ISLAMIC THOUGHTS (SELF-DEVELOPMENT IN ISLAM SERIES-ARTICLE #3)

Islamic Thoughts: Practical Tips for Developing The Good Muslim Mindset (with a Free Cheatsheet)

This is the third article of the entire Self-development in Islam series. 

You can read the previous articles of Self-development in Islam series by clicking the links below:

 

So in the last article we talked about the 20 different types of Muslim Mindsets that exist.
In this article I want to give you very simple practical tips that you can begin applying from today so you can work on the weak areas of your mindset.

 

 

The tips I’ve mentioned below are proven and backed with plenty of studies. You can follow the ones that resonate with you and are do-able for you and chuck the rest. You certainly don’t need to follow all of them at one time as it can be quite overwhelming.

If you haven’t already done so, first find out the type of mindset you possess and the areas of your thought process that are weak.

To do that, note it all down in this free worksheet so you can have a clear view of the type of mindset you possess and the weaker areas of your mindset!

Also, you won’t be able to remember all the tips (as they are quite a few), so you may as well download this Cheatsheet I’ve created to summarize all the points for you. You can keep it with you and focus hard on one tip every week until you nail it!

Grab your FREE Cheatsheet!

Islamic Thoughts on GROWTH Mindset: 5 Tips for Developing the Growth Mindset

1. Continue Learning

Let’s get one thing straight. Knowledge is relative. The Absolute knowledge belongs to The One and Only God, Allah Almighty. So the people who think that they have “learned” everything or that they are quite knowledgeable and don’t need to “continue learning”,  they need to think again.

We should never assume that we don’t need any more of “applied knowledge” (I say applied knowledge because knowledge without application is pretty much wasted), no matter how wise or educated we are.

There’s ALWAYS room for more. A Muslim with a Growth mindset would never put an end to learning.

Allah says in the Quran: “And say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” 

[ Quran: Surah 20, Ayah 114]

2. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Get out of your comfort zone and set up challenges for yourself.

I know accepting challenges can be quite challenging :D. But what’s the fun in easy? You should view challenges as a path to personal growth, whether the growth comes with failure or success.

And who doesn’t like comfort zones? After all, they are pretty comfortable.

But if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone, you will stay in the exact same spot that you are in life.

Do you want to be more spiritual and get closer to Allah? You gotta get uncomfortable (Ibadah is difficult in the beginning of a believer’s journey until a point comes when it becomes a passion).

You wanna get better grades in school or become established in your career? Get uncomfortable. Stay awake till late and get up early to study/ work.

Everything you want in life is out of your comfort zone. [Robert Allen]

3. Learn to accept and embrace failure

Accepting failure does NOT mean you won’t be disappointed. That’s not humanly. You WILL be disappointed, hurt or even depressed.

But you will not let failure keep you from getting up after the fall and moving forward. Humans are designed to sin and fail. So take it easy on your humanly soul and don’t beat yourself up every time you fail.

Allah says in the Quran: “Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], although you had struck [the enemy in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.

[ Quran: Surah 3, Ayah 165]

In the above ayah, Allah is telling the Muslims who lost in the battle of Uhud that failure is a result of the lack of efforts or our mistakes. And every human makes mistakes. We need to accept failure as a part of life.

Therefore, we should have no reason to blame anybody and get up after each fall, rather than being miserable and stuck in our failures.

4. Accept and appreciate others.

As soon as you start accepting the achievements of other people, you will notice jealousy, hate and resentment towards others seep out of your system.

You will want to help others reach the same place where you want to be, rather than compete with them to reach there.

5. Accept negative feedback and constructive criticism.

You know what will make you grow like a tree on boosters? Accepting negative feedback and constructive criticism.

However, there’s one catch. You might end up losing every grain of your self-confidence if you listen too closely or too much.

Keep yourself open to receiving constructive criticism about yourself or your work, but also keep yourself away from unhealthy, non-constructive criticism that is coming from someone who’s jealous of you.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing the POSITIVE Mindset

1. Positive affirmations

The practice of affirmations is easy and do-able. Although there’s one thing to note while making affirmations; Make sure they are realistic and down-to-earth.

If you tell yourself everyday, “You are the most beautiful or the smartest person on planet Earth”, then you’re setting yourself up for either arrogance or lower self-esteem. 

How come?

Unrealistic affirmations tend to lower our self-esteem because our minds are naturally prone to “reasoning”. When the deductions made by your mind through reason don’t match with your affirmations, you mind will discard the affirmation.

