Tuesday 3 January 2012

Lessons on Happiness

I came across this lovely post called 21 Suggestions For Success & Happiness at Sister Zaufishan’s wonderful blog. She has re-posted a similar list by Mr H. Jackson Brown Jr called “21 Suggestions for Success”. It got me thinking. What has 32 and a ½ years of life, 11 years of marriage and nearly 9 years of motherhood taught me about happiness? Here are my 21 suggestions for what they are worth:

1. We are not meant to be happy all of the time. We wouldn’t even know what happiness felt like if we never experienced any grief or sorrow. Once we accept this, we can stop being anxious about not being happy every second of the day.

2. Keep to your salah (prayers) and Allah (SWT) will bestow contentment and tranquillity insh’Allah

3. Take action – when something is upsetting you, decide what you need to do to change your situation and then do it.

4. Enjoy the moment. Sometimes happiness is not about doing, achieving or completing but just savouring that everyday moment in its full intense glory: the moment your baby falls asleep in your arms, enjoying a simple, wholesome meal, finding a passage in a book that has you crying big tears in a packed train, feeling the grass under your bare feet, being called mum, drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day.

5. Be the first to say sorry – forgive and move on.

6. Laugh with your sisters – no matter how miserable I have felt, spending time with my sisters, laughing, joking, making fun of each other, reminiscing and getting very, very childish helps me forget my troubles.

7. Be grateful – The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "He who does not thank people is unthankful to Allah." (Abu Dawud)

8. Be content - as I once red in a self-help, the source of which I cannot now recall “The blessings already are”, its up to you whether you choose to see them or dismiss them.

9. Serve others – doing so brings so much satisfaction and helps you to see there are others in tougher situations than you.

10. Look at those in worse off positions than you. I will always remember travelling to work whilst pregnant and being so fed up and feeling very sorry for myself when I saw an article in the paper about pregnant women in South Africa who had AIDS and were struggling to get medicines to prevent the disease passing to their babies. I never, ever felt bad about the fact I had to work through my pregnancies again.

11. Be gentle in your relationships – give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, be present with your children and discipline them with kindness, be patient with our parents and elders. People matter more than things – always. Sounds obvious, but think about it next time the kids break something or hubby leaves his stuff lying around.

12. Be enthusiastic – everyone loves a person with a good attitude, it’s contagious and it opens doors for you, because everyone wants a piece of you.

13. Do things for yourself – no-one likes a person with a martyr complex, and I think we all feel better doing things for others when we have taken care of our needs, perhaps we are in a better state to give of ourselves, when we have something to give. So, sometimes its nice to take stock, think about what we need or enjoy and then get some of it – whether that’s rest, some pleasure, a treat, wanting to look great or wanting to spend some time alone.

14. Play – every day. Men take their hobbies seriously – football, cars, golf, they make a business of it an their leisure time is important. Women too often dismiss their hobbies and interest and feel guilty about them. Make the time to play every day without allowing any guilt to creep in. Get your arts and crafts materials out, play with your beads, get your running shoes on or your camera ready and feel the satisfaction and creativity spill over into other areas of your life.

15. Keep learning – whether a new skill, a course, a qualification, reading non-fiction, self-help or personal development websites.

16. Review yourself – spend some time at the end of every day to review how you did that day – did you treat people, especially your family, in the right way, did you fulfil your obligations, especially to Allah (SWT), what could you have done better?

17. Be a giver – trust in Allah (SWT) to provide your sustenance. Give without worrying about how you will manage or what you will get in return. Have an abundance mentality

18. Under-promise and over-deliver – this is easy for me as many people take one look and assume I can’t speak English, let alone think I could be good at stuff! It’s great fun surprising people and challenging their stereotypes too.

19. Make dua (supplication) – no ask, no get.

20. Set goals and work to achieve them – there is a sense of satisfaction in working towards something that matters to you, often even more so than achieving it the goal.

21. Trust Allah (SWT) – if he wills something for you, then nothing can take it away, and if he decides something is not for you, everyone in the world put together cannot give it to you. I think knowing and accepting this brings a lot of peace into our lives.

Oh and one more I couldn't leave out - spend time in nature: in a meadow, on the beach, in woods, on moors. No matter how disinclines you are to get away from your creature comforts (me in particular), this one lifts your spirits and brings back the awe of Allah (SWT) that we should foster in our hearts.

What would you add to the list?

image source


  1. Salaam sister, this was great :-) Its pretty exhaustive me thinks but I'd add 'agree to disagree' and 'maintain respect even if you dont like/love' as well :-) Better get this framed and hang it in the room:-)

  2. I loved this post. Points 4,11 and 16 especially resonated with me. I don't know why, but I felt kind of sad after reading it. I guess it just made me realize how much I have and how much I still complain about. Thank you soo much for this. I'm going to bookmark this and keep coming back to it.

  3. Jazakallah khair! This was beautiful. I'm supposed to be getting some work done (at home, I just put my son down for a nap), but I'm glad I took some time for #13 today :)

  4. As-salaamu'alaykum sis,
    What a wonderful list!!
    Jazaki'Allahu khair.


  5. wow this list really got me thinking.