It’s Motivation Monday, and I am bringing you 5 Life-Changing ways to be Content, an adaptation on a blog that I wrote back in 2012 for MindBodyGreen. ALL of these concepts are timeless and relevant. A lot of us are searching for Contentment in our lives, whether through our careers, our families, or our passions. Today, we can all stand to learn from and grow with Santosha.
Santosha (sometimes spelled Santosa) is yoga’s second Niyama (our attitude and relationship with the world) which utterly means Contentment.
1. Santosha is contentment from the inside out,
Meaning that contentment must come from within. It is a development of our inner-most being. We all have been in that place, where we act content and say we are content, but really we are far from it. We may not even know what it truly means. To find Contentment is to dig deep and discover that even when lacking, we can be content. We can be satisfied with what we have been given or not given. And to me, part of
Santosha is also admitting that at this moment we may not be totally happy, but we are working to get there and learning to be content. There is a level of honesty that comes with the second Niyama.
2. Contentment is a great way to look at the world in which we live and say “these are opportunities to grow.”
So now the question is: “Are you ready and willing to grow?” We often make the decision to “grow” on our own terms, when the time is right. The truth is, the time is right – right now! Yoga has taught me that if we pick and choose when to grow, we will continue to wonder why we are so unhappy. We will feel that our happiness is temporary. Contentment doesn’t necessarily mean we have to suffer, but the opposite. Contentment teaches us that there is a world full of opportunities out there just waiting for us… As soon as we stop waiting for the “right time.”
I often tell my students, myself, and now my young children, “What can you learn from this?” There is an opportunity to grow in everything. You can learn something from everyone and everything – you have to make it a priority. It’s as simple as a yoga class: you find yourself in a class that is “not up to your caliber” and all you think about is leaving or how bad it is. Well, maybe that class is destined for you to discover something about yourself that you would not otherwise notice. The question now becomes… “Do you chose to learn Contentment and grow or not?”
3. There is always something better….But there is also something much worse.
Seeing both sides of the spectrum is a healthy way to stop feeling sorry for yourself and discover Santosha. I struggled for ten years with a wide variety of eating disorders, depression, and social anxiety. I had a constantly recurring thought pattern that was always about failure… what Alcoholics Anonymous calls relapsing. I had found myself there many times, and each time I would fall I would only see failure. I would imagine having to start over again at the beginning. Once yoga taught me to be content with the fact that I may have acted inappropriately, I was then able to actually accept my place in that moment, in my recovery, and in my life. Yeah, I wasn’t quite out of the red, but I wasn’t anywhere close to where I use to be. In those many moments, I learned to be okay with that.
4. Stop seeking and start living, contentment in every situation, not just when things are going good, but when you are challenged and when you have to work and truly open.
I remember back to high school, a quote that had made my school’s yearbook. It was like a part of me that had always been there and had finally spoken up: “I will continue to stand up even if I am standing alone.” Santosha begs us to be content with what we have and what we don’t. It asks us to stand up and speak out, knowing that there will be someone that doesn’t like you or who doesn’t agree with you. Know that they too are searching for their own contentment. You may be part of that process for them, as they are for you. So be happy when things are going good, but be even more delighted when things aren’t going so good. Because it’s the not-so-good times that really teach us contentment.
5. The moment is complete and you can’t add to it, even if you tried, you can only be a part of it.
How do we become the moment? Yogis often say “live in the moment,” but what about actually being the moment. On a very basic level, we are asked to fully immerse ourselves into what is presented to us. A delayed flight to an important meeting, an angry spouse, a rude checkout clerk, a homeless person in a coffee shop; these things teach us to “be the moment” just as much as the perfect wedding day, a smile from a stranger, or an unexpected gift from a friend. Santosha offers the idea that in becoming the moment, we don’t choose. We take each one as it comes and offer gratitude for each experience. Each moment is necessary for us to accept the next. One not being any more important than the previous or the next, just as it should be in this very amazing sacred experience.
If you often feel like you are struggling to find contentment, don’t lose hope. I went from a place of being depressed and anxious and used yoga to help me find a place of confidence in myself. Several of the courses that I have created are based on the strategies that I used to become a healthier version of myself. Join me in my Mindful Movement Online Studio for unlimited access to simple yoga routines and meditations that anyone can use. See you there!