Creating a Positive Environment in Your Home
Allah SWT identifies the purpose of marriage as achieving sakeenah (tranquility) founded on the critical components of mawaddah (compassion, love) and rahmah (mercy) (Qur’an – 30:21). The picture that is painted in the Qur’an of the relationship between spouses is one of mutual love and compassion, where spouses consult one another (Qur’an – 42:38) and take care of one another. Believing men and women are described as awliaa (mutual friends and protectors) who work as partners doing good on this earth (9:72). The Qur’anic picture can be further developed by considering the verses that talk about how we should interact and communicate with each other. In these verses, we are encouraged to use positive and kind language (Qur’an – 14:24), to be gentle, and to be forgiving (Qur’an – 3:159).
As we reflect on the teachings presented in the Qur’an, it is easy to see how they can come together to create positive and constructive interactions. Although we may be fully aware of these teachings, we may not know how to implement them or how to change a negative environment into a positive one.
Importance of a positive environment
So why is it important to have a positive environment? Think about yourself in different environments or interacting with different types of people. Imagine a situation in which you’ve been criticized, mocked or put down. Or imagine a situation when you’ve had to spend time around a person who has nothing but negative things to say about the world. As you remember one of these scenarios, notice how you feel in your body. Notice the thoughts or words that come to mind. And notice any emotions that you feel. Chances are, in these scenarios, you probably start to feel a bit down yourself. Or you may actually feel unmotivated or immobilized. Or you may feel angry. Regardless, the likely impact of being in one of these scenarios over a long period of time is some sort of negative feeling. And even more likely, you may really prefer to spend as little time as possible in such a negative environment.
Now think of those people in your life who are positive, those who are generally cheerful, are generous with giving compliments and praise, and whose company you genuinely enjoy. As you remember one of these people, or a particular scenario, notice how you feel in your body. Notice if you feel more tense or more relaxed. Notice the thoughts and words that come to mind. And notice what emotions you feel. Chances are that you feel a bit lighter, perhaps you notice a smile on your lips, or maybe you just feel good. Being around people like this over time tends to be energizing and motivating.
In other words, a positive atmosphere makes it easier for us to be positive. It is an atmosphere that is more likely to bring out the best in us and in others around us. Negativity tends to lead to more negativity, while positivity leads to more positivity. You have probably experienced both in various relationships that you have. It’s a lot harder to maintain a positive attitude when people around you are down or critical; whereas when you are around people who are encouraging, you probably feel better about yourself and more optimistic.
Our Creator would most definitely know and understand human psychology. He reminds us of how to deal with others in ways that are most likely to generate a positive outcome, in addition to being most pleasing to Him. We will be rewarded when we smile or do an act of kindness because it is a sadaqah, or when we restrain our tempers (Qur’an – 3:134). Allah SWT encourages us to use the best manner even in arguments (Qur’an – 23:96). All of this is not easy to implement. It requires a constant reminder of why we would work so hard when it might be easier to be negative, criticize, and argue. It requires us to be mindful and conscious of pleasing Allah SWT so that we can over-ride what might be easier and act in the way that is consistent with Allah’s description of believers.
How to create a positive environment
Positive environments don’t just happen. They are created by the people who are in that environment. People who generate positive feedback, humor, encouragement and happiness contribute to the overall atmosphere. As Muslims, we should be proactive and take the lead on making this positive contribution. Generally, when someone initiates being positive, another person responds in kind, thereby creating a positive feedback loop.