2. Daily self talk: Replace your negative self talk with positive self talk.

I talk a lot about practicing self-talk daily. I’ve been personally doing it for more than 7 years now, Alhamdulilah. It is by far the most important part of the ME-time for me.

First of, if you don’t talk to yourself.. START talking to yourself!

I don’t mean talk to yourself loudly when people are around. That will freak others out. Trust me. I’ve done it. *guilty look*

For some reason, people think it’s crazy. #confused

Everyday spend a minimum of 5-10 minutes removing negative thoughts about others in your self-talk sessions. Organize your thoughts and say positive thoughts out loudly.

3. Find humor in bad situations (not every bad situation obviously)

Let me be clear- bad situations don’t mean the seriously sad situations such as disease etc. No laughing there, obviously.

But do you find it funny when people say really mean things to you that you can choose to be really sensitive about? Oh. You don’t.

Well, imagine yourself listening to mean things said to you by others and laughing in their face saying, “That’s a good joke” :D.  It would flare up the meanster and he’d probably be careful next time.

It’s time to start finding humor in not-so-funny situations. Laugh about it and shove it off. Nobody will be able to drag you down that way.

 

4. Smile to a pathological level. Your body, mind and others around you will thank you.

FUN MEDICAL FACT:  Every time you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, the happiness police (neurotransmitters) inside your brain. Your body relaxes. Your heart rate and blood pressure drop. You immediately feel positive.

Another really cool side-effect of smiling is- You LOOK better. Oh trust me, no matter how silly our smile is, we look more attractive, easy-going, relaxed, confident and happy as a person. Sounds like a treat to me! Here’s a smile from me to you 🙂

 

5. Find positive company.

Finally, when all else is not working too well, maybe there’s this one thing you are lacking. A company of positive-minded people.

Find positive company in your mentors, friends and family members. Stay close to people who radiate positive vibes.

Get away from people who constantly backbite, dump their negative thoughts on you and criticize everything in life.

They are going to suck the positive juice out of your brain. Seriously.

If they are in your family, then you need to be open about it to your close family and friends. Tell them to stop the negative talk. If they don’t stop, simply avoid conversations that ooze negativity.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 4 Tips for Developing the Grateful Mindset

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

If you have trouble remembering to be grateful regularly, then keep a journal that will remind you to do just that.

Say “Alhamdulilah” every time a good thought crosses your mind. Become one of the people of Alhamdulilah. Read Surah Fatihah with khushoo in your Salah.

 

2. Gratitude letters to Allah.

Write a letter telling Allah how grateful you are for everything He has bestowed upon you.

Tell Him how happy you are to have Faith, health, family, food, a roof over your head, Internet access to educative resources like this article 😀 and everything else in your beautiful life.

Pour your heart into that letter. Write a letter every time you feel ungrateful. Read your previously written letters when you are feeling ungrateful. You will see the change it brings in your life, guaranteed!

 

Allah says in the Quran: “Be grateful unto God – for he who is grateful [unto Him] is but grateful for the good of his own self; whereas he who chooses to be ungrateful [ought to know that], verily, God is self-sufficient, ever to be praised!” [ Quran: Surah 31, Ayah 12]

3. Stop taking things for granted. Show gratitude to your parents.

Telling Allah every day that you are grateful is gold. But you also need to tell your family members, friends and colleagues.

Chances are that there are people in your life that are doing so much for you, and you take it all for granted. Most importantly- your parents.

Thank your mom for the nice food she cooks for you, or your dad for driving you to the school. Be grateful. Be humble. Receive everything with gratitude.

 

Allah says in the Quran: “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” [ Quran: Surah 31, Ayah 14]

 

4. Contemplate, read news and look at the situation of the ones below you.

I learned a great tip from my younger sister, to keep on your phones an image or two of people who don’t even have the basic necessities in life or those who have really difficult lives.

So that it inspires you or brings a sense of guilt, pity, or sorrow thinking about the horrid things people are going through in life. Our forgetful souls need reminders.

 

Allah says in the Quran: “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” [ Quran: Surah 31, Ayah 14]

 

Islamic Thoughts: 4 tips for developing the PRODUCTIVE Mindset

I could go on FOREVER helping you with this one but I’ll keep it nice and short here since I’ll be writing more than one article on the topic of productivity and time management..

