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The Missing Ingredient: Gratitude


By Fareed Ahmad

Stephen R. Covey, in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, compares the concept of Character Ethics with Professional Ethics.  He stresses that in order to succeed in the long term, a person must focus on enhancing his character ethics, rather than merely his professional ethics.

Character ethics cover several aspects of a person’s thinking and behavior.  A man with a strong character is likely to succeed in the long term; whilst one who has countless character flaws will eventually flop, although he may flourish in the short term.

Today, we see several people who are apparently doing well in their private and professional lives, but they are actually very unhappy and unsatisfied.  We see owners of multi-national firms, seven-star hotels and huge factories, earning millions of dollars, but taking anti-depressants to escape their feeling-low syndrome.  These people lack one key ingredient of a sound character and a strong personality.   That missing ingredient is: Gratitude.

On the other hand, we also find people living in slums, yet enjoying life, having a sound sleep, and a cheerful countenance.  We also see middle-class people, who are highly satisfied, and leading a purpose-driven life.  This is because their life has an abundant sprinkling of the valuable ingredient: Gratitude.

In life, you`ll find such people that even if they are given mountains of gold, they won`t be happy or thankful.  You’ll find students crying on their result days, despite achieving distinctions.  You’ll see wives forever complaining, no matter what their poor husbands do for them.  These are the people who can never get the recipe for a happy life correct.  They keep on messing it up because they lack the vital ingredient: Gratitude.

Here’s a comparison between a grateful person and an ungrateful person:
(The readers can see for themselves which prototype they are closer to.)

A grateful person always counts the blessings of Allah; an ungrateful person counts the trials facing him.

A grateful person is always happy; an ungrateful one remains gloomy and depressed.

A grateful person makes peace with his past; an ungrateful person always mourns and laments over his past.

A grateful person attracts people through his/her pleasing and charismatic personality; an ungrateful person irks people through his bitter countenance and perpetual complaints.

A grateful person, when stuck in tough or hard situations, is patient and prays.  He looks for the hidden blessings in every situation, and is thankful that the situation is not worse.  An ungrateful person has victimhood mentality, and may even pray for his death or commit suicide when the going gets tough.

A grateful person has a positive attitude towards life; whilst an ungrateful person always thinks negative of himself and of others.

A grateful person rejoices at every little blessing; an ungrateful person disregards even huge blessings and takes everything for granted.

Being grateful to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the quality of true believers, that makes them successful in their private and public lives.

Numerous Quranic verses talk about this quality.  Here are two worth pondering over:

“..Whoever is grateful profits his own soul..” (Surah Luqman, ayah 7)

“..If you are grateful, I`ll add more favours on you; but if you show ingratitude, truly my punishment is terrible indeed.” (Surah Ibrahim, ayah 7)

Is the cocktail of your life lacking the ingredient of gratitude? Add some; it will only get better!

The writer can be reached at

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