Assalamu alaikum (May peace be upon you all)
The Weekly Jumuah Specials by Khawlah b. Yayha are back!
A weekly boost of daily life lessons and action points from Qur’anic ayaat and Prophetic narrations, coming to you on the best day of the week.
Short-term happiness is easy to find – think of nice food, shopping or a celebration – but how to find happiness that lasts longer?
In this week’s Jumuah Special you’ll learn 5 Ways to Be Happy, in the Long Run!
Since we are in an era of not being on survival mode – we are ‘rich’ enough to have food, drink and shelter- happiness has become a huge area in psychological research. Short-term happiness is an easy and brief moment of happiness, triggered by the release of dopamine in the brain. Like eating something nice, a celebration with friends or buying that one thing you wanted. It’s usually easy to get, yet its effect wears off quickly. Long-term happiness, like reaching certain goals, is harder to achieve.
It’s important to know that both types of happiness are valid and important. Allah, the Most High, tells us: Unquestionably, [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve – Those who believed and were fearing Allah. For them are good tidings in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. No change is there in the words [i.e., decrees] of Allah. That is what is the great attainment. [Qur’an, 10:62-64]
Let’s find out five ways to feel happy now and after, by the will of Allah!
1. Try the underestimated way to build strength
No time, too tired or just feeling lazy; we all know that exercising makes us feel good, but taking the first step to get active is often challenging. The solution is in the Qur’an and Sunnah! Allah, the Most High, says, the Prophet Hūd said:
O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimoon (criminals).” [Qur’an, 11:52]
Action point: seek forgiveness (Istighfar) throughout your day, increase in saying ‘Astaghfirullah’ and get strength, by Allah’s will.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said about the benefits of remembering Allah: Dhikr gives a person strength so that he can do with Dhikr that which he cannot do without it. I saw wonders in the strength of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah in walking, speech, courage and writing. [Al-Wabil al-Sayyib]
Action point: increase in saying SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, Laa ilaaha illAllah, Laa hawla wa laa quwatta illaa billah and Allahu akbar – and see how it effects not only your physical strength, but also your productivity!
2. Teach yourself to think positively
Factors that influence your happiness now, such as successes, relationships, financial circumstances etc are said to only ‘predict’ 10 percent of your long-term happiness. 90% of your long-term happiness is based on how you perceive the world around you. This is where two major concepts in Islam come into play: positive thinking and thankfulness (Shukr). Allah, the Most High, says: Whoever gives thanks benefits his own soul… [Qur’an, 31:12]
How can you think positively? It all stems from thinking positively of Allah, the Most High, also called Husnu adh-dhan. The Prophet ﷺ said: Allah, may He be exalted, says: ‘‘I am as My slave thinks I am, and I am with him when he remembers Me. [part of the hadith, Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Thinking positively of Allah is a great act of worship (‘Ibadah) and it means you believe in His attributes and actions, knowing He has great wisdom in all that He wills and decrees. Thinking positively of Allah doesn’t mean sitting back and merely hoping for His Mercy, forgiveness and acceptance. Husnu adh-Dhan should be a real driving force in doing more good deeds!
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: Whoever reflects upon the matter properly, will realize that thinking positively of Allah will lead to doing righteous deeds, because the only reason for doing righteous deeds is his thinking positively of his Lord and believing that He will reward him for his deeds and accept them from him. So, what motivates him to do good deeds is his thinking positively of Allah. Hence the more he thinks positively of Allah, the better his deeds will be.
Action point: Beg Allah daily to help you think positively of Him and guide you to good deeds and to thinking positively in life in general; it will make up your happiness long-term!
3. Get rid of your negative thoughts
On the flip side, a main issue that stands in the way of bot our short and long-term happiness, is having negative thoughts and not knowing how to get rid of them.
A Spanish University’s research found that by writing down these thoughts on a paper and then tearing them up or throwing them away, helped.
Action point: Next time, simply tell Allah your worries and ask Him to help you with your negative thoughts. Use the beautiful supplication of the Prophet Ayyub, peace be upon him:
اَنِّىْ مَسَّنِىَ الضُّرُّ وَاَنْتَ اَرْحَمُ الرّٰحِمِيْنَ
(O My Lord!) “Verily, some harm has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who are merciful.” [Qur’an, 21:83]
A huge reason of being overwhelmed with negative thoughts is our wandering mind, which is not a happy mind. According to Harvard research, unlike animals, as humans we spend almost half of our life (while being awake) thinking about what is not going on around us, about something other than what we’re doing. We are consumed by thinking about what happened in the past, might happen in the future or never at all.
We can try to battle this by truly living by the following narration. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Everything has a reality, and the servant will not reach the reality of faith until he knows that what afflicted him could never miss him, and that what missed him could never have afflicted him.” [Musnad Ahmad]
Action point: you don’t need to prioritize long-term happiness at the expense of day-to-day enjoyments. Start looking for small ways to bring back joy to your daily life by being more mindful and present in the moment. Eat more slowly, taking a moment to explore the texture and taste of the things you consume. Realize what you have today, thank Him and repent to Him. Don’t worry too much about who your children will turn out to be, realize they are someone now. Beg Allah, the Most High, to help you reach the reality of faith and know what is meant to be will be.
4. Help yourself, help others
A bigger house, car, or better phone, it’s short-term happiness. Yet, as presented in research by Harvard, helping others significantly effects our happiness, ongoing. In His Mercy, Allah, the Most High, taught us the concept of charity embedded in our daily routine (Sadaqah); an unprecedented tool for our own and others’ happiness.
Action point: Ask Allah to guide you to practise small acts of kindness, every day.
The Prophet ﷺ said: Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you. [At-Tirmidhi]
Do you want Allah Himself to nurture your Sadaqah? The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “None gives charity from what is good, for Allah only accepts what is good, except that the Merciful takes it with his right hand. Even if it is a date, it is nurtured in the hand of the Merciful until it becomes greater than a mountain, just as one of you nurtures his young horse or camel.” [Muslim]
5. Loving others for real
Love has been related to the quest for happiness for as long as we can look back into history. But many kinds of love are in reality breaking our happiness, especially long-term.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Among the servants of Allah there will be those whom the Prophets and the martyrs will consider fortunate”. It was said: Who are these, O Messenger of Allah, so we may love them. He said: “These are people who loved one another for the sake of Allah without any other interest like money or kinship. Their faces will be light, upon platforms of light. They shall have no fear (on that Day) when fear shall come upon people. Nor shall they grieve when others grieve”. Then he recited: Behold! Verily, the Awliya’ (friends and allies) of Allah, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. [Tafsir ibn Kathir] A huge reward of true happiness for those who love another for Allah’s sake!
Action point: Supplicate Allah, Al-Wadood, the Most Loving, to guide you to loving others for His sake and direct you away from all types of love which stand in your way of true happiness.
Praying you will benefit,
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Khawlah b. Yahya – United Kingdom
Khawlah b. Yahya founded SISTERS’ PROJECT in 2008, a United Kingdom based women’s support organization, the creative community lead in an art gallery and is a writer for different Islamic organizations and academies. She authored the renown How to Live by the Names of Allah Series, published by the Understand Qur’an Academy, as well as the internationally shared Revive a Sunnah Series. She focuses most of her work on how to translate classic Islamic Knowledge to daily life action. She recently released Personal Lessons from the Qur’an, in which daily life action points are based on Qur’anic Ayaat in a way that’s never seen before. You can purchase the E-book on: understandquran.com/product/personal-lessons-from-the-quran/