Contentment is the Antidote to Anxiety
Psychologists trace the best part of worries and anxieties we sustain to lack of contentment. Triggers of this contentment deficiency syndrome are infinite-one may not always get what he wants, and even if he gets it, he still might not feel the satisfaction he anticipates. Not only that, even when one gets what he wants, he continues to harbor feelings of fear and worry that these gains might slip away from his hand. So anxiety, whether natural or pathological, is a fact of life. Natural anxiety, also called healthy anxiety, is essential for life, or, to be specific, life is meaningless without it, for when we lack this type of anxiety, we succumb to spiritual and emotional dullness.
And life, to be sure, is rife with concerns:
relationship difficulties, work inconveniences, peer pressure, stress from unfulfilled expectations, grief, you name it. All these are situations that plant worry in one's heart; they may cause one to lose sleep, blunt one's appetite for food, or renders one cranky -exploding in rage for the least irritation. But then comes a time when theses worrisome feelings go away and we bathe once more in the cool pool of tranquility and satisfaction endeavoring to make the best out of this respite before worry assaults again-welcome to life! Pathological anxiety, on the other hand, is ambiguous and saddening because it derives from fear, fear of an indefinite thing. The victim of this condition starts to sustain high blood pressure, tachycardia and feel as if something inside him is dashing downward; and soon he or she starts shuttling hysterically between this and that clinic complaining to doctors of stomach ache, bloating, headache, etc. Yet, it remains that his complaints have no organic basis whatsoever, rather, they are rooted in inorganic causes like worry, fear and inability to adapt to life.
Now, what should a Muslim do in the face of all this?
The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Do not allow worldly concerns to tyrannize over you, for whoever makes this life his major concern, Allah will increase him in worries and place poverty before his eyes; and whoever makes the Hereafter his utmost concern, Allah will set his affairs aright for him and plant content in his heart. And whoever turns to Allah wholeheartedly, Allah will turn the hearts of His servants toward him (with love and compassion)." (Baihaqi) This Prophetic directive is meant to impart tranquility in one's heart and to root out from it covetousness and desire for things material.
Also, the recommended list of worry's antidotes include consenting and submitting to Allah's will and decrees, showing patience in the face of ordeals, hoping for Allah's reward, and believing firmly that His aid and relief is near.
Grumblers cannot taste happiness because they are caught in the clutches of despair. But those whose faith is solid bask in the light of certainty and hope. They trust in Allah and are always relaxed, because they know that: "No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before we bring it into existence: that is truly easy for God: In order that you may not despair over matters that pass you by nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For God loves not any vainglorious boaster." [57:22-23]
Dr. Hassan Shamsi is a contributing writer to Al JUMUAH MAGAZINE