With Ramadan upon us, we tend to use this month as a time for reassessment and refocusing our lives. We have a need for food and drink which we can quench when we break our fast. We get tired and hot or uncomfortable, and all this goes away the moment iftar greets us. These are our physical needs. What about our psychological needs, and how can we fulfill them to recharge our iman this Ramadan?
Spiritual motivation is an inherent aspect of our being and its success is our ultimate objective in life. People who are unable to fulfill the objective of spiritual motivation end up experiencing feelings of emptiness, anxiety, despair and pain. This can then compel people to reflect upon Allah (glorified and exalted be He), His creation and our purpose in life.
Motivation is generally defined as a need or desire that helps people energise their behavior and direct it towards a particular goal. Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has gifted humans with motives, and they are a fundamental component of a human being’s personality and behavior. “Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it]“ [Qur'an: Chapter 20, Verse 50].
The words “need” and “drive” are generally used to suggest that motivation is an internal force, while incentives are external. However, upon deeper reflection, one will find that it is needs that actually produce our drive in order to attain fulfillment.
Motivation is a Gift from Allah
As humans, we desire accomplishment in this life and the attainment of a high standard for both this and the next life, In sha Allah.
Motivation may involve a degree of competition, which is not a problem if we focus on the competition in the right manner. This kind of motivation is, in fact, a gift from Allah (glorified and exalted be He). “So compete with one another in good deeds. Where so ever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Indeed Allah is Able to do all things.” [Qur'an: Chapter 2, Verse 148].
The competition and desire to compete and surpass others is easy to relate to when thinking about matters of the dunya, but what about the akhirah? Well, it is much the same. We too should be racing towards forgiveness and seeking the pleasure of Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
“Race towards forgiveness from your Lord and a garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah, which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.” [Qur'an: Chapter 57, Verse 21].
In this month of Ramadan, how are you reviewing your life and reflecting on your motivation and positivity? Yes — motivation, positivity and dua. The three are interlinked!
Using Positive Dua for Your Well-Being & Others
Research shows that when you have a positive frame of mind, you are more likely to be positive in life and an uplifting attitude. Those around you will also become more positive just by being in your presence.
This is important because when you are in this halal competition of competing in good deeds, it’s good to remember that it’s not just about the physical achievements, but the psychological ones too. Giving charity during the month of Ramadan is a massive help, but don’t forget to make dua for people around you. The latter request is free, more powerful than anything in the dunya, and can lead to significant results.
Dua is not only a weapon of the believer, it is also a tool of well-being. If you make dua, your well-being improves. You become more caring towards others. Anas bin Malik (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “The supplication is the essence of worship” [Tirmidhi]; and Abudullah bin ‘Amr (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No supplication is more readily responded to, than the supplication made for someone who is absent” [Tirmidhi].
So why not make dua for people who you aren’t with and haven’t seen for a long time? Whatever it is you want, ask it for them too. So, for example, if you are seeking success in exams or to get married, remember others who want the same, make the same dua for them too, and then watch how your success comes, In sha Allah.
If you are technology oriented, try downloading one of these fabulous dua apps to bring more barakah into your life.
10 Things That Cultivate Positivity & Motivation During Ramadan
Now that we understand the deeper connection that positivity and motivation has with our spiritual productivity, let’s look at ten things you can do to cultivate your positivity and motivation, and increase your well-being during Ramadan.
- Counting your blessings:
Express gratitude for what you have (either privately through dua or journaling or to a close other) and ‘show’ your appreciation to others by making dua for them.
- Cultivate optimism:
Keep a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practicing to look at the bright side of every situation. This Ramadan, think of the best possible Ramadan you could have and then make it happen In sha Allah.
- Avoid over-thinking and social comparison:
Use strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems, and instead compare yourself to others who have less than you. This is also a sunnah. Then, be grateful for what you do have. Each day, say Alhamdulillah for simple things which you have been blessed with.
- Practice acts of kindness:
Do good things for others, whether friends or strangers, either directly or anonymously, and whether spontaneous or planned.
- Nurture relationships:
Pick a relationship in need of strengthening, and invest time and energy into healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.
- Do more activities that truly engage you:
Increase the number of experiences at home and work that are challenging and absorbing, and in which you can almost “lose yourself”. Practice this with reading Qur’an, listening to tafsir on your iPod or electronic device, and in sending salams on the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
- Commit to your goals:
Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devote the time and effort to pursue them. What are you going to change this Ramadan?
- Practice learning to forgive:
Keep a journal or writing a letter in which you work on letting go of the anger and resentment towards one or more individuals who have hurt or wronged you. Remember this act of forgiveness this Ramadan will bring even more reward, especially if you do it for the sake of Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
- Practice religion and spirituality:
Become more involved in your mosque. Read and ponder on the meaning of the Qur’an. Listen to a seerah audio. All of this improves your well-being. Be cautious however to not set goals so high, that they are unachievable and leads to stress.
- Taking care of your body:
Engage in physical activity and reflection. This includes smiling and laughing! Also, eat well and drink healthy drinks during the month.
Now, you don’t have to do all of these. Just pick three and focus on those. Try them out for a week and see how they work for you. Finally, remember, “And that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep.” [Qur'an: Chapter 53, Verse 43].
About the Author:
Saiyyidah is the first Muslim qualified Positive Psychologist, and she is also the only Muslim member of the WABC as a Certified Business Coach. Saiyyidah is currently an Arabic Intensive student in London and will be starting a Doctorate in Practical Theology alongside alimiyya studies in October 2013. Saiyyidah can be contacted at via email or on Facebook.