This month’s theme at SWC is “Happiness and Joy.”
Today we are looking at contentment as a form of happiness.
In yoga philosophy, there is a system of personal ethics, called “Niyamas” in Sanskrit.
The second Niyama is Santosha, which is translated as contentment.
The Yoga Sutras say the following: “By contentment, the highest happiness is attained.” – The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra II.42
Contentment means being as we are, without seeking happiness from external sources.
If we are always looking outside ourselves to find contentment, there is no end to the seeking.
Can you remember the last time you were dreaming of buying a new car, getting a promotion at work, moving into a nicer house or finding a partner to share life with? Do you remember fantasizing about how happy you would be if you attained those things?
If you finally did attain one of those things, you may have found that the “happiness boost” didn’t last that long or wasn’t as intense as you’d imagined.
Most of us have gone through this cycle, which psychologists call the hedonic treadmill. This theory posits that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them. So, the happiness we get from acquiring things we yearn for is only temporary.
Santosha is the experience of unconditional happiness, a state that allows us to find contentment in any situation and that is independent from external conditions.
Contentment is learning to embrace what is right in front of you and to stop looking for what is missing.
One way to foster contentment is to meditate on the things for which you are grateful.
Find a comfortable seat in a quiet spot and try this quick gratitude practice:
•Close your eyes and allow yourself to relax by taking 10 slow, deep breaths.
•When you feel relaxed and comfortable, put your attention on your heart and for the next few minutes, think of all the things in your life that you could be grateful for.
•Just sit there quietly. As you think of the things you are grateful for, experience the warmth that gratitude brings into your heart.
•There is so much to be grateful for and the feeling of gratitude brings even deeper feelings of love, compassion, and understanding into your heart.
•Sit quietly with these feelings for a few minutes, and when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.