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How To Be 'happy' - Islam for Muslims - Nairaland

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How To Be 'happy' by snubish: 10:51pm On Nov 01, 2013
not that I'm this sad guy, but I am not this 'happy go lucky, life is a ball' kind of guy either. I tend to view 'happiness' with suspicion and apprehension, and can't stop feeling that so called happy people are really being selfish. so I felt happy when I stumbled across this article on suhaibwebb.com and thought to share it with people that may be struggling with the concept of happiness. here :


I was recently asked to give a talk entitled, “The Pursuit of Happiness.” I had a lot to say about the topic, and unfortunately was not able to deliver all of it. This topic is really important in general, but especially in this day and age where we find many people suffering from depression/melancholy at some point in their life.

What is Happiness?

Most Americans are familiar with the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—rights enshrined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. But in order to talk about the pursuit of happiness, we need to know what happiness is.

It turns out that happiness is a little hard to define. We all know what it is, and we know when we are happy, but it is difficult to put into words because it is so experiential. It is one of these things that is an end in and of itself; people want things in order to be happy, whether it is wealth, health, or a dream we want to achieve. Wikipedia’s definition states that “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Psychologist Ed Diener, author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, describes it as a combination of life satisfaction and having more positive emotions than negative emotions.

Most of us would think that we would be “happy” if we were able to obtain some life achievement, or that our happiness would disappear if we lost our home in a fire (God forbid). But psychologists have found that after some period of adjustment, we actually go back to our previous level of happiness, no matter what happens to us. So happiness is a state that we can cultivate that does not have to be permanently affected by the things that happen to us externally. The more we work on our happiness, the easier it is to come back to it after times of hardship.


The Pursuit of Happiness

There are two types “happiness”: in Jannah (Paradise) and in this world. Jannah is a happiness that we pursue, it is the permanent happiness, where there is no fear or grief. And insha’Allah (God willing), everything that we do should be geared for that: the pleasure of God and Jannah.
But in this world, I do not believe in the pursuit of happiness. That is not because I do not believe in happiness in this world. It is quite the opposite. I just do not believe in pursuing it, because when we say we are pursuing happiness, we are implying that happiness is something that is outside of us and that it is out of reach, which is why we have to pursue it.

Yet Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), has made happiness in this world easy. He made it something inside of us that is not necessarily dependent on the external. So we can pursue Jannah while being happy in this world, or we can pursue it while being depressed—which one would you rather have? Which one will enable you to be more productive?

Question:

Do you think Allah (swt) wants you to be happy in this world?

The answer to this question matters greatly. If you think that you are meant to suffer, then that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every bad thing that happens becomes a moment of “Of course I knew this would happen, I have such terrible luck,” as opposed to something we learn from and grow as a result of. If we think Allah (swt) wants us to suffer, then we will only find closeness to Him in pain. This does not mean that we cannot find Allah (swt) in moments of pain, but we should be able to go to Allah both in times of ease and in hardship. So does He want us to be happy in this world?

Happiness in the Life of a Believer

My argument is that Allah (swt) wants us to be happy in this world—especially when happiness is defined as a general state of contentment. Why do I say this? Our example, the Prophet ﷺ, was a balanced man. His general state was one of contentment. He was described as daa’im al-bushra, meaning he was always optimistic and happy. He was serious when times called for it, and that was to encourage reflection and accountability, and prevent frivolity.

Moreover, we are taught that the best thing to do is make others happy. The Prophet ﷺ said that the most beloved deed to Allah (swt) after the obligatory acts of worship is to bring joy to a fellow Muslim. He also said that what necessitates forgiveness from Allah (swt) is bringing joy to your brother (Tabarani). Finally he taught us that the only reward for bringing joy to an entire household is Paradise (Tabarani). When the Prophet ﷺ found out that a child’s pet bird had died, he went to play with him to make him forgot about his sorrow. If we are all busy making others happy, who is left to be sad?

How to Be Happy

I started going through studies and articles written on happiness and what makes people happy. I found that the results were a combination of things, and most articles mentioned gratefulness, optimism, purpose, love, and doing good. All of these help us to reach a general state of happiness or contentment.

Interestingly, all of these are virtues taught to us in the Qur’an and by the Prophet ﷺ:

Gratefulness:
We are told in the Qur’an: “And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Qu’ran, 18:18)[Unknown A1] . Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, we can realize that all of the blessings that we have can have a profound effect on our well-being. Instead of focusing on what we do not have, or the negative things that happened to us in a day, we should focus on what we have been given.

Optimism:
Every notice how some people just have good energy? They tend to be optimistic people that can see the good in situations where others only see negatives. Allah (swt) teaches us how to have this outlook, when He tells us “I am at my servant’s opinion of Me,” (Bukhari). If you think well of Allah, that is what you will find. So Allah is telling us that it is up to us. If we want to imagine a grumpy god that wants wickedness for the world, well, it is our own fault that that is what we see. But Allah (swt) encourages us to think well of Him—He is teaching us the Islamic outlook on life. He teaches us to be optimistic even in times of distress, when He says, “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief,” (Qur’an, 94:5-6). Every hardship comes with at least two reliefs, so focus on the good that Allah (swt) gave you to help overcome the bad. Moreover, we are also reminded “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not,” (Qur’an, 2:216). Being optimistic means not seeing simply the hardship, but what could be behind the hardship in terms of lessons, and seeing that it could be a good thing.
Purpose: What is Islam about if not about defining our purpose? A recent UCLA study showed that the happiness that comes from having a deep sense of meaning and purpose in life can contribute to favorable gene-expression profiles. When you know what you are pursuing, it makes everything worth it. So think: who do you want to be? We all know we were sent worship God, but we also know that besides the basics that we are all required to do (such as prayers, fasting, alms-giving etc), we each are unique in the way that we seek closeness to Him. It could be through starting up an ethical business, dedicating our lives to be an amazing teacher, striving to be a wonderful parent, devoting our time to issues of social justice—anything.

