How to be Happy
Praise be to Allah.
of mind, contentment, happiness and freedom from worries and anxiety. These things are what everyone wants, and these are
the ways in which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy. There are religious means of achieving
that, and natural and practical means, but no one can combine all of them except the believers; although other people may
achieve some of them, they will miss out on others.
Here follows a summary of the means of achieving this aim for which
everyone is striving. In some cases, those who achieve many of them will live a joyful life and a good life; in other cases,
those who fail to achieve all of them will live a life of misery and hardship. And there are others which are in between,
according to what the means he is able to attain. These means include the following:
1 – Faith and righteous
This is the greatest and most fundamental of means. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Whoever works
righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily,
to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly
a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)” [al-Nahl
Allah tells us and promises us that whoever combines faith
with righteous deeds will have a good life and a good reward in this world and in the Hereafter.
The reason for that
is clear: those who believe in Allah – with sincere faith that motivates them to do righteous deeds that change hearts
and attitudes and guides them to the straight path in this world and the Hereafter – follow principles and guidelines
by means of which they deal with everything that happens to them, be it the causes of happiness and excitement or the causes
of anxiety, worry and grief.
They deal with the things that they like by accepting them and giving thanks for them,
and using them in good ways. When they deal with them in this manner, that creates in them a sense of excitement and the hope
that it will continue and that they will be rewarded for their gratitude, which is more important than the good things that
happen to them. And they deal with bad things, worries and distress by resisting those that they can resist, alleviating those
that they can alleviate, and bearing with goodly patience those that they cannot avoid. Thus as a result of the bad things
they gain a lot of benefits, experience, strength, patience and hope of reward, which are more important and which diminish
the hardships they have undergone and replace them with happiness and hope for the bounty and reward of Allah.
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed this in a saheeh hadeeth in which he said: “How wonderful is the
situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that
is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply
to anyone but the believer.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 2999).
The Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) told us that the believer is always gaining and the reward for his deeds is always multiplying, no matter
what happens to him, good or bad.
2 – Being kind to people in word and deed, and all kinds of doing good.
is one of the means of removing worry, distress and anxiety. By this means Allah wards off worries and distress from righteous
and immoral alike, but the believer has the greater share of that, and is distinguished by the fact that his kindness to others
stems from sincerity and the hope of reward, so Allah makes it easy for him to be kind to others because of the hope that
this will bring good things and ward off bad things, by means of his sincerity and hope of reward.
Allah says (interpretation
of the meaning):
“There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allaah’s
Cause), or Ma‘roof (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allaah has ordained), or conciliation
between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allaah, We shall give him a great reward” [al-Nisa’
Part of that great reward is relief from worry, distress, troubles, etc.
3 – Another of the means
of warding off anxiety that stems from nervous tension and being preoccupied with disturbing thoughts is to occupy oneself
with good deeds or seeking beneficial knowledge, for that will distract one from dwelling on the matters that are causing
anxiety. In this way a person may forget about the things that are making him worried and distressed, and he may become happy
and more energetic. This is another means that believers and others have in common, but the believer is distinguished by his
faith, sincerity and hope of reward when he occupies himself with that knowledge which he is learning or teaching, or with
the good deeds that he is doing.
The work with which he occupies himself should be something that he likes and enjoys,
for that is more likely to produce the desired results. And Allaah knows best.
4 – Another thing that may ward
off worry and anxiety is focusing all one’s thoughts of the present day, and not worrying about the future or grieving
about the past. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sought refuge with Allah from worry and regret,
from regret for things in the past which one cannot put right or change, and worry which may come because of fear for the
future. So one should focus only on the present day, and focus one's efforts on getting things right today. For if a person
is focused on that, this means that he will do things properly and forget about worry and regret. When the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) said a du’a or taught a du’a to his Ummah (community), as well as urging them
to seek the help of Allah and hope for His bounty, he was also urging them to strive to attain the thing they were praying
for through their own efforts and to forget about the thing which they were praying would be warded off from them. Because
du’a (supplication) must be accompanied by action.
