By Hazrat Inayat Khan
There are two attitudes which divide people into two sections. The one is an ever-complaining attitude, and the other is an ever-smiling attitude. Life is the same; call it good call it bad, call it right, call it wrong; it is what it is, it cannot be otherwise. A person complains in order to get the sympathy of others and to show them his good points, sometimes in order to show himself as more just, more intelligent, and also in the right. He complains about everything, about friends and about foes, about those he loves, and much more about those he hates. He complains from morning till evening, and there is never an end to his complaint. It can increase to such an extent that the weather is not good and the air is not good and the atmosphere is not good; he is against both earth and sky, and everything everybody does is wrong; until it reaches the stage where that man begins to dislike his own works; and it culminates when he dislikes himself. In this way he grows to be against others, against conditions, and in the end against himself.
Do not imagine that this is a character rarely to be found in the world. It is a character you frequently meet with, and certainly the one who has this attitude is his own worst enemy. The person with a right attitude of mind tries to make even wrong right, but the one with a wrong attitude of mind will turn even right into wrong. Besides, magnetism is the need of every soul; the lack of it makes life burdensome. The tendency of seeing wrong in everything robs one to a great extent of that magnetism which is needed very much in life. For the nature of life is such that naturally the multitude only accepts those who come to it with the power of magnetism, and casts out everyone else. In other words, the world is a place where you cannot enter without a pass of admission, and that pass of admission is magnetism; the one who does not possess it will be refused everywhere.
Besides, you will find many who are always complaining about their health. There may be good reason, but sometimes there may be very little reason, too little indeed to speak of. And when once a person has become accustomed to answer despondently when sympathetically asked, 'How are you?' he certainly waters the plant of illness in himself by this complaining tendency.
Our life of limitation in the world, and the nature of this world's comforts and pleasures which are so changeable and unreliable, and the falseness that one finds in everything everywhere, if one complained about it, a whole lifetime would be too short to complain about it fully; every moment of our life would become filled with complaints. But the way out is to look at the cheerful side of it, the bright side. Especially those who seek God and truth, for them there is something else to think about; they need not think how bad a person is. When they think who is behind this person, who is in his heart, then they will look at life with hope. When we see things which are wrong, if we only give thought to this: that behind all workings there is God, who is just and perfect, then we will certainly become hopeful.
The attitude of looking at everything with a smile is the sign of the saintly soul. A smile given to a friend, a smile given even to an enemy will win him over in the end; for this is the key to the heart of man. As the sunshine from without lights the whole world, so the sunshine from within, if it were raised up, would illuminate the whole life, in spite of all the seeming wrongs and in spite of all limitations. God is happiness, the soul is happiness, the spirit is happiness. There is no place for sadness in the kingdom of God. That which deprives man of happiness deprives him of God and of truth.
One can begin to learn to smile by appreciating every little good thing that comes in one's way through life, and by overlooking every bad thing that one does not like to see. Be not troubled too much about unnecessary things in life which give nothing but displeasure. But looking at life with a hopeful attitude of mind, with an optimistic view, it is this which will give one the power of turning wrong into right, and bringing light into the place where all is darkness. Cheerfulness is life, sulkiness is death. Life attracts, death repulses. The sunshine which comes from the soul, rises through the heart, and manifests itself in man's smile is indeed the light from the heavens. In that light many flowers grow and many fruits become ripe.
(Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Art of Personality [The Sufi Message vol.3])
URL of Part 45: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals---on-the-annihilation-of-the-false-self-–-45/d/14051