.. Annddd, there’s a FREE BOOTCAMP on productivity comin’ along your way, so you watch out for that a’ight? 🙂 If you aren’t on my mailing list, you better hop on now to know the moment it launches, eh? Sign up HERE. I’ll see you on the inside, InshaÁllah! 🙂

Let me at least give you some very important tips here:

 

1. Have a system of monthly, weekly and daily planning in place.

I can’t emphasize the importance of this one. I recommend monthly, weekly and daily planning.

But weekly and daily planning should be your two main concerns when it comes to following a system of planning.

You can download the system of DAILY planning I’ve been using for years. It’s integrated in this simple planner called The Muslim Productivity Planner. 

 

The Muslim Productivity Planner
2. Be aware of your brain tricks. It will fool you into over-planning.

It will convince you to put more on your plate than you can realistically complete. Don’t let the tricks fool you into over-planning.

That will only result in OVERWHELM. I recommend NO MORE than keeping 2-3 main priority tasks on your daily planner so you can complete them without feeling overwhelmed. Ofcourse you can do more than 3 but they should not be the “big and important” priority tasks.

 

3. Say no to many things and yes to some.

Keep pushing things off your plate until you have trained your brain to put no more than 2-3 priority tasks on your list.

Ask yourself after you are done with planning, “what can you take off your planner/ to-do list today?”

 

4.Review, track and record your productivity.

This is essential if you want to motivate yourself to do better the next day or if you want to feel a sense of achievement at the end of each day. And I’m guessing you do.

The Productivity Planner has a scoring area at the bottom where you write your productivity score. I’ve explained it all in detail on the first page of the planner. Grab yours below and start using it from today!

 

The Muslim Productivity Planner

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing the EMOTIONALLY RESILIENT Mindset

1. Express your emotions.

Don’t keep cooking your emotions inside yourself. Serve them in a silver platter. 😀

By expressing your emotions I don’t mean you should yell in anger. I mean if you are upset with someone, tell them that how you feel in a polite manner.

Have sit-down conversations with people who constantly cause emotional turbulence within you so that they can understand why you are feeling a certain way.

Understanding each other is the first step. And the key to a great understanding between 2 people is a healthy communication. This way your emotions won’t pile up inside of you creating a ball of negativity and resentment towards others.

 

2. Create an emotional or a physical space to breathe.

Sometimes you don’t even need to have long conversations with the other person to become emotionally resilient.

You either need to be quiet for sometime without forcing yourself to talk to others if you don’t feel like it (emotional space) or you need to create a physical space for yourself (a corner of your house etc) where nobody will disturb you.

When you are upset, sit or lie down in your space and relax/distract yourself. Your body will slowly release the negative emotions. When you feel better, you will be able to communicate normally without hurting others by saying or doing something under the influence of your negative emotions.

 

3. Forgive & Forget.

When you feel spiteful towards someone who has hurt you, do this one thing. Focus on one really good thing about that person.

A good quality, attribute or character of that person you are mad at. Focus hard until your heart is ready to forgive.

Forgiveness is a Supreme quality of Allah S.W.T. You will make Allah very happy if you can FORGIVE and FORGET.

 

Allah says in the Quran: “Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

[Quran Surah 24: Ayah 22]

 

4.  Redirecting the piled up energy into an activity you love.

Sometimes when the negative energy has piled up inside of you and is looking for a channel to release, you can redirect all of that energy into doing something you love. It’s really a win-win situation.

You will feel good by doing what you love and your energy will be released. For eg; you could cook something delicious, or paint etc (whatever you love) when you are upset, rather than lying like a dead bug thinking about it for hours.

My favorite activity is being creative and eating. 😀 That’s honestly what I do when I need to relax.

 

5. Let go of situations you can’t control and problems you can’t solve.

Ever felt trapped in your own mind trying to “fix” things only to realize you “can’t” really fix them? Things that are not in your emotional or physical capacity?

A small not-so-good example would be trying to fix the CSS code of your website when you are a doctor, and messing it all up. 😀 *guilty face*

I mean don’t get me wrong, you can learn any skill in this world you put your mind to but let’s face it- Is it worth it?

Is it worth your precious time to struggle with something that would take you hours or even days when you can outsource it to somebody who will do it in minutes? (unless you can’t outsource it)

Nope. It’s not worth it. You will only frustrate yourself.

This is just one aspect of letting go. Another aspect is letting go of the things from your past that drag you down.

Bringing those things up constantly will just bring you further down, specially when you can do nothing about them. Focus on the “NOW”. The current situations that you can actually “fix”.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing A GIVER’S Mindset

1.  Give quality time and attention to your family.

Your parents, children, husband etc all need your time, right?

