The Holy Quran is the primary source of Islam. In this article I use “4 P’s” to reflect some of the Quran’s happiness wisdom: Purpose, Positivity, Patience, and Personal Responsibility
The Quran teaches that life is a test to see who will be “best in deeds.” This gives us a higher purpose for living. Doing good deeds naturally feels good too.
“Blessed is He…who has created death and life that He may test which of you is best in deeds…” (67:1-2)
The Quran describes the “steep path” to doing good:
“And what is the steep path? It is to free a slave, to feed at a time of hunger an orphaned relative, or a poor person in distress, and to be of those who believe and urge one another to patience and compassion.” (90:12-17)
Good deeds include freeing slaves, feeding the hungry, and spreading patience and compassion.
The Quran inspires us to put good works before material pleasures: “Wealth and children are the adornment of the worldly life, but the enduring good deeds are better…” (18:46)
Having this higher purpose motivates us to prioritize inner happiness, since feeling good results in good actions.
Focusing on the good and feeling thankful benefits you.
“…Whoever gives thanks benefits his own soul…” (31:12)
When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) experienced the tragic death of another child, Allah sent down a Quranic verse to console him with positivity:
“Indeed, We have granted you (O Muhammad), Al-Kawthar (a grand river in Paradise).” (108:1)
The Prophet was encouraged to focus on the positive during an immense loss.
Problems are opportunities to learn. The Quran teaches that the point of our growth in this world is to reflect and learn wisdom:
“It is He Who created you from dust, then from a drop of fluid, then from a tiny clinging form, then He brought you forth as infants, then He allowed you to reach maturity…so that you may reflect.” (40:67)
Look for the best in yourself. You don’t have to be perfect but you do have positive qualities.
Allah looks for the best in us: “To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions.” (16:97)
The Quran teaches that problems are a part of life. The ideal response is patience: remaining calm when having to wait for something or deal with problems.
“We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But give good news to those who are patient.”(2:155)
Personally, many Muslims feel heartbroken about what is happening in parts of the Muslim world today. Innocent people are suffering, and my religion, which brings me peace and purpose and teaches respect for all life, is being misrepresented by criminals. These are times for patience, along with positive action.
Responding with patience enhances self respect as well as the ability to solve problems. Reacting with negative emotions actually exacerbates problems.
Also, we may dislike something that actually turns out to be good: “…It may be that you dislike a thing and God brings through it a great deal of good.” (end of verse 4:19)
We never know what positive outcomes may actually come from our problems.
Some people may feel guilty or ashamed when they are not happy. I encourage people to be patient with themselves. It is normal to feel down sometimes. It is important to accept that life is not easy. It is important to accept our feelings. Acceptance is the first step to positive change.
Patience is also an excellent choice for when we are not sure what to do. Waiting for things to become clearer is sometimes the best “solution” to a problem.
“So be patient with a beautiful patience.” (70:5)
The Quran teaches that we are responsible for improving our lives. We need to look within ourselves for our personal responsibility and solutions.
“…Surely God does not change the conditions in which a people are in until they change that which is in themselves… (13:11).”
In the Quran, Adam and Eve take responsibility for their mistake of eating from the forbidden tree:
“They (Adam and Eve) said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves..’” (7:23)
Shaytan, however, blames Allah for his situation:
“(Satan) said, ‘Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on your straight path.’” (7:16)
Personal responsibility is about recognizing our role in the story of our lives. It empowers us to create happiness from the inside-out.
One part of personal responsibility is managing negative emotions. Strive to discover your best “coping strategies”–ideas to calm down during stressful times.
Once, at a gathering, I met a woman who’d had a stressful week. Then, during our gathering, her employer called her and criticized her for a mistake she’d made. She became upset and tears formed in her eyes. She excused herself. After 30 minutes, she returned to the meeting, calm and collected. I told her that I was impressed by her ability to calm her emotions in a short time. She explained that she is usually able to calm down if she allows herself some time. It took courage for her to leave the meeting, calm down and then return. Many people may be ashamed to admit their vulnerability and leave when their emotions are taking a downturn. I think a lot of problems could be avoided if people had the courage to calm their emotions before interacting with others.
- Our higher purpose is to do good deeds.
- Positivity involves being thankful, focusing on the good, learning from problems, and looking for the best in ourselves.
- Patience is necessary because problems are a part of life.
- We must take personal responsibility for our lives and emotions.
Related Video: Finding Inner Peace