The above mentioned comparison might be a very good reason for us to remain in a constant state of gratefulness, thanking Allah (Swt) every day for the blessings we have, yet there are many of us, who desires more in life, more than what we already have. Thinking about this, we will feel guilt and shame as to why we cannot remain in a state of happiness and thankfulness. Why do we look at a bigger house than the one we already have, think about having a better job that might bring us more income and get upset with life when we miss the bus in the morning?
The answer to this is more complex than one might think. There are several factors that play together to make us want more and more in life. Let me tell you, not all of these factors are negative. But let us start with the more negative ones that we must try to reduce as the constant feeling of wanting more is based on a feeling of not having enough, which equals a state of lack.
As Muslims we know that spending most of our time thinking about what we don’t have and what we would like to have, rather than being grateful for what we have, is not what Islam teaches us. In fact, gratitude is one of the most important aspects of our religions as Allah (Swt.) says in the Quran “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe’. (14:7) And yet, we find it difficult to remain grateful and stop wishing for more.
The difficulty of staying grateful all the time lies, partly in human nature as we tend to compare ourselves to others, and partly in our upbringing, which tells us that having more is the key to happiness and success. We grow up, seeing people who look up to other people when they achieve certain standards such as a promotion or lots of income. We set ourselves the goal to achieve a certain degree at university, drive a luxurious car or earn a certain amount of money. Ironically, once we achieve that goal, dissatisfaction slowly returns and makes us want more. We think to ourselves if only we would have a bigger house or a more suitable spouse all our worries would come to an end. We might again reach our goal, but we can be assured as long as we do not change our attitude, we will return to the state of wanting more and the process starts all over again.
Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins once said that even if we would reach all the goals that we have set for ourselves, after achieving them, we will want to have more. The only way to prevent us from falling into a negative habit of not appreciating what we already have and to stop feeling a lack in our life or an urge that we have to have more, is to firstly be grateful of what we have already achieved. We have to consciously remind ourselves of what we already have instead of focusing on it for a couple of days, maybe weeks and then forgetting about it. The mind needs conditioning, so we need to remind ourselves every day of all blessings that we have. Thinking about everything we have already achieved and have, will first create a positive foundation in our minds, giving us the opportunity to turn the feeling of wanting more, into a powerful force of becoming whatever we want to be.
However, the risk of achieving what you want and starting all over again remains, that is why the second step is to find a lifetime purpose, which even if we achieve our goals, will always remain with us. What better life purpose could we have than becoming better in practising our deen. We could also expand this concept to other aspects of our life such as living a healthier life. Within the purpose that we set for ourselves, we can then set goals, steps, which we could try to achieve without losing the bigger concept or purpose. One can never stop trying to be a better Muslim, one can also never stop trying to live a healthier life or become a better parent as we will never be perfect. Thus, we will never lose the bigger purpose and can appreciate every step of improvement. As humans we need to have a constant focus, a purpose that will give us small steps of success without disappearing. If our life goal is to become rich, we could one day achieve that and we will be left without purpose leading to a life that is empty. But if we choose to strive to become a better person, we will never reach that goal fully, however, we will achieve steps of success which will push us further to become evern better.
Wanting more is thus not always a bad thing, it just becomes negative, if we focus too much on what we don’t have and forget about what we already have. In addition to that, we have to wisely chose what is worth becoming a purpose. Humans need a purpose in life, without that we wouldn’t function. It is important that we set goals for ourselves, appreciating everything our Creator has already given us alongside the wish of improving ourselves in all parts of life.