Exercising Our Gratitude Muscles

It's been rather quiet here on the Sketchy Ummah blog, but ma sha Allah I've been doing some thinking, strategizing and a bit of note taking behind the scenes, so bi idnillah I'll be back with fresh content, new notes and perhaps some other exciting tidbits as we move in to 2015. In the meantime, I wanted to do a bit of a brain dump and share some things that were bouncing around in my head, that in sha Allah you'll find beneficial.

Lately, I've been listening to a few podcasts that have been really interesting, mainly centered around topics related to creative people in business, and general positive thinking. One of the topics that often comes up on these podcasts is the idea of practicing gratefulness regularly. It is said that gratitude is a practice, something that you have to consciously work on, and one way to do that is having a gratitude journal.

My oldest son will be seven in about two weeks, in sha Allah, and thus will be hitting the big Muslim milestone of starting to pray regularly. Up to this point he's prayed with us when he feels inclined, and imitated us, but I'm excited that this year we'll work on making it a more regular practice and really teaching him the components of salah, (using this resource among others) bi idhnillah.

It dawned on me today that perhaps practicing gratitude before praying 'Isha might be a helpful way for him to focus on what things he can thank Allah for during the portions of salah that he hasn't learned yet. Teaching  children to exercise their gratitude muscles has other benefits as well which you can hear about in the video below.

In fact, exercising our gratitude muscles is a practice that the whole family can benefit from. One of the early lectures that I took sketch notes on was Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan's tafsir of the seventh ayah of Suratul Ibrahim in which Allah states "...If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]..."

Even though I don't make New Year's resolutions, this is a natural time of year to reflect, reassess, and set new goals. Along with thinking about goal-setting, I've put a lot of thought lately into some of the topics covered in the Du'a roundup I published just before Ramadan. The point being that dreaming big/goal setting should be coupled with not just action but du' a.  One of the things that is encouraged when making du'a, before asking for what it is that you want, is to mention the blessings that Allah has already granted you. Getting in the habit before 'Isha of listing things you are grateful for (especially if you push yourself and don't always use the SAME 3 things " Let's see... my husband, my kids, my internet connection. Done!") gives you things to pull into your du'a fulfilling  the "if you are grateful..."

[UPDATE] I recently designed two worksheets to use with my son for practicing gratitude and making du'a you can read more about them and find the download links here


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