بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy has a chapter on Thanksgiving year-round. His technique is quite simple and profound. One Thanksgiving he decided to note down one thing he appreciated about his wife and he continued to do it every day for a year.
He would observe how she interacted with her friends, how she cared for their dogs or the way she styled her hair. He looked for things that touched him and revealed attributes, characteristics, and qualities that he appreciated. He started seeing the subtleties in her nature and behavior. The following Thanksgiving he surprised her with the journal as a gift.
This simple expression of love and appreciation changed their marriage, it was “the best gift” his wife had ever received, and it increased and deepened his appreciation and love for her. Instead of seeing her faults, he zeroed in on her positive aspects and consciously looked for all the things she was doing right, that heartfelt focus made him fall deeply in love with her all over again.
He shared this technique with a friend who had been complaining about his wife. It turned around his friend’s relationship. Both men also experienced a shift in how their wives related to them. As the adage goes, “What you appreciate, appreciates.”
Conversely, there once was a couple who complained about their marriage and sought to “fix” the other person. When the Thanksgiving Journal was suggested to them, they both rejected the idea saying it asked too much of them. Their relationship was miserable and they were making each other miserable, but finding the time to write one positive thing about each other was more than they could bear. The result was that they lived unhappily ever after, blaming each other for their problems.
Did this couple need to use Darren’s Thanksgiving Journal to save their marriage? No. But the absence of gratitude, the unwillingness to change their existing pattern, even a little, indicate mental and emotional rigidity. Allah says in the Quran, “little do you give thanks (67:23).” If we cannot thank others and appreciate them, we cannot thank Allah who has bestowed innumerable blessings upon us every millisecond of the day through His creation and creatures.
Hazrat Inayat Khan observed that anointing the bride and groom with oil, as is common in South Asia, makes a psychical impression. It suggests that “the hands and feet of each shall be ready to serve the other, and that they shall not show themselves stiff, one to the other, that if there were any hardness in their nature it should be softened since harmony is the blessing of a home.”
Sometimes two people are incompatible, and being able to accept that and move forward is usually better than causing each other pain. Nor should anyone tolerate any form of abuse in the name of love. Louise Hay has powerful affirmations on releasing another with love. There is no blame nor shame in moving away from those who are not in alignment with our being. I often tell our girls that no relationship is better than a bad one.
“The lover who leans upon the beloved’s response, his love is like the flame that needs oil to live; but the lover who stands on his own feet is like the lantern of the sun that burns without oil” (Gayan Vadan Nirtan).
I read The Compound Effect in 2017 and began keeping a Thanksgiving Journal that year, and have continued to do it ever since. It kept me positive and appreciative, especially when I struggled with depression. I would also journal automatic thoughts, noting cognitive distortions in my thinking, and then writing a rational response to them (Feeling Good). Recently, I began observing things about my mom (e.g., she’s generous, has an unforgettable laugh and smile, and appreciates what I do for her, even if I can’t do it “THIS MINUTE!” ;).
“Whatever it is that you write,” Diana Raab said, “putting words on the page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime.”
In an authentic hadith, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ linked thanking people with thanking Allah. Expressing our appreciation for others increases happiness, love, and goodwill. It is a gift from the heart that enters the heart. Ya Shakur (The Most Appreciative) is one of Allah’s beautiful names. And in the Glorious Quran, our Lord proclaimed: “If you are thankful, surely I will increase you, but if you are thankless My chastisement is terrible” (14:7).
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ٧
I would like to close this newsletter by thanking all of you who read it! Your friendship has been a constant source of blessing for me, and your prayers are sincerely appreciated.
If you’ve never done it, try keeping a Thanksgiving Journal and see what happens in your life and relationships.
In faith and service,
PS. I would love to hear about your results!