Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu,
Welcome to the Best Versions Podcast, where I help you unlock your fullest potential to move from average to excellence in Worship, Energy, Love and Legacy.
I’m your Host, Rushdhi Ismail. A computer engineer turned nutrition and life coach. I will use my experience of over 25 years in the personal and spiritual development field to provide you with practical tools to move from average to excellence, bi’idnillah!
Alhamdulillah, I’m super thrilled to meet you again in another meaningful episode.
I sincerely hope you enjoy these episodes and try hard to put the theory into practice.
May Allah subuhanawuta’la enable all of us to come closer to Him by practising the good we learn. Ameen.
Today we want to discuss an unbelievably easy tool to enhance our relationship with people around us.
As you are probably aware, our relationships with others define our Ultimate success in the Aakhira.
Whether or not we enter paradise depends on our relationship with others.
If that is something that sounds strange to you, then listen to what our scholars say about that.
Islamic scholars divide injustice into three types.
Type #1 is injustice against Allah subuhanawuta’la. How can we be unjust towards him?
Not believing in Him is the greatest injustice. He created us, and He is our Sustainer. So the greatest injustice is not recognising Him as our Creator and not directing our worship towards Him. Allah will not forgive the sin of kufr.
Type #2 is injustice against ourselves. We are being unjust to ourselves by committing sins.
Every sin we do is a transgression of Allah’s limit. And still, if Allah will, He will forgive us. That’s His endless mercy.
Type #3 is injustice against others. When we mistreat others, infringe on others’ rights, backbite or slander others, we are actually doing injustice against others. And Allah will not forgive these sins until the people involved in them forgive us.
So we need to be aware of this danger when we engage with others. If our relationship with others sucks, our success in the Aakhira is in jeopardy.
That other can be your parent, spouse, children, sibling, neighbour, or anyone you come into contact with.
Therefore, pay attention to your communication and dealings with others.
To a great extent, even your worldly peace is defined by the way you engage with others.
No one likes jerks. However, if you are an easy-going, gentle person, everyone around you will love and like you. That’s just the undeniable reality of life.
So what you need to understand is that just like we have duties to fulfil towards Allah subuhanawuta’la, we also have duties to fulfil towards people.
We can’t ditch one over the other. As Muslims, our role is to balance them both. We strive to come closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la by improving our character towards others.
In fact, one of the goals of ‘ibadah is moral refinement.
Or, to simplify that language, one of the objectives of our worship is to improve our character.
Think about it for a moment!
What does Allah subuhanawuta’la tell us when commanding us to pray?
إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ
Indeed, Salah restrains from shamelessness and evil – (Al-Ankabut, 29:45)
So prayer, when done correctly, will indeed help us refine our character.
Likewise, Ramadan, what’s the goal of Ramadan?
Fasting in Ramadan helps us achieve taqwa, which in return refines our character.
So all the worship we do helps us directly to purify our soul.
And what’s more important than purifying our soul?
The objective of our ibadah is to purify ourselves so that we have the best relationship with our Lord, with us, and with the rest of Allah’s creation.
In fact, Allah subuhanawuta’la sent messengers to us for this very purpose. When He sent the Prophet Musa to Firawn, what did Musa ask?
فَقُلْ هَلْ لَكَ إِلَىٰ أَنْ تَزَكَّىٰ
So say: Would you be willing to purify yourself?
So know that purification of the soul should be one of the biggest priorities in our life.
Now, the question is, how does the purification of our soul manifest in our life?
Well, that’s through our character.
If our Akhlaq, i.e. our character, is in good shape, then our soul is probably in good condition as well.
So when we increase our closeness to Allah, our character should shine. That’s why Prophet ﷺ said, “Righteousness is in good character”. (Sahih Muslim)
A big part of that good character is displayed when engaging with others.
So our good Akhlaq is a sign that our relationship with Allah subuhanawuta’la is sound. Alhamdulillah.