So a person must strive to attain that which will benefit
him in worldly and spiritual terms, and ask his Lord to make his efforts successful, and he should seek His help in that,
as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the
help of Allaah, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such,
then such-and-such would have happened.’ Rather you should say, ‘Qaddara Allaah wa ma sha’a fa’ala
(Allah decrees, and what He wills He does),’ for (the words) ‘If only’ open the door to the Shaytaan.”
(Narrated by Muslim).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) connected the
matter of striving to achieve good things with the matter of seeking the help of Allah and not giving in to feelings of helplessness
which are a harmful kind of laziness, and with the matter of accepting things in the past which are over and done with, and
acknowledging that the will and decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass. He described matters as being of two types:
– Matters which a person may strive to achieve or to achieve whatever he can of them, or to ward them off or alleviate
them. In such cases a person must strive and make the effort, and also seek the help of Allah.
2 – Matters where
such is not possible, so he must have peace of mind, accept them and submit to Allah’s will.
attention to this principle will bring happiness and relieve worry and distress.
5 – One of the greatest means
of feeling content and relaxed and of acquiring peace of mind is to remember Allah a great deal (dhikr). That has a great
effect in bringing contentment and peace of mind, and relieving worry and distress. Allah says:
“Verily, in the remembrance
of Allah do hearts find rest” [al-Ra’d 13:28]
Allah (dhikr) has a great effect in achieving this aim because it has a special influence and because of the hope that it
brings of reward.
6 – Another of the means of bringing happiness and relieving worry and distress is striving
to eliminate the things that cause worry and to achieve the things that bring happiness. That may be done by forgetting about
bad things in the past which cannot be changed, and realizing that dwelling on them is a waste of time. So a person must strive
to stop himself from thinking of that, and also strive to stop himself from feeling anxious about the future and the things
that he may imagine of poverty, fear and other bad things that he thinks may happen to him in the future. He should realize
that the future is something unknown; he cannot know what good or bad things are going to happen to him. That is in the hand
of the Almighty, the Most Wise, and all that His slaves can do is to strive to attain the good things and to ward off the
bad things. A person should realize that if he diverts his thoughts from worrying about his future and puts his trust in his
Lord to take care of his situation, and puts his mind at rest concerning that, if he does that, then his heart will be at
peace and his situation will improve and he will be relieved of worry and anxiety.
One of the most effective ways of
dealing with worries about the future is to recite this du’a which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) used to recite:
“Allaahumma aslih li deeni alladhi huwa ‘ismatu amri, wa aslih
li dunyaaya allati fiha ma’aashi, wa aslih li aakhirati allati ilayha ma’aadi, waj’al al-hayaata ziyaadatan
li fi kulli khayr, wa’l-mawta raahatan li min kulli sharr (O Allaah, correct my religious commitment which is the foundation
of my life, and correct my worldly affairs in which is my livelihood, and grant me good in the Hereafter to which is my return.
Make my life a means of accumulating good, and make death a respite for me from all evil).” (Narrated by Muslim,
And he said, “Allaahumma rahmataka arju fa la takilni ila nafsi tarfata ‘aynin wa aslih li sha’ni kullahu, laa
ilaaha illa anta (O Allaah, for Your mercy I hope, so do not abandon me to myself even for a moment. And correct all my affairs.
There is no god but You).” (Narrated by
Abu Dawood with a saheeh isnaad, no. 5090; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, p. 49).
If a person utters these du’as, which ask that his spiritual and worldly affairs may
be set right or corrected, with proper presence of mind and sincerity of intention, whilst striving to achieve that, Allah
will grant him what he has prayed for, hoped for and striven for, and He will turn his worry into joy and happiness.
