James Montier, a renowned global equity strategist studied behavioral psychology and concluded in his research ‘The Psychology of Happiness’ that psychologists have found that happiness is comprised of three components:
1- About 50% of individual happiness comes from a genetic set point. That is, we’re each predisposed to a certain level of happiness. Some of us are just naturally more inclined to be cheery than others.
2- About 10% of our happiness is due to our circumstances; demographic factors, age, gender, ethnicity and geographic factors. It also includes personal history and life status.
3- The remaining 40% of an individual’s happiness is derived from intentional activity, from discrete actions or practices that we choose to do.
As humans we have no control over our genetic set-point, and hardly any control over our circumstances (whether it is truly 50% or not Allah knows best!). But there is a percentage (again how much – Allah knows best) of happiness in Islam is called ‘rida bi al-qada’ (being content with our lot in life).
This means that as believers if we truly love Allah and trust Him, we are satisfied with what He Has decreed for us. The Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) would supplicate with words that would highlight the importance of satisfaction with our fate; therefore we too should make the effort to recite these supplications:
I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). (Abu Dawud)
O Allah, make me content with what you have provided me, send blessings for me therein, and place for me every absent thing with something better. (Al-Bukhari)
O Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge which does not bring benefit and from a heart which is not fearful and from a self which is not content and from a supplication which is not answered. (Muslim)
Thereafter, the main conclusion to be drawn from Montier’s research is that we can only work on the last 40% to make ourselves happier. It must be noted that this 40% cannot be achieved in pursuit of money, fame or anything else materialistic. These are all transitory, and anything transitory will never result in true happiness.
True happiness in Islam is contentment, and this is only attained through activities which are not fleeting. So here are the 10 steps in the light of Qurʾān and Hadith which makes our lives happier:
1- Seek the Pleasure of Allah
Nothing can make us more happier than seeking the pleasure of Allah . Allah tells us in Quran about what is the greatest happiness in Islam, calling it a ‘supreme success’ and about the people who deserve this supreme success.
The believers, men and women, are Awliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends) of one another; they enjoin (on people) Al-Ma’rûf (good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (evil); they perform As-Salât (prayer), and give the Zakât (charity), and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allāh will have His Mercy on them. (9:71, 72)
2- Be Thankful
The more Thankful we are to Allah , the more He will shower His bounties upon us. Appreciation of what Allah has blessed you with is vital for this step to be achieved. This is indeed an act of worship.
And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless, verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (14:7)
O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. (2:172)
3- Satisfy Your Soul
Work on activities that result in internal happiness that satisfy and bring a smile to the heart, not merely a smile on the face by doing meaningful work; strive to partake in activities like feeding the poor, assisting the distressed and helping others rather than killing your resources like time and money.
True enrichment does not come through possessing a lot of wealth, but true enrichment is the enrichment of the soul. (Al-Bukhari)
4- Avoid Worldly Comparisons
Do not look at the celebrities, rich or affluent people above you in worldly matters. The lives of such individuals is not ‘ideal’ in the eyes of Allah . Admire the lives of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) who are our role models.
5- Expect Only From Allah
Any sustenance, provision and reward we expect is from Allah alone.
O Allah, give me enough of what You have made lawful to suffice me from what You have made unlawful, and enrich me by Your bounty giving me independence from all other than You. (Al-Tirmidhi)
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