Love:
We all have people that love us. And it is important to foster good relationships with our family and friends. We are reminded again and again to have a good relationship with our neighbors, our close friends and our family. It is not only a duty, but also something that enriches our life. And even if we think we do not have anyone that loves us, then we should remember that Allah (swt) loves us. And we should not for a moment let shaytan (the Devil) tell us that this is not true. Why would Allah (swt) allow you to read these words of encouragement if He did not want what is best for you? And why would He want what is best for you if He does not love you?

First, it is natural to have our down moments. The Prophet ﷺ was sad when he lost his son Ibrahim. He suffered many hardships as well. When Aisha (ra) asked him whether the Battle of Uhud was the most difficult thing he went through, he said that it was the abuse he was subjected to at Ta’if that was the worst.

Second, there is a difference between being tested externally and being defeated internally. Yes, Allah (swt) tests those He loves. But He only tests us with what we can bear. This means that the stronger we are internally, the more hardship we are able to bear. Allah (swt) does not aim to destroy you but to build you. If you are at peace, while you will be shaken by hardships, you will not be broken, like the prophets and the righteous. Your worldview will enable you to see the hardship for what it is: temporary.

So when things go wrong, let yourself be sad as opposed to bottling things up. The Prophet ﷺ wept for his son. Things bothered him sometimes. But that was not his general state. He did not dwell on his hardships. Rather, his healthy internal state allowed him return to his default, which was a state of gratefulness and optimism.

If you ever feel down or distressed, remember this du`a’ (supplication):
O Allāh, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men.
[Bukhari]

Practical Tips
When we talk about happiness, it is easy to talk about the intangibles, but what are concrete ways to get there? I have compiled a list that I hope will help, Insha’Allah:

Realize that happiness is truly from within. Let go of holding onto to stress and fear, and realize that Allah (swt) gave you the power to affect your internal state. Allah says He is what we think of Him, so we need to live in accordance with that opinion and internalize that good opinion of Him.
Build hope and faith in Allah, and develop your relationship with Him: this is your asset and will get you through things. Study His Names, focus on connecting to Him through your prayers, reflect over the Qur’an and have secret good deeds that no one knows about but Him.
Develop yourself: No two days in the day of a Muslim should be the same. Learn new things. Read. Cultivate the “sound heart”. Work on your interpersonal skills. The Prophet ﷺ said that wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so we should be seeking wisdom in all its forms.

Smile:
It’s a sunnah (tradition of the Prophet ﷺ) as we know, and psychological studies have shown that smiling can increase your happiness levels and lift your spirits. Fun study: Wayne State University scientists in Detroit concluded that those athletes who smiled more in their pictures lived on average seven years longer than those who did not.

Do good:
There are countless ahadeeth (sayings of the Prophet) that encourage us to do good for others, without expecting anything for ourselves. The Prophet ﷺ gave his time in addition to his wealth to people who needed it. Allah (swt) says in the Qu’ran, “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them affection” (Qu’ran, 19:96). Meaning Allah (swt) will show His love for you! Moreover, one of Allah’s Names is ash-Shakoor; He appreciates and gives back even more than you put in when you do good!

Good friends:
The Prophet ﷺ taught us that “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace,” (Bukhari). We know that we can be influenced by the people around us to varying degrees. Researchers show that people who surround themselves with other happy people are more likely to be happy. Happiness is contagious, and so are good habits. Be with people who can remind you, who can encourage you and who care for their own state that they influence you in a good way without even speaking.
Develop a relationship with your family: I put this as a separate point to the above because I feel that it requires extra focus. The Prophet ﷺ tells us, “The best of you are those who are best to their families,” (Tirmidhi). What we go home to also influences us. Many of us live with our parents, and we have heard countless talks about the obedience to parents. But our relationship with our parents is so much more than obedience, and characterizing the relationship in that way makes it rigid and dry. In the Qur’an we are told to “accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]” (31:15). The word is used is saahibhuma, which is from the root that gives us the word saahib: companion. Some of us may have difficult relationships with our parents, and so this part is extra hard if we feel disconnected from them. But remember, we are rewarded for our efforts. Find something in common between you. Maybe your mother enjoys reading and your father loves a certain sport. You can try to find those little things that will transform your relationship.

Take a break:
Do you like knitting? Maybe take time out and watch a documentary. Play martial arts. Do some yoga. Go out for coffee. Chill in the park. This is not haraam and is not considered a waste of time if we are being balanced (and as long as the thing itself is not haraam). Handhala (ra), one of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, went running to the Prophet ﷺ because he feared he was a hypocrite for being more spiritual when he was with him rather than when he was in his family. But the Prophet ﷺ told him, “There is time for this and a time for that,” (Muslim).

see complete article here: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/islam-101/belief-and-worship/the-pursuit-of-happiness/
Re: How To Be 'happy' by harmeenart(f): 6:41am On Nov 02, 2013
Beneficial.May Allah reward you.
But I'm not struggling with d concept of happiness o. grin
Thinking of Allah's favours on me makes me happy and keeps me going.
Well,100 likes.

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