A mother was at the grocery store with her 18-month-old son who lately had begun throwing temper tantrums whenever he couldn’t get his way. This morning he was asking for candy and when told it was almost time for lunch and he could have a candy after lunch, the toddler began whining and kicking while in the grocery cart seat. The mother started feeling her blood pressure rise and sweat on her brow. “Another tantrum!…This is getting to be too much. I can’t take it any more. He’s impossible to deal with.” Then she remembered a statement she had read in an article about gratitude and said to herself “What can I find to be grateful for in this situation right now?” That thought was an instantaneous interrupt of her spiraling out-of-control anger and resentment toward her son for acting up. Immediately she thought, “Wow, I feel angry and resentful toward a toddler! That’s crazy — God forgive me!” In that moment’s pause, she thought, “I am grateful for my own good health and having a child who is healthy.” This thought calmed her and she reached out and touched her son’s arm, a spontaneous reaching-out to reassure herself that yes, there he was, able-bodied and full of healthy vigor enough to squirm and whine like the childish human being that he was. Her touch also seemed to calm the boy just a little. Enough that the mother then thought, “What else can I find to be grateful for in this situation right now?” She looked around at the well-stocked shelves, food of every sort, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken…why, anything she might want. And she had money in her pocket to buy more than enough for her family. All those cans of soup and beans and… then an idea came to her and she said to her son with a big smile on her face, “Let’s count the cans of soup on this shelf and see if there are more than five!” Her son, who loved to count, got excited, forgot all about the candy, and started pointing to cans with his arm outstretched. “One, two, three….” The mother thought, “Let me count my blessings!
“And if you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Qur’an 16:18).