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How to Transform Your Adversity into Opportunity

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

Coronavirus pandemic is creating havoc around the world. There is hardly anyone safe from the constraints or complexities of this pandemic. Nevertheless, I argued in my previous article, that the current situation is actually a blessing in disguise for a believer.  

Most people I talk to during this time are just complaining. It is even more important than ever to teach people that it is not the time to complain but to be reflectional and grateful. 

How often have we taken things for granted? Mundane things like going to the masjid, meeting our parents, shaking hands and hugging our friends and family have become an impossibility for most of us. 

It’s time for us to reflect on those blessings. Instead of taking them for granted, we should consider them as granted by Allah subuhanawuta’la out of His immense Mercy. And that simple change in our attitude will lead us to be more grateful. 

Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahumullah in his outstanding book, Excellence of Patience & Gratefulness, puts it so beautifully. He says that showing gratitude for the blessings of Allah subuhanawuta’ala is half of our faith

That’s the beauty of being a believer. He is grateful for his life, REGARDLESS of what happens to him. He knows that being grateful isn’t an option, but an obligation upon him.  

If you want to read more about gratitude, I would highly recommend you to read these three articles on my site: 

  1. 5 Undeniable Rewards For Being A Thankful Servant Of Allah
  2. How Practising Gratitude Can Make You A Better Person
  3. 3 Common Misconceptions Preventing You From Practicing Gratitude

In this article, I’ll discuss how being grateful can help you to transform this adversity into opportunities. 

Gratitude Works

In his brilliant book, “Gratitude Works“, Robert Emmons, who is the world’s leading researcher on the science of gratitude, says, “And this is what grateful people do. They have learned to transform adversity into opportunity no matter what happens, to see existence itself as a gift.”

So want to transform your current adversity into opportunity? Be grateful. That’s the one-line answer. 

If you want to know how gratitude helps to transform adversity into opportunity, then read the rest of the article 🙂   

#1: What you appreciate, appreciates 

When you practice gratitude, Allah promises that He will undoubtedly increase your sustenance and open up ways that you can’t even imagine. “If you give thanks, I will give you an increase” (Al-Quran, 14:7)

What else do you want then after this clear promise? 

In The Pursuit of Perfect, Tal Ben-Shahar tells us the exact thing from the scientific research, “when we appreciate the good in our lives, the good grows, and we have more of it. The opposite, sadly, is also true: when we fail to appreciate the good—when we take the good in our lives for granted—the good depreciates. “

So what you appreciate, appreciates! 

#2: Gratitude improves your mental health

In this challenging situation, keeping yourself sane is more important than ever before. If you can’t think straight, you certainly can’t make this adversity into an opportunity. 

So what’s the fastest way to improve your mental health? Practice gratitude. 

Being grateful to whatever your current circumstances are, provides you with a sense of optimism and hope. You can’t experience a negative feeling while experiencing a positive one. You can’t be grateful and pessimistic at the same time. So being grateful counteracts feelings of pessimism, fear, envy, anger, greed, and other states harmful to happiness. 

Listen to what Dr Emmons says in this book, “Gratitude Works“: 

Groundbreaking research has shown that when people regularly cultivate gratitude, they experience a multitude of psychological, physical, interpersonal, and spiritual benefits. 

Here are a few points which summarises what I have learnt from him:

  • Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. 
  • Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism.
  • Gratitude as a discipline protects us from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. 
  • People who experience gratitude can cope more effectively with everyday stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma-induced stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health.”

#3: Gratefulness leads to contentment 

A grateful person is content with reality. 

He doesn’t worry about the things that he doesn’t have control over. He leaves them to Allah’s Qadr (destiny). However, on things that he has control over, such as taking care of his health, managing his time – these things he should utilise fully. 

Robert Emmons continues to say that gratitude provides contentment, “All in all, science confirms that the life-giving practice of gratitude broadens our lives by enabling healing of the past, providing contentment in the present, and delivering hope for the future.”

So where does that contentment come from? By being thankful for the situation, despite its difficulties. 

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab radiyallahuanhu embodied this behaviour while reacting to calamities. He said,

“If Allah strikes me with calamity, I will thank Allah for four things:

  1. that the test was not in my deen (my religion)
  2. the calamity could have been worse
  3. it is an expiation for my sins
  4. any loss after losing the Prophet (PBUH) is nothing.

Gratefulness leads to contentment and contentment leads to peace of mind. Your peace of mind is inevitable if you want to transform your adversity into opportunity. 

#4: Gratitude helps us to do good  

Being grateful will not only help you to feel better at this challenging time, but it will nudge you to help others too. When you start to count your blessings, you’ll inevitably rush to help those who are less fortunate than you. 

And science confirms my opinion on this. Robert says, “Gratitude is important not only because it helps us feel good, but also because it helps us do good. Gratitude heals, energises, and transforms lives in myriad ways consistent with the notion that virtue is its own reward and produces other rewards.”

Our Islamic Scholars mention the same as the contemporary research that becoming aware of one’s blessings actually leads to having more to be grateful about. That, in return, helps us to do good to others. 

Now regardless of your situation, you can make a difference in yours and others life. Take a few moments to think about how you can transform this adversity into an opportunity. 

So, start with you first. Bring the list of things you always wanted to do – such as memorising the Quran, learning a new language, improving a specific skill etc. Then write out a plan, with how you are going to implement this in the next two to four weeks. 

Next, think about how you can have a more significant impact on others? How do you want to help others to make a difference in their lives? Start small but be consistent.

I would like to finish this article with a few points on how practising gratitude helps us to improve our overall life. This is again from the Gratitude Works book: 

 “Dozens of research studies with diverse participant groups have also revealed that the practice of gratitude leads to the following:

  • Increased feelings of energy, alertness, enthusiasm, and vigour
  • Success in achieving personal goals
  • Better coping with stress
  • Bolstered feelings of self-worth and self-confidence
  • Generosity and helpfulness
  • Improved cardiac health through increases in vagal tone
  • Greater sense of purpose and resilience.”

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