So in today’s episode, we will discuss an easy tool that will help you refine your character and improve your relationship with everyone around you.
Yes, this tool will insha Allah help you enhance your relationship with everyone! Whether it’s with your parents, spouse, children, sibling or anyone you know or don’t know.
If you use it genuinely, you’ll see its positive impact immediately in your relationship, bi’idnillah!
So what is that tool?
I’ve even given a sweet name to that tool. I call it “catch the positive”.
“Catch the positive?” Yep, catch the positive.
It’s about proactively looking for the positives in others.
Instead of focusing on others’ mistakes and criticising them, we proactively look for their positives. That’s what I mean by catching the positive.
It’s about always focusing on the positivity in people and things.
Or it’s about trying to look at the white dots in an increasingly darker environment.
It’s about making lemonade when life gives you lemons.
Now, is that always easy?
Not really, but when you practice looking for positives in others at the good times, it becomes easier to look at the positives at the bad times.
The opposite of catching the positive would be criticising others and blaming others for everything.
Criticising others is actually an easier thing to do than catching the positive. However, will that help you improve your relationship with others?
In fact, constantly criticising others is the fastest way to destroy your relationship with anyone. Period!
Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahumullah even called it a “disease”. He said, “criticising others all the time is a disease“.
Some people forget the good about others and only mention their faults. They find pleasure in blaming and criticising others.
When the house is not clean, they blame their spouse for it.
When the job is bad, they blame their boss for it.
When the traffic is terrible, they blame the government for it.
They miss seeing the positives in anyone or anything.
Ibn Taymiyyah described their act so beautifully. He said, “They are like flies that avoid good and pure places and land on bad wounds. That’s because of the evil within the self and the spoiled nature.”
Subhanallah, how true is that, right?
Your negativity towards others is a reflection of your own self. It’s a disease in your heart, and you need to reckon with it first before you deal with others’ negativity.
You can insha Allah treat this “disease” with the “catch the positive” tool. Instead of “landing on bad wounds”, we actively try to “land on good and pure places”.
So what does it mean in practice?
In practice, it means always looking at the positives in people and things.
When someone does good, we appreciate the good they do. Or when something terrible happens to us, we try to see the bright side of it. It may not be easy, but still, we fully trust that Allah subuhanawuta’la has the best plan for us.
So, when the spouse cooks, we appreciate the hard work, even if the food isn’t tasty.
When our children do something good, we appreciate the good, even if they don’t always behave in that manner.
When you meet your colleague, you make a positive comment on their appearance or quality.
Instead of saying, “oh, you look tired today“, find a positive in their appearance. Perhaps you can give some positive but genuine comments on their dress. “Masha Allah, you look great in that dress“, or “Masha Allah, you look very energised today“. Whatever compliments you make, make sure it is genuine and positive.
It’s about training your brain to look for beautiful and positive things.
Even if you aren’t in the mood to do so, at least greet people with a smile. Smiling is contagious, so even if the person you meet is in a bad mood, your smile will soften your meeting.
Sometimes you meet certain individuals, and you feel there is absolutely nothing you can compliment genuinely. In that case, make a du’a for that person. Upon meeting, you can say, “Oh my dear, I’m pleased to meet you today, may Allah subuhanawuta’la give the best in both worlds,” or “may Allah grant you barakah in everything you do“.
So catching the positive means, we make our “default mode” to find the good in others. We actively search for ways to appreciate and praise the good.
These simple things will enhance your relationship with ANYONE, whether that relationship is with your parents, spouse, children, siblings or anyone you know or do not know.
One of the things I personally do at home is, sit with my family together and ask my kids to mention one positive quality they like about their parents and siblings. Everyone gets to say just one, and it’s a beautiful, fun game!
The goal is to help them practice seeing the positive in others.
When you start to practice catching the positive, two things will happen.