But you can’t possibly give them more time than you have in a day, can you?

A better thing to do especially when you are crazy busy is to give them “QUALITY” time. An hour or two of full attention is better than 4 hours of being around them while constantly messaging on your phone. #21stcenturyproblems

 

2. Get in the act of daily give (really small and do-able).

Besides giving your family time, you should make it a practice of giving something to the creation of Allah daily. Remember that your time and money is Allah’s amanah to you.

Give  compassion, show mercy to the needy on the street by sharing your food with them, give a smile (hey, it’s sadaqah!), give money to the poor in your neighborhood, small gifts to your relatives/ friends, water to the plants or milk to the stray cats etc.

Give anything that you can easily give. Don’t make the process of giving so hard for yourself or else do you know what you will end up giving? GIVING UP, that’s what!

 

Allah says in the Quran: “They ask you, [O Muhammad], what they should spend. Say, “Whatever you spend of good is ]to be] for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveler. And whatever you do of good- indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” [Quran Surah 2: Ayah 215

3. When someone exclusively asks you for help with something difficult for them, say YES.

Remember we said above to say NO to extra things that take up your time?

That NO was for stuff such as social media, running too many errands, doing extra house chores, studying an extra chapter etc.

It WASN’T for people who ask for your help.

Don’t deny help to others. Say YES to helping others with anything that they ask for that would genuinely help them.

 

4. Give yourself  a treat and some ME-time.

Enough talk about giving to others! What do you think about giving a treat to yourself? 🙂 Exciting isn’t it?

In fact, I’ve been writing this article for 3 hours now so I’ll go give myself a food treat :D. Be right back!

…..

Okay, I’m back. Had a little noodle-with-soup snack. It’s raining cats and dogs here, felt like having a warm snack , Heheh.

Where were we?

Treating yourself. Why is it so important? So that you don’t burnout slowly and painfully by constantly giving others. ME-Time is quite important if you want to stay emotionally healthy while giving others.

 

5. Find a generosity partner.

Maybe your sister/ brother? Or friend? Or husband/ wife? Someone who willingly pairs up with you to give daily. Someone who can motivate you to be a giver.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing the CONFIDENT Mindset

An entire article dedicated to self-esteem and confidence will be coming soon in this series, so lookout for that! 🙂

 

1. Take your morning bitter self-acceptance pill.

Every morning make up your mind that you have to accept one insecurity by being brutally honest with yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself about your shortcomings or ignore them. Face them head-on.

Look at yourself in the mirror for a minute and say you accept one insecurity that you feel about yourself. It will be hard. You have been avoiding it. You don’t want to face it. But even so, DO IT.

Over time, it will become a “no big deal” to you or something that you will be able to talk about confidently with others.

 

2. Present the best version of yourself.

Don’t think of yourself as vain or conceited if you iron your clean clothes and dress up your best. (don’t overdo it though :D)

When you LOOK good, you instantly FEEL good about yourself. You can dress up however you like. As long as you stay within the halal limits, you’re golden.

 

3. Believe in self and belief in Allah.

Keep your insecurities in check by having a firm belief in Allah’s plan for you.

Allah created you in the best possible way and blessed you with a unique set of skills, traits and talents.

If He has given you something less, He has given you more of something else.

Find the “MORE” and focus on that. Work on your strengths and excel in them. But to do that you will have to first…

 

4. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
I talk more about that in this article.
You can also download the self-acceptance worksheet I’ve created for you below! (or if you have signed up already, it’s added to the MYP-library. You can download it from there)

 

 

Download you Self-Acceptance Worksheet!
5. Make Dua

(Moses) said: My Lord! Expand for me by breast (with assurance). And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. That they may understand my speech.’ [Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verses 25-28]

Another point to note is that when you are grateful, positive and purposeful, self-confidence follows naturally.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing A CONTEMPLATING Mindset

1. Understand your energy levels and contemplate accordingly.

Because contemplation can be mentally exhausting and empowering, you have to decide your energy levels before you begin contemplating.

You can’t expect yourself to contemplate on the deeper realities of life or the heavy lessons from Quranic Ayahs whilst you are struggling to stay awake. Understand your energy levels. 

 

2. Read less pages of Quran and contemplate more.

Don’t just read Quran for the sake of finishing a Juz. Reduce the number of pages you read daily and start applying whatever Allah says in the Quran to your personal life experiences. Relate to the lessons in Quran. They are all there for every one of us.

