Cultivating Gratefulness

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

When is the last time you woke up in the morning with the first thought in your head being “alhamdulillah” (all praise to God)?

What about when you went to sleep last night – did you thank God for living through another day?

I was watching The Blind Side (2009) with my friend the other night, and it really hit me how differently each of us views hardship. While I’m worried about making my next apartment rent, other people have never even had the opportunity to rent an apartment. I’m debating buying a new pair of boots for this winter – while other people would be thankful for just one pair of shoes to wear. I may be secretly dreading making time for the next salah, while another sister is weeks into her postpartum time dreaming of prostrating herself in the formal prayer again.

The way we view hardships translates directly into what blessings we have. Because we’re accustomed to a certain way of life, anything that makes that way of life less comfortable appears to us as a hardship. When we take a step back and look at the bigger picture and realize that our hardship would be seen as a blessing for someone else, it can make us more appreciative of what we have. As with the example of shoes, I viewed it is a hardship that I had to purchase another pair of shoes, while someone else would be ecstatic to own a single pair.

Often, we get caught up in our daily lives – work, class, friends, and getting that new cell phone. Where do we take the time to count the blessings that we have? We’re so busy with what we think we need, when we forget about the absolute most basic essentials of life. Do we have food on our table? Do we have a place to sleep tonight? Do we have access to the technology that we’re using to read this post? We are so privileged in so many ways that we don’t even remember what our blessings are.

Today is a national holiday in the United States – Thanksgiving. While I have chosen to refrain from outward celebration of this holiday in that it celebrates the ethnocentric conquering and destruction of communities, lives, and cultures, I can simultaneously appreciate what the holiday is supposed to represent. When a family sits down together, taking time out of their busy lives to individually go through and express their gratitude for the blessings they have received over the past year, I think it serves as a powerful reminder of how much we do have in our lives.

Join me in thanks – what are you grateful for?

Alhamdulillah, I have a roof over my head.

Alhamdulillah, I have the ability to work to pay for my basic needs.

Alhamdulillah, I have two legs and two feet that transport me where I need to go.

Alhamdulillah, I have two hands in which I can type this message to you.

Alhamdulillah, I have two eyes to read the gain knowledge.

Alhamdulillah, I have found Islam.

Alhamdulillah, I live in a country that has freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution.

Alhamdulillah, I can walk outside in my city with relatively no worries for my safety.

Alhamdulillah, for every little thing in my life that is an overlooked and underappreciated blessing.

Alhamdulillah.

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