:62]

Being Grateful Means Being Happy

Psychological studies have shown that people who are grateful and express gratitude to those around them have an abundance of energy, empathy, and optimism as opposed to those who are not. Allah (swt) also has given us so very much that it would be impossible for us to count the numerous blessings!

And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah , you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.

If we are truly grateful, what do we have to be upset, angry, or miserly about? The more we concentrate on what we have instead of what we don’t and what others have, the happier we will be and the more we can remember how blessed we are to have everything that we need, masha Allah

Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing. Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful. [Quran, 76:2-3]

Be Grateful to Be Healthy

Being healthy is also something we often take for granted. When we sprain an ankle, get a splinter, or have a minor cold do we thank Allah (swt) for these afflictions or do we gripe at the inconvenience it has given us?

To be grateful, we must be thankful for all things! Imagine breaking your ankle as opposed to a sprain, or having pneumonia instead of just a common cold. When we think of how much worse things could be, we are reminded of Allah’s (swt) mercy.

And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], “Be grateful to Allah .” And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy. [Quran, 31:12]

Psychologists have also discovered that being grateful is good for your health, since your brain will occupy itself with happy and thankful thoughts rather than traumatic or negative ones, which will reduce the stress on your body and as a result, improve your health in shaa allah. They also say that gratitude plays a part in emotional healing, since grateful people can accept and make sense of negative events in life and overall form a more positive outlook for the future rather than dwelling in the past.

Gratitude Leads to Goodness

As believers, we must be so truly thankful and humbled by the blessings that Allah (swt) has given us that it encourages us to give, spread love, and have compassion for all creatures. When doing good, we should be grateful that Allah (swt) has blessed us with the chance to be presented with the opportunity to do good, and to do it for Him out of love and fear of the last day.

They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread. And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah . We wish not from you reward or gratitude. Indeed, We fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful.” [Quran, 76:7-10]

The feel good-do good phenomenon also says that when we feel good, we are encouraged to do more good. Gratitude will lead to happiness, so by just being thankful for the simplest things, we will be able to recognize the opportunity to help someone and be more motivated to spread joy, to learn, and to teach.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

All things can be a test, so when we are rewarded with good Allah (swt) may be testing us to see if we act selfishly or if we remember to thank Him and share. When we are afflicted with pain, or we suffer a great loss it could be that we again are being tested to see how grateful we are for Allah’s (swt) mercy.

Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing. Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful. [Quran, 76:2-3]

Start a Gratitude Journal

If you find you have a hard time remembering and being thankful you can train yourself to learn how to be grateful. Start a journal and keep it with you wherever you go. Any time you are blessed with the chance to do good, receive something good, or are afflicted with something bad that could have been worse jot it down.

You will find that this will help you appreciate the smallest things and will keep your mind from wandering into a negative state. Psychologists have found that by keeping a gratitude journal, people show physical and mental health improvements and are more more productive and alert, have higher self esteem, exercise more, and will sleep better suffer from less stress and anxiety.

Live Life Gratefully!

When we are able to let go, and ready to open ourselves up to see the miraculous blessings of Allah (swt), we can devote our time, our energy, our talents, and our resources to doing good to please Him rather than just for the benefit of ourselves.

Find someone to thank, even for something simple and spread happiness. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]. Above all, remember to thank Allah (swt) and be grateful!

O Allah, assist us in remembering you, thanking you, and worshipping you in the most excellent of manners.

Praying you will benefit.

Vanessa

2 Comments

  1. nazmul ahsan May 27, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for this nice article but try not to say the same thing twice.

  2. Excellent topic. The same is required by all more perticularly the young generation,majority of them because of lack of proper knowledge of Islam both from Quran and Haadis they are not able to differetiate the wording of Quran. The word gratitude is linked with the contentment over the things which Allah ( SWT) bestowed us with his mercy and benevolency. If we are gratitude from the begining of our life. stage by stage we will be able to have contentment. Hence, we should sincerely practice how to be content with the lives whcih has been provided by Allah (SWT). May Allah taala give us patience and knowledge to all of us. Ameen.

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