“[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses” [Quran: Surah 38: Ayah 29]

 

3. Tahajjud is a great time to do contemplation.

When you wake up for Tahajjud, you have already made a commitment to wake up to talk to Allah. Why not go a step ahead?

“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station,”

[Quran:  Surah 17: Ayah 79]

 

4. Recite a verse multiple times to understand its deeper meaning.

Recite a verse multiple times. When you repeat something over and over again, you are giving your brain repeated chances to understand it.

 

5. Let nature induce a deep thought process.

When you wake up for fajr, don’t sleep immediately. Go outside in the balcony, or garden of your house (anywhere you can go from where you can feel the air, see the trees, the birds and the sky.

Nature induces a comforting and contemplating response in humans.

When you experience the nature using all more than one of your senses (hear the birds, feel the air, smell the flowers, see the trees etc), your senses start feeding our brain with input.

The energy from that input can be directed by your brain to spark an active thought process (the contemplation).

As more of your senses get involved in experiencing the present, a greater amount of energy gets fed to your brain. As a result, the chances of your brain igniting a deep thought process also increase.

 

Islamic Thoughts: 5 tips for developing A PURPOSEFUL Mindset

The following is a brief ROADMAP to living a purpose-driven life. By no means is this a pathway that can guarantee you finding something in life that drives you and that’s aligned with your purpose in life as a Muslim. BUT, it will surely help you reach there in one way or more! InshaÁllah.

 

1. Understand the MAIN purpose of life of a Muslim mentioned in the Quran.

Allah asks us whether we think He created us without purpose?

“Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose) and that you would not be brought back to Us?”

[Quran Surah 23: Ayah 115]

He then tells us the answer Himself: Allah says, “I have not created men except that they should serve Me” [Quran: Surah 51, Ayah 56]

Allah also tells us the Ultimate purpose of creation of this world for us: “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is over all things competent. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire..”[Quran Surah 3: Ayahs 189-191)

2. Dig deeper into finding a career path that is aligned with the purpose of your life as a Muslim.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What am I really good at? What are the skills that I’ve been blessed with?

Make a list of all the skills you have (even what you think are minor skills). If you can’t figure out your skills, ask others. Directly ask others what they think you are good at. Often times others understand us better than we understand ourselves.

2.  Now ask yourself, what is it that you love about yourself? What are the talents that you have been blessed with that you are proud of?Do you really enjoy doing what you CAN do quite well, and possibly better than many others? There’s a difference between being good at something and actually enjoy doing it.

Remember the following points when aligning your career with your main purpose in life as a Muslim:

1. Make sure what you are finally select is within the “halal” boundaries. It has to be permissable in Islam CLEARLY.

If there’s any ambiguity in your selected field of passion- DROP IT. It’s not worth the risk.

For example; If you like genetic engineering or cosmetic surgery, and there’s a certain doubt associated with it, then it’s not worth setting up an entire career out of something that is disliked by Allah in the first place.

If it turns out that the path you chose for life was something HARAM according to the Fiqh rules that apply,  then the entire purpose of serving Allah is defeated.

2.  Whatever you decide to do, do it with PASSION. DON’T drag yourself. You will burnout sooner or later and deprive yourself to live a life with full potential. After all, Allah has given us only ONE LIFE to show His Mighty Presence, our entirety of EFFORTS. Make sure your efforts are driven with passion and direction. 🙂

Grab your FREE Cheatsheet, print it and keep it with you. Pick one tip from the cheatsheet every week and focus on it until you nail it. Then move on to the next!

Grab your FREE Cheatsheet!

Wrapping up… What can you expect from this Self-Development In Islam series

In this particular series, I will cover topics under emotional, physical and mental aspects of self-improvement.

The article updates will be delivered IN your INbox via our MYP-Weekly Newsletter ; ).. Yes we are cool, we have a newsletter B )

FYI.. Most of the content I write is exclusive to my mailing list crew– I love them to bits! You may see an article here on the blog every other week or so—BUT— I send a value-packed email every week to my list. Join in so you don’t miss out on all of the good stuff! 

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And Allah knows best!

Name one tip that you will start working on? Drop it down in the comments below! I respond to every single comment 🙂

KEEP READING…

Founder & Author l Muslim Youth Programme
Aimen is a Medical Doctor who teaches self-development to young Muslims struggling with the fitnah of this century. Her aim is to educate and empower Muslims with practical advice on self-development, productivity, studies and health, with insights on Islamic psychology. Jumpstart your productivity and take action on your goals by signing up to her latest FREE productivity Bootcamp for Muslims.
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