– If a person experiences anxiety and distress because of a disaster, then one of the most effective means of relieving
himself of that is to think of the worst scenario to which that may lead, and try to accept that. When he has done that, then
he should try to alleviate it as much as possible. By means of this acceptance and these efforts, he will relieve himself
of his worries and distress, and instead of worrying he will strive to bring about good things and to deal with whatever he
can of the bad things. If he is faced with things that cause fear or the possibility of sickness or poverty, then he should
deal with that by striving to make himself accept that, or something even worse, with contentment, because by making himself
accept the worst-case scenario, he lessens the impact of the thing and makes it seem less terrible, especially if he occupies
himself with efforts to ward it off as much as he can. Thus as well as striving to achieve something good which will distract
him from his worries about calamity, he will also renew his strength to resist bad things, and put his trust and reliance
in Allah. Undoubtedly these matters are of great benefit in attaining happiness and peace of mind, as well as bringing the
hope of reward in this world and in the Hereafter. This is something which is well known from the experience of many who have
8 – Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary things that bad thoughts may
bring to mind. For when a person gives in to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts, such as fear
of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the
loss of good things, that will fill him with worries, distress, mental and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which
will have a bad effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people have seen. But when a person depends on
Allah and puts his trust in Him, and does not give in to his imagination or let bad thoughts overwhelm him, and he relies
on Allah and has hope of His bounty, that wards off his worries and distress, and relieves him of a great deal of mental and
physical sickness. It gives indescribable strength, comfort and happiness to the heart. How many hospitals are filled with
the mentally sick victims of illusions and harmful imagination; how often have these things had an effect upon the hearts
of many strong people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to foolishness and insanity.
It should be noted
that your life will follow your train of thought. If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your spiritual
or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy. Otherwise it will be the opposite.
The person who is safe
from all of that is the one who is protected by Allah and helped by Him to strive to achieve that which will benefit and strengthen
the heart and ward off anxiety. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"And whosoever puts
his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him” [al-Talaaq 65:3]
He will be sufficient for all that is worrying him in his spiritual and worldly affairs. The one who puts his trust in Allah
will have strength in his heart and will not be affected by anything he imagines or be disturbed by events, because he knows
that these are the result of vulnerable human nature and of weakness and fear that have no basis. He also knows that Allah
has guaranteed complete sufficiency to those who put their trust in Him. So he trusts in Allah and finds peace of mind in
His promise, and thus his worry and anxiety are dispelled; hardship is turned to ease, sadness is turned to joy, fear is turned
to peace. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound, and to bless us with strength and steadfastness of heart, and complete trust,
for Allah has guaranteed all good things to those who put their trust in Him, and has guaranteed to ward off all bad and harmful
things from them.
If bad things happen or there is the fear of such, then you should count the many blessings that
you are still enjoying, both spiritual and worldly, and compare them with the bad things that have happened, for when you
compare them you will see the many blessings that you are enjoying, and this will make the bad things appear less serious.
al-Wasaa’il al-Mufeedah li’l-Hayaat al-Sa’eedah by Shatkh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sa’di
al-Qayyim summed fifteen ways through which Allah may dispel worries and regret. These are as follows:
1- Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah
(belief in the Oneness of Divine Lordship)
2- Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (belief in the Oneness of the Divine nature)
Tawheed of knowledge and belief (i.e., Tawheed al-Asma’ wa’l_Sifaat, belief in the Oneness of the Divine names
4- Thinking of Allah as being above doing any injustice to His slaves, and above punishing anyone for
no cause on the part of the slave that would require such punishment.
5- The person’s acknowledging that he is
the one who has done wrong.
6- Beseeching Allah by means of the things that are most beloved to Him, which are His
names and attributes. Two of His names that encompass the meanings of all other names and attributes are al-Hayy (the Ever-Living)
and al-Qayyoom (the Eternal).
7- Seeking the help of Allah Alone.
8- Affirming one's hope in Him.
Truly putting one’s trust in Him and leaving matters to Him, acknowledging that one's forelock is in His hand and that
He does as He wills, that His will is forever executed and that He is just in all that He decrees.
heart wander in the garden of the Qur’an, seeking consolation in it from every calamity, seeking healing in it from
all diseases of the heart, so that it will bring comfort to his grief and healing for his worries and distress.
15-Declaring that he has no power and
no strength, and leaving matters to the One in Whose hand they are.
We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound from worries and to relieve
us of distress and anxiety, for He is the All-Hearing, Ever-Responsive, and He is the Ever-Living, Eternal