Count your blessings

In Sura Ibrahim (14:34) the Quran says: If you count the favors of Allah you will not be able to number them

As human beings we have the tendency to take our good fortune for granted and pay attention when things get tough. Going through tough times and challenges often results in us having tunnel vision: our focus narrows only to what is NOT going our way and we fail to notice things that are working as they should or are in fact working for our benefit. It is useful to remember that no matter how bad things may seem at a given time, as long as we are breathing there is more right with our lives than wrong, although the wrong may be capturing our attention to a greater extent.

This verse reminds us that while what is going wrong can often be counted on the fingers of one hand, the Blessings and gifts of Allah cannot be enumerated even if we tried.

Scholars explain that the reason we cannot count His favours is because:

– The blessings are so all-pervasive that it is difficult to recognize them. We especially tend to take those favours and blessings for granted that are common to all, such as the shinning sun, the beauty of spring, the blessing of rain to rejuvenate the earth, to name a few.

– There are so many blessings encompassing us that it is not possible to count them. As we are told, if we would use every means of recording and would exhaust ourselves in the recording, it would still not be possible to enumerate the Blessings of Allah.

– There are many blessings that we don't even know about, hidden things that are slowly being discovered over time. Hidden blessings may be in the form of the workings of nature, such as the perfection of the workings of the human body, which only reveals itself as science progresses. Blessings can also be hidden from us because our attention is not directed towards them or because our vision is so limited that we do not consider a blessing to be such because we don't understand it.

What this means is that while focusing on troubles is often automatic, counting our blessings may take a little more intentionality. Such intentionality, however, pays off in major ways since counting our blessings plays a very important role in our mental and emotional wellbeing. Among other things, focusing on blessings:

1) Connects us to Him. When we appreciate His blessings, we appreciate Him. Our love for Him grows.

2) Helps us keep a balanced perspective of our life even when we are in the midst of challenges. It keeps hope alive by directing attention to what is good and positive.

3) Certainly helps us be more pleasant company! It is much more pleasant to interact with somoeone who sees the bright side than a complainer!

4) Helps us handle difficulties in life by building resilence. Being grateful makes us emotionally stronger and helps in coping with problems in life.

5) Counting our blessings builds neural pathways in our brain which makes it easier to think positively. Current neuroscience explains how directing our attention can resculpt our brain and rewire our neurons to reprogram our thinking and our feelings. (More on that another time inshallah!)

How: It is immensely helpful to develop a daily practice of gratitude where we are intentional in bringing to mind blessings and allowing a feeling of gratitude to develop in our hearts. This simple practice has unimaginable benefits for our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

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