5 Steps Towards a Positive Attitude
Positive Results Require a Positive Attitude
As humans we encounter challenges on a daily basis; circumstances continue changing from good to bad, or bad to good – which creates both positive and negative emotions within us. Life is like a never-ending roller-coaster ride, bringing with it ever-changing ‘highs and lows’.
The lows may drive us to become despondent, pessimistic and lethargic if we are unable to remain positive and optimistic. How we view the challenges before us determines the state of our own world. We could become weary, unenthusiastic and cynical or develop a positive, optimistic and constructive attitude, to all that happens in our lives. We control our attitude, whilst our attitude controls our lives!
What is a Positive Attitude?
A positive attitude does not necessarily mean disregarding or ignoring bad situations; instead, it means remaining confident, active and optimistic that there is Divine wisdom in all that happens in our lives, even though we may not always be able to comprehend the wisdom.
A positive attitude entails having the will to find opportunity in adverse conditions and having confidence in your abilities. “If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. If we adopt a negative attitude, all things around us seem depressing, discouraging and frustrating. If we adopt an optimistic attitude, we attract positive energy which gives us hope, self-confidence and courage…”
We don’t see things as they are; we see them as WE are.
Steps towards a positive attitude are:
- Focus on solutions, not problems: All too often, the first thing we do when adversity strikes is that we focus on potential difficulties and problems instead of searching for solutions. If we remain fixated on the problems, it diminishes our ability to search for solutions. When 10,000 men assembled to wipe out the Muslims during the Battle of the Trench; an army probably greater than the entire population of Madinah, Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam focused primarily on finding a solution instead of mulling over the strength of the enemy, or how this could potentially wipe out the entire Muslim community of Madinah. Despite the looming siege, the small size of the Muslim army, the blistering cold and the darkness of the night, our beloved Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam remained positive; he immediately summoned his companions to look at possible solutions to a very exacting problem. He was so optimistic that even when Muslims were facing an ominous threat, he assured his companions that the empires of the world will eventually fall at the doorstep of Islam.
- Place your trust in Allah: When Nabi Musa Alayhis salaam fled Egypt with those who believed in him, he found himself trapped between the sea in front of him and the enemy led by Firoun behind him. His people were overcome with utter despair and helplessly gave up. There was certainly no way of escape anymore. They thought of only two possibilities: either drowning in the sea, or being slain by Firoun and his troops. “And when the two hosts saw each other, those with Musa said: Lo! We are indeed caught. He said: Nay, verily! My Lord is with me. He will guide me. Then We inspired Musa saying: “Smite the sea with thy staff; and it parted… ” (26:61) Allah opened the sea for Nabi Musa and his people; Musa did not look at his own capabilities, skills and abilities; but placed his unwavering trust in Allah.
Positive people do what is humanly possible, placing their trust in Allah and not in their endeavours. Negative people sit back, believing that they do not have what it takes, and wallow in self-pity, inaction and in victim-hood. “I am as My servant thinks of Me…” (Bukhari) Allah will treat you as you anticipate of Him. Ibn Hajar explains this to mean, “I am able to do whatever he expects I will do.” [Fath al-Bari]
- Remain resilient: Our likes and dislikes may not be in our best interest. “It may be that you hate something whilst it is good for you and it may be that you love something whilst it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” (2:216) Hardship and pain are not in vain, but rather to develop our resilience and make us better, and not bitter people.
You will never know how strong you are unless adversity strikes. It is through hardship that we grow to become stronger, better and wiser. Hardship shapes our courage and perseverance. It is from the womb of adversity that prosperity is born; victory comes with patience, and difficulty is followed by ease. When you choose to give in to the negativity, pessimism, and doom-and gloom, you are not only submitting to a loss of control and potentially wallowing in unhappiness – you are missing out on an important opportunity for growth and development. “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although there is good in each. Be desirous of that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘This is as decreed by Allah. He does what He wills.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaytaan.” (Muslim)
- Be Proactive: “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well, you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong, you will do wrong. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong if they do evil.” (Tirmidhi) Being positive requires an individual to accept responsibility for his situation (no matter how dire), and take the initiative to make things better. Take charge of the situation and act as best as you can instead of allowing yourself to become a victim of circumstances.
Negative people often view themselves as powerless victims whose lives are controlled by external factors. “Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance. Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”
- Turn to Allah: Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress; and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” (Abu Dawood) A person came to visit Hasan Basri and said: “I am poor and starving and have nothing to survive.” He advised him: “Make as much Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) as possible. Allah will lighten your problems. Allah is aware of all your anxieties, challenges and pain. Turn to Him, trust in Him and He will relieve you of all your distress and afflictions. He is the Best Disposer of affairs. He is our only refuge and shelter in times of crisis and distress.