Beating the blues with Shukr
I look at the mirror and sigh deeply. Looking back at me is a twenty-something woman with bags under her eyes, a pimple (ever-so-unbecoming) under her lip, and a bad hair day. I click my tongue in disapproval at the image in front of me and mentally calculate the pounds I would like to lose. Nothing seems to make sense, including that pile of work I should actually have been doing rather than check myself out in the mirror. Oh dear. It’s going to be one of those days.
I’m sure, like me, many of you must have had those wretched days when nothing seems to go right and every undesirable and unflattering attribute resides within the confines of our minds and bodies. For the lucky and mentally strong people this becomes a passing phase which is conquered before it gets cumbersome. For the rest of us (self included) this ugly feeling of negativity about ourselves and our lives lingers for too long and before we know it, it creates a strong foothold within our hearts and minds.
Soon we begin comparing ourselves in n unfavourable light to just about anyone. At times unknowingly, at times knowing full well, we begin to put ourselves down. Now I am hardly the one to be telling you what should be done and what shouldn’t be (given my deplorable record with self-acceptance) but I’d like to present an idea that helped me deal with a lot of problems: SHUKR.
Yeah. Thankfulness. You might ask why and how thankfulness has anything to do with all of this stuff. Well, the answer is simple. Our minds, our hearts, our bodies do not belong to us. They are in fact, a gift from Allah. And when we abuse ourselves, by putting ourselves down, we are actually showing discontent and ungratefulness with Allah’s creation! It hurts Allah, (who loves us seventy times more than our Mom)- when we don’t like who we are. Imagine, if your son always thought himself an incapable douche-bag, despite being quite loaded with potential – wouldn’t that hurt you?
In the same way we are at a very high level of thanklessness when we tell ourselves we are just not good enough. And believe me, there are days when we feel simply inadequate when compared with others. The reason Shukr or thankfulness becomes all-important here is because Allah says in the Quran:
‘Wa La In Shakartum, La Azeedannakum’
Be thankful to me, and I will give you more. (Ibrahim 14:7)
Wow. It’s that simple. Unlike men or jinn Allah SWT never lies and His words can be accepted as the ultimate truth. Take a moment to let the power of his majestic words wash over you, soothe your fears and give you answers. Now lets put the words in context. Does that mean if I lose 0.5 lbs when I wanted to lose four, I don’t crib about it? Like, if I say, “Thanks Allah!” and am truly grateful, I’ll start losing more? I get a job that doesn’t pay well, and say thanks to Allah – and watch how Allah keeps his promise? Yup. That’s exactly what it means. But please don’t take my word for it – try it out for yourself.
And you’re not only gaining in a worldly way, you’re actually also making Allah happy and our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was more thankful than any of us can ever hope to be!
‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported:
When Allah’s Messenger [SAWS] occupied himself in the prayer at night, he observed it with such a extended qiyam (posture of standing) until his feet were swollen.
‘A’ishah said: “Allah’s Messenger, you do this in spite of the fact that your earlier and latter sins have been forgiven for you?”
He [SAWS] replied: “‘A’ishah, should I not prove myself to be a thankful servant of Allah?”
Who knows – a smile of shukr in the face of adversity might be the one thing that Allah forgives all your sins for. And that’s not all. When we crib and complain about things (or ourselves) we are in turn imposing upon ourselves a very negative state of mind. Shukr can suddenly make you positive, help you see the glass half-full rather than half-empty and it’s no secret that optimistic people are usually successful and make much better company than someone who is always whining. So I sign off with thanking each and every one of you who took the time to read this piece!