“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”
Surah Rahman Ayat 13
“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”
Surah Ibrahim Ayat 7
2 Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) on gratitude:
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “There are two blessings that many people are deceived into losing: health and free time.” Sahih Al-Bukhari 6412
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Take advantage while you still have them: (i) your youth before your old age, (ii) good health before your illness, (iii) your riches before your poverty, (iv) your free time before your over-worked, (v) and your life before breathing your last.” Sahih Al-Albani in Shu’abul-Iman 9575
If you woke up every morning and thought to yourself how great it is you get to live another day, that you get to breathe this air, see your loved family or friends. I can guarantee that you will be happier than if you had gone without that reflection.
Nothing in your life has changed, yet you became happier.
Why is that?
That’s because when we’re taking time to be grateful to Allah (swt), it’s hard to feel anger, resentment, or fear. Your mind and attention is not fixated on what you’re lacking but seeing the many blessings you currently have.
If you’re a little pessimistic, you may say, well… this happiness doesn’t last.
That is also true.
As the day goes on, we get pulled in a hundred different directions, and our desires take control, and we lose this center of appreciation. As the hadith says, we are deceived or tricked into losing the blessing of both health and time.
This is why we must constantly engage in remembering Allah (swt) and show gratitude towards the many blessings he’s given us.
It is useful to know that at any given time we choose, we can find many things to say Alhamdulillah for. If we find our minds to have become corrupted by the events and emotions of the day, know we always have the power to regain control of our internal state.
Once we see that this life is a gift, and with it, we must accept both the good and the bad, we can control the extent to which we let the negative affect us.
But like all the great rewards of life, it takes practice and hard work.
It takes discipline and thoughtfulness to practice daily gratitude. It’s hard work to remember to say alhamdulillah and to feel a deep appreciation for things like your health, the air, and to appreciate the time we have left.
One thing I’ve learned that’s been of immense value to me is the perception of time. Many of us believe that death is something that happens to us in the future, seeing that a person passes away at the age of 77. If your 30, that would seem like death is something 47 years away. It seems like a long time, and that’s because it is. But we don’t know what Allah (swt) has decreed for us. It’s more practical to see that every second that passes us by is a piece of us dying. That every second that escapes you is forever gone and part of history that was your existence.
People often struggle to practice gratitude but that’s because they have failed to make it a priority. You can avoid doing the same by simply scheduling a set time every day to do this practice.
The beauty of Islam is we can do this five times a day, spending a few minutes at the end of every salah to be mindful. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and calm the noise that’s in your mind. Learn to be specific and show gratitude and thankfulness to Allah (swt) for the smallest of things.
For example, just think how crazy the microwave is – it heats food for you in 10 seconds so you don’t have to eat cold leftovers (how spoiled are you!). It’s a relatively new invention dated back to 1946, and at the time, only the rich could afford it (what a privilege!).
Right now, find something you can be grateful for?
Really think about it, try to feel it.
Write it down.
At the end of the exercise, see if don’t you feel better.