The Choice within You- Developing a Positive Attitude October 9, 2006Posted by humairah in Skills Development, You.
Before Islam, the Companions led a miserable, ignorant life. The change effected by the Qur’an in their life testifies to its power of change and reformation. Those poor, insignificant, barefooted desert dwellers were reshaped into new beings; their ambitions were elevated to sublime goals; and their hearts were raised and attached to Allah.
Their souls were changed and, therefore, Allah’s promise came true: Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition- Qur’an: Ar Ra’d 13:11.
Motivational writers such as Norman Vincent Peale have been telling us for years that a positive outlook can make people more successful in life. According to research conducted by psychologists in the late ’80’s, good health and the ability to overcome stress are also linked to a positive attitude.
What is attitude? On the surface, it could be described as the disposition we display to others. Elwood N. Chapman, author of Attitude: Your Most Priceless Possession, claims, “Attitude is a mind set. It is the way you look at things mentally.” He goes on to observe, “A positive attitude is the outward manifestation of a mind that dwells primarily on positive matters.”
Attitude is contagious. A positive attitude gives energy to you and to those around you. On the other hand, a negative attitude drains your energy and the energy of those with whom you come in contact.
Elwood N. Chapman uses the analogy of a camera. “Think of attitude as your mental focus on the outside world,” he says. “Like using a camera, you can focus or set your mind on what appeals to you. You can see situations as either opportunities or failures. A cold winter day as either beautiful or ugly. A departmental meeting as interesting or boring.” He goes on to say, “Quite simply you take the picture of life you want to take.”
So how do you go about developing a positive attitude? It’s all about the choices you make.
Choice #1- Evaluate your present attitudes
Self-evaluation is not an easy task, yet it’s the most important route to self-discovery. Identify and write down problem feelings, and then problem behaviours. Identify problem thinking, because we are the sum of our thoughts. What controls your mind? Clarify Qur’anic thinking. What does the Qur’an teach you about your attitudes?
Choice #2- Realize that faith is stronger than fear
Understand that Allah (swt) sees your problems. When things are going well, we feel we do not need constant assurance that Allah is with us. But during difficult times, we are in need of security. Allah SWT tells us in the hadith Qudsi that if you take one step towards Him that he will leap towards you.
Ask Allah for a filling of confidence and love that is greater than fear. John Maxwell, author of The Winning Attitude wrote, an effective way to experience less fear is to have more courage. Usually both positive and negative are at work in our lives at the same time. So possess positive emotions and seek positive reinforcement that are stronger than negatives.
Believe that Allah is working a miracle in your life, because nothing is impossible for Him. Place the changes you seek in attitude, thinking and behaviour at the top of your prayer list. Ask Allah (swt) to help you do what is possible to bring about effective change. Then ask Him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
Choice #3- Write a statement of purpose
Do you shoot the arrow and draw your target around it, or do you aim for the target? Sadly, many people approach their lives like Charlie Brown shoots arrows. They never draw a target so they never miss their goal. But they never really hit one either. Sometimes driving an hour to a bowling alley to shoot a 16 lb ball for 10 pins makes more sense than what you do at work because at least your goal is in front of you when you’re bowling. That’s why you need to begin with writing down a clear statement of purpose. It may take several drafts. Write specifically what you desire accomplish each day. From the story of Prophet’s Dawud’s encounter with Galut in the Qur’an, we learn a lot. What are the giants you must slay to make your attitude what it needs to be? What resources will you need? Take actions on what you write and verbalise what you wrote each day.
Choice #4- Have the desire to change
Often we change only when a huge boulder is headed our way. However, no choice will determine the success of your attitude change more than desiring to change. You have to exit your comfort zone. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said in one of his sermons, ‘Indeed what is left of your world compared to what already has passed of its existence is like the break of a traveller or the milking of a camel (i.e., a very short time). Therefore, for what are you halting? And what are you anticipating?’
Choice #5- Live one day at a time
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘O people! Indeed livelihood has been decreed and no human will exceed what had been decreed for him; therefore, seek your livelihood easily. And the span of life is limited, no one can exceed what had been decreed for him, therefore rush without delay to do good deeds before life is over’. There’s great comfort in knowing that what’s ours, is ours, and we can live free of worrying about what tomorrow may bring, or the consequences of what has passed. Therefore, live one day at a time!
Choice #6- Change your thought patterns
Two things must be stated to emphasise the power of our thought life. We can control our thoughts, and our feelings come from our thoughts. Conclusion? We can control our feelings by learning to change one thing: The way we think. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an, follow that which comes to you by inspiration from your Lord; for your Lord is well-acquainted with all that you do. Place your trust in God alone: for none is so worthy of trust as God- Qur’an: Ahzab 33-2, 3. Find fulfillment in what belongs to you, what is truth, and dwell your mind on excellence about you, and around you.
Choice #7- Develop good habits
The process for developing habits, good or bad is the same. The cycle to develop a good habit should be: Thought-> Meditated Thought-> Decision-> Action-> Continued Action-> Habit-> Attitude-> Thought.
When habits are hurtful, they damage your attitudes. List your bad habits and find their cause. Determine a positive habit, its benefits and results, to replace the bad one. Take daily action to develop this habit and reinforce it. In the end, do not forget to reward yourself!
Choice #8- Continually choose to have a right attitude
Abu Hurayrah narrates that Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘God’s blessings are for everyone, but a strong believer is better than a weak one. Wish for things which are beneficial to you, and in this, seek God’s help. Do not lose heart. If you are visited by misfortune, do not say, if I had done this or that, it could have been averted, because ‘if’ opens the door to Satan. The hardest thing about milking cows is, ‘they never stay milked’ observed a farmer. Similarly, attitudes often don’t stay changed. The initial stages are often the most difficult. Old habits die hard. You have to guard yourself mentally. Once new habits begin to take root, new challenges spring up. They have to be associated with the right choices. Finally, in the last stages, complacency can become the enemy. Just like dieting to lost weight, and then falling back into old eating habits and gaining it all back.
No one but you can determine what you will think, your growth and how you will act. Now take control and begin the exciting journey of attitude improvement.