We are all searching for happiness. But we live in an age where things like satisfaction and materialism are often seen as interchangeable for authentic happiness. We feel entitled to the best of absolutely everything. We want the best partners, the best jobs, the best homes – but what are we giving up to achieve these things? Our morals? Our better judgement? Other paths to genuine happiness?
What really is happiness anyway? Is it a type of freedom? Is it a privilege? A right?
To answer this question I looked to one of the best sources we have here on earth – the word of God. I believe this is the best way to find a logical explanation (and possible path) to happiness that would steer us away from the usual selfishness involved when trying to attain that ever elusive feeling. Here’s what I was able to gather:
Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, “Riches does not mean having a great amount of property; real wealth is self-contentment.” Hadith quoted from Sahih Bukhari Book 81, Chapter 15. Narrator Hazrat Abu Huraira (r.a.)
Relating this to real life situations and experiences, I can think of at least ten people who lead bombastic lives only they’re actually miserable. They are simply not self-content. The more they have, the more they desire. It’s like an endless chase to happiness that can only promise a grip of short-term happiness.
2. Spiritual happiness
Spiritual happiness is genuine happiness. To understand this, one must first distinguish between temporary emotional excitement and long-lasting spiritual happiness. Emotional excitement can grant some level of happiness but it is surface at best and often derived from attainment. We attain a thing or the affections of a person and that makes us happy. But this happiness is short lived as it is dependent on something outside of ourselves.
Spiritual happiness is an inward state. It comes from being at peace from the inside and extending it to your outer life. The source of this peace is the relationship between you and God or your God source – depending on your faith walk. The closer you are to that entity that more peace you draw into your life, the more sustainable happiness is available.
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” – Quran, 13:28 – Surat Ar-Ra’d
“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” – Psalm 144:15
3. Happiness from Service
We hear a lot about giving of our time. We are constantly being called out to contribute, to give to charity, to spend time in public service. Can this bring us any sort of happiness? Well it’s certainly been proven that it is a road to happiness. Putting others first (within reason) can often be used as another way to attain inner peace.
To give to those without, puts into perspective how much abundance we already have. Take for instance, zakat – the giving of a percentage of your income to charity. Maybe parting with some of your money doesnt make you feel instantly excited, but take a moment to think about that how that money could be positively impacting the life of another. Your contribution, be it small of large, could be feeding a family, providing school supplies, or easing the burden of someone’s tuition. By committing a selfless act not only are you creating a sense of peace for yourself, you are spreading that peace of mind to others. Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way, am I right?
A selfless act will bring out your peaceful side and engage you to your surroundings. It will also develop a sense of social responsibility and empathy within you. Something good will come out of your kindness, that’s for sure.
So let this be the nudge that inspires you to take part in some servicing acts like:
- take an hour to visit an animal shelter
- donate to a cause you care deeply for
- cook your neighbors a homemade meal
- actually listen when your friend is sharing his/her problem(s)
- call your grandma
- offer to babysit your nephew
Big or small, the intention is the same – to benefit and serve others without expecting anything in return. And don’t forget about your zakat!
4. Acknowledging the Root of Your Blessings
We talked about being abundant enough to share with others, but where does that abundance come from? Whether it be the blessing talent, money, beauty, or resource – everything that we have comes from the same source. That is God, in case you haven’t been paying attention. Acknowledging this source is to create a happiness and an appreciation within ourselves.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8
To feel the blessing of abundance and to know from whence it came is to bring the spirit of gratitude into your life. Gratitude is so important because it stops us from pursuing the happiness that comes fro attainment. If we are grateful for what we have we are not constantly seeking the next shiny new thing.
What I learned from my research, from Quranic verses to Biblical scriptures is that there is such a thing as real happiness. Happiness that may not necessarily last forever and ever, but a happiness that comes from an endless renewable resource if only we could remember to tap into it. As the bible says, “. . .Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” – Psalm 30:5.
To be happy is to know that no matter what, the shout of joy will come in the morning because you are content with your decisions and believe in the path in which you follow. But above all else it comes with the remembrance that no matter who you are or what you’ve done you are worthy and deserving of true and genuine happiness.