1. You’ll inevitably improve your relationship with others.
2. And you’ll help others change
That’s because people change best by feeling good about themselves, not by feeling bad.
BJ Fogg is one of the world’s leading behavioural scientists from Stanford University. He has been studying human behaviour for more than 20 years. And he says that “people change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad“.
So if you want to correct the mistakes of others, the best way to do so isn’t to criticise them for their mistake but to make them feel good about themselves before you gently remind them about the mistake they made.
For example, when you see a big mess in your teenager’s room, instead of criticising their mess first, start with catching the positive. “hey, your smile is beautiful today” or, “one side of your bookshelf is really nice, I would appreciate it if you can also tidy up the other side of the bookshelf in the same manner“.
And every time you catch the positive in others, it makes them feel good. And that helps to change themselves.
Author Ken Blanchard says in one of his books, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results, and people who produce good results feel good about themselves.”
So, it’s a virtuous cycle built on the concept of catching people doing something right.
So use this virtuous cycle to your advantage. Always use positive words and learn to look the best in your loved ones and others.
Even if you don’t have the habit of criticising people, it’s still important to highlight the positives of others because that’s how you can make others feel good.
Our beloved Prophet ﷺ was a master at this skill. He always appreciated the goodness of others. He always highlighted the good qualities and good efforts of others. We also see this in his naming culture.
What did he call Aboobakr? Aboo Bakr As-Siddeeq, the truthful one.
What did he call Umar? Umar Al-Farooq, the criterion – the one who distinguishes between right and wrong.
So the Prophet ﷺ always looked at the best in others, and he was quick to appreciate the good and forgive the mistakes of others.
Now, much can be said about catching the positive tool. However, I would like to end the episode today with a crucial science-based tool that you can use to improve your relationship with your family, particularly with your spouse. Change should always start within our family. That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said, “the best of you is the one who is best to his family“.
Let’s insha Allah strive towards becoming the best to our families, ameen.
The tool is from Dr John Gottman. He is a psychologist, scientist, and the world’s leading expert in marital relations. He says that unless a couple can maintain a high ratio of positive to negative affect, it is likely that their marriage will end. He says that positive to negative affect must be on a ratio of 5:1 or greater.
What does it mean in practice?
For every negative interaction you have with your spouse, you ensure at least five positive interactions with them.
In other words, every positive interaction you make is like depositing money into your marriage account. And every negative interaction is like withdrawing money from your marriage account.
For instance, saying “I love you”, giving a hug, buying a small gift, a loving touch, a word of appreciation such as ” honey, thanks so much” or “you look so beautiful today”, etc. are some simple ways to deposit some “love currency” into your marriage account.
So when your positive interaction with your spouse is five times higher than your negative interaction, then your marriage wouldn’t really suffer.
Now, when you have 5’000 $ in your account and withdraw 1000 $, it wouldn’t hurt you much. However, if all you have is 1000 $ in your account and you withdraw that 1000$, you’ll feel the pinch, right?
Remember this example when you are trying to strengthen your relationship. Try depositing as much as you can by catching the positives. It will help you maintain a positive balance in your relationship account, enabling you to flourish in your marriage, bi’idnillah!
This tool will not only help you in your marriage but also works wonders in all other relationships.
Don’t trust my words. Put this into practice and see yourself what miracles it does in your life.
That’s all from me for today.
Thanks so very much for listening to my podcast. I sincerely pray that this episode helps you go from average to excellence in worship, energy, love and legacy.
If you want to read the transcript of this podcast, you can find it at https://bestversions.me/podcasts/13.
And last but not least, please subscribe to my podcast, and share the podcast with your family and friends. I’m confident you can make a difference in others’ lives by sharing this information with them.
Until we meet in the next episode insha Allah next Friday, I pray that Allah subuhanawuta’la showers his choicest blessings on you and your family.
Love you all!
And let me end the podcast with the greetings of Jannah, Asssalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu.