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Self Development for Muslim Youth

Powerful Strategies for Developing Gratitude

In the twenty first century, our knowledge about mental health has grown in leaps and bounds. Slowly the stigma attached to mental health issues is being eradicated and people are more able to talk about issues surrounding mental wellbeing.

This is most likely due to the fact that, in today’s constant hustle and bustle, more people are suffering from stress and its close associates, anxiety and depression.

Islam is constantly referred to as a way of life that is perfectly applicable to all situations in all eras. However, many people, while acknowledging this, fail to turn to Islam as the solution to the psychological problems and mental health issues that afflict them.

In Islam, and in modern western thinking, gratitude is acknowledged as one of the best ways to promote mental and spiritual wellbeing.

When reading the Quran, we find that God mentions gratitude regularly. Thus we cannot fail to see that gratitude is a commandment from God.

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So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. (Quran 2:152)

…If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe. (Quran 14:7)

For some people, it is very easy to get into the habit of showing our gratitude. We praise God and we thank Him, we feel that the good things that come to us are indeed from God and we try to acknowledge this fact privately and publicly.

The word ‘Alhamdulillah’ slips out of our mouths without a second thought. Whilst being grateful without thinking about it does not negate our gratefulness, imagine if we could take that gratefulness to another level.

What if we could have a whole new level of gratitude and positivity in our lives?

There is a big difference between saying ‘thanks’, and saying ‘thank you’ with deep affection and appreciation.

Many books and websites offer us ways to develop long lasting positive gratitude, because, they say, this is the sort of gratitude that helps a person to weather the stress and anxiety that is inherent in the human condition.

It should come as no surprise that Islam offers many of these strategies. God knows the human condition; after all, He created it.

Brendon Burchard is a “high performance coach”. He motivates people to succeed in business and in life. And surprise, surprise, a lot of his theories and methods fit very neatly into the principles of Islam.

They tend to emulate the commandments of God and the advice of Prophet Muhammad.

Let us, through this series of articles, take a closer look at the strategies suggested by Burchard in the hope that they will help us cultivate a higher level of longer lasting gratitude and higher levels of positivity.

Stop Complaining

It is virtually impossible to complain and be grateful at the same time. Start to take notice of how many times you complain and what you complain about.

Perhaps it is your husband or wife, or your children. Perhaps you complain about the traffic, or the weather or the price of the groceries.

Figure out what it is you complain about most often and set yourself goals to help you stop. Constantly whining and complaining sets you upon a path of negativity.

You are responsible for how you act in each and every situation. Stop blaming others and be grateful.

If you are stuck in traffic, be grateful that you have a car. If the price of food is too high, think about the people who have no food.

Prophet Muhammad said:

If any of you would like to see the blessings God has bestowed upon you, then let him look at those less fortunate then him and not those who appear to be better off.[1]

Don’t complain that your blessings are too small or limited. Treat all the blessings from God with both respect and gratitude.

Prophet Muhammad was with his beloved wife, Aisha, one day when he noticed a scrap of bread on the floor. He picked it up, wiped it and said:

Treat the blessings of God with respect because if they depart they might never come back.[2]

Complain to Your Creator

Sometimes a person is faced with trials and tribulations and feels they have no recourse except to complain.

Complaining to others has no benefit; oftentimes it just exacerbates the situation and surrounds you with negativity.

If a person must complain, then who better to complain to than your Creator? Even the Prophets felt the trials of this life and they had no problem turning to God when they felt overwhelmed, or felt that life was not going well.

For example, Prophet Noah cried out for help. He invoked God saying:

Indeed, I am overpowered, so help. (Quran 54:10)

Prophet Muhammad said to his followers and thus to us:

I know words that will cause God to remove your distress. They are the words of supplication used by Prophet Jonah.[3]

Jonah said:

There is nothing worthy of worship but You, How exalted You are above all that they associate with You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers. (Quran 21:87)

This is one of the best supplications a distressed person can make.

We should all be familiar with the story of Prophet Jacob’s grief when losing not one but two beloved sons.

He had every reason to complain and feel sorry for himself. He did complain and he did feel sad and sorry but he complained only to the One who could alleviate his suffering, God.

Prophet Jacob said:

I only complain of my suffering and my grief to God, and I know from God that which you do not know. (Yusuf 12:86)


Do not allow yourself to get trapped in a circle of complaining. Take some time to become aware of just how often you complain. Is it every day, or every hour or all the time?

Do you express your complaints out loud or are they a constant internal dialogue?

Observe the people around. Do they look happy or grateful?

Sometimes the way people stand and use their arms and hands, and their facial expressions reveal their level of gratitude. What does your posture tell you about yourself?

Listen to the people around you and listen to yourself. Are the words you hear negative and pessimistic?

If we follow God’s commandments and emulate the Prophets’ ways of behaving, we will have very little cause to complain.

Take account of yourself and try to become aware of when and why you are complaining and then stop!

Replace your complaints with expressions of gratitude; there are many benefits from writing regularly in a gratitude journal.

Try this and other strategies to feel genuinely thankful for the life that you have.

(From Discovering Islam archives)


[1] Sahih Muslim

[2] Ibn Abud Dunya

[3] At-Tirmidhi

About Aisha Stacey
Aisha Stacey is the mother of three adult children. She embraced Islam in 2002 and spent the next five years in Doha, Qatar studying Islam and working at the Fanar Cultural Centre. In 2006 Aisha returned to university for a second time and completed at Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Writing. Aisha is also a published writer in both internet and print media and in 2009 -10 she was the Queensland editor at a national Australian Islamic newspaper ~ Crescent Times.