Columns's Our Families

June 2002

5 Pointers for Living a Happier Life

by Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

Three joyful boys playing

Happiness essentially means a state of well being deep inside and outside of us. Since it is a state of well being, the fact that we are either happy or unhappy affects us both mentally and physically, irrespective of our likes or dislikes. As Muslims, most of us have reached the point where we are at peace within ourselves but that does not necessarily mean we are happy as individuals. Though we may be at peace with ourselves, there are other factors that affect our lives in positive or negatives ways, like it or not. And then, there are others who go through life depressed, looking for their answers in all of the wrong places, sometimes reaching a certain level of happiness, only to find it is very superficial and short lived. A lot of literature deals with a change in the superficial aspects of our lives thus leading to only a superficial change in our happiness, a temporary state that may last a short while. But the deeper issues are still there, lingering and disturbing our minds.

In our pursuit for the bigger, better and easier things in life, its not uncommon to forget the more basic and essential issues that are truly worthy of our attention, that when dealt with in healthier ways can actually translate themselves to highly effective and lasting solutions to the problems we have. Happiness is not just a state of mind, maybe to a certain extent it is, but we have to understand that it is important to deal with a problem from its root if we must deal with it at all; because it is only then that we will successfully solve that problem. InshaAllah!

Pointer # 1: Acknowledge your Creator

Acknowledgement does not only mean acceptance of the fact, that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is your Creator and the Creator of all of mankind, but actually working on building a bond between the Master and the self as the servant, truly embracing Islam in the sense of submission of the whole being to none other than Allah, and then translating the mental aspect to a physical one, in the form of Obedience. This also includes sincerely working towards worshipping Him in the manners prescribed by Him and then, gradually towards removing all the haraam actions or factors in one's life and replacing them with halal, in turn purifying the soul. Acknowledgement also means asking of Him and only Him and He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will surely answer, ask Him for guidance and indeed, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will guide you, ask Him for love and indeed, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will love you, ask Him for nearness to Himself and indeed, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is the One who hears us and answers. And if we have begun the process of true submission to Allah, that in itself is a sign that He is answering our prayers.

A smiling Muslim girl wearing hijab
"We all have a certain purpose in this life, and that purpose is very personal to each of us."

Pointer # 2: Recognize who you are and let your individuality grow.

Individuality is the true sense of who each of us really is, in this dunya. This means answering all of those questions such as:

  • "Why am I here?" or
  • "Why did Allah (SWT) create me?" or
  • "What will my life eventually lead to?"

We all have a certain purpose in this life, and that purpose is very personal to each of us. Being able to recognize that purpose and working towards it can be a challenge. If you know why you stand and where you need to go, you will surely figure out how and when. We go through life molding ourselves into what people want us to look like, when it shouldn't be that way, in fact it must not. We have to mould ourselves into who or what WE want to be or want to see ourselves as, rather than what the world thinks we should be. Being able to work through this issue will most certainly help us deal with a lot of personal frustrations.

Pointer # 3: Emotional Independence

This third pointer is more or less related to the second one. Emotional dependency is exactly like carrying baggage around with you; everywhere you go, hanging around with you in everything you do. It is heavy and painful over time - you always need a donkey or a camel or taxicab to carry it around for you. Being affected by what people say or think or even do, all translates to the fact that you are emotionally dependent. The aspect of emotional dependency is wider than just being affected by what people say, it's also living life with the thought that you can't live or exist without someone you love, that somehow you will cease to exist if that loved one is taken away or leaves, almost like another human is your oxygen.

Seeking to be emotionally independent may not be easy for many because it deals with the psychological state of mind and relations and how they translate love, but the farther you are from wanting to have a crutch all the time, the better. Deal with your insecurities and work on the higher aspects of life and InshaAllah, it shouldn't be too hard. In fact, you'll actually make life more livable even for the one who is your crutch.

Emotional independence is an important part of happiness.

Pointer # 4: Achieving Goals

It's important for all of us to challenge ourselves once in a while and succeed in those challenges because being an achiever is directly related to a heightened state of self-esteem. Having a balanced level of self-esteem is important for an individual to be a successful and happy. We often make dozens of resolutions throughout the year and fail to achieve most of them, if not all of them.

The trick is to make your goals realistic. The goals do not necessarily have to be easy but must be achievable. Be realistic. you understand your responsibilities in your life and you do know yourself, so work on more short-term goals that you can accomplish in steps, not leaps. This in turn will keep you motivated and enthusiastic on your task and the short-term results will even boost your sense of self-confidence, so you won't lose out on your motivation along the way.

Pointer # 5: Change your environment if you can't fix it.

Often we live around "elements" in our personal lives that affect us as individuals eventually, hampering our progress and weighing us down from success. If that is the case, it's time to seriously deal with those "elements". These elements are normally people, near or dear ones or even otherwise, and common issues are control and smothering. If that is so, it's time to sit down and have a serious talk with those respective people, if need be even set limits or give bottom lines. And if that does not work, work towards moving out to a healthier environment that is neither mentally nor physically taxing, provided you stay within the Islamic boundaries. Move to a place where you are allowed to grow and become what Allah has decreed you to become. InshaAllah!

An Extra Tip - Do something new each day. For example, if you take your car to work each day, try taking a bike instead. If you are blessed by Allah to have kids or even other children at home, join in their play. I don't mean join them by instructing and organizing - rather, let them instruct and organize and you play a part instead. Do something new and different! It will not only be fun and exciting, it will make you happier.

If things are really bad in your life, almost out of control thus resulting in depression, don't hesitate to ask for help. If you feel there is a problem in your life, then it does need to be looked into. Confide in someone you can trust and someone you feel you can open up to. Try to look for a Muslim counselor or therapist, someone who will work with you along the lines of Islam and the higher aspects of life.

We often have the solutions to our problems at hand, the only problem being we don't see the solutions, not because we can't but because we don't want to due to our fears. We choose to have all that we have in life, so if it's not healthy, it is because we made that choice, maybe a bad choice, but we made that choice and it's time to take responsibility for our actions. Work on achieving a deeper feeling of happiness, not just the superficial kind. The former will be more effective and will last longer. And of course, don't forget to make plenty of dua. Always remember, it is only if Allah wills that we can change our state and if don't ask Him, He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) won't grant us.

O Allah! Make all of our deeds righteous and make them purely for Your Sake, and do not let there be any share for anyone or anything else in them. O Allah! Turner of Hearts! Keep our hearts steadfast on Your religion. O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from divisiveness, hypocrisy, and evil character." O Allah! Make me from amongst those who will be blessed with the companionship of Rasullallah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) in the highest abode in Jannah.

Aameen. Allahumma Aameen.

Subhanaka `Allahumma wa bihamdika, wa `ash-hadu `an laa `Illaaha `illaa `anta, `astaghfiruka wa `atoobu `ilayka. (Glorified are You O' Allah and I am in Your praise, I testify that there is no deity except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You).

Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

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