We all want it. We all need it. But how exactly do you find contentment and happiness, in a wild mixed-up world?
‘Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.’ – Aeschylus.
This quote from the father of the Greek tragedy, is an interesting idea that happiness is a choice and I believe this to be true.
In yoga philosophy, the secret of happiness is derived from contentment and then unsurpassed happiness is gained. One principle called Santosha has a very simple meaning. Santosha is contentment which is the key that unlocks the possibility of enduring happiness.
In this week’s Happy Healthy YOU column, I want to introduce you to Santosha and share with you how you can start to access these principles in your life.
The term is derived from ancient Sanskrit language thousands of years old. San, meaning “completely” or “altogether,” and tosha, meaning “contentment” or “acceptance.”
I think we could all use a little less focus on the external world and more focus internally on ourselves, as I believe nothing will make us happy until we choose to be happy. Sure, a fun night, good company, a feel-good movie, a hearty laugh can bring about happy moments. But durable, withstanding happiness and contentment starts within not when we find the perfect (fill in the blank… job, partner, weight, political atmosphere, etc).
I’ve always thought the TV show The Bachelor was funny for this reason. Of course, it’s romantic to have dinner on a cliff in Greece being serenaded by a violinist. But remove all the external, these relationships rarely last as it was the external that provided the “love” and “romance”.
One of the best or easiest definition of Santosha is that it means to remain calm, satisfied and contented, accepting all the sorrows and pleasures in the moment. It is a starting point with mindfulness, which is an acceptance of what is, as it is. Not how we want it to be, or what we think it should be, but acceptance, exactly as it is.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have goals and visions of something different. But rather with an awareness and acceptance of what is, we find our contentment as we move from here.
Santosha simply requires accepting the fact that you are not worse or better than others, that the life circumstances you are dealing with at the moment are perfect for your development and we are all dealing with stuff and that overall contentment can coexist within challenging times.
When we have “lack” mentality, or think the grass is greener on the other side, experience envy or jealousy, or we are not enough or have enough, we lose our vital energy that keeps us energized. But when we experience acceptance, satisfaction, and contentment with what we have and experience abundance mentality or gratitude, this assists us to gain vital force energy and can diminish our stressors, tensions and other feelings that make us feel even worse.
It comes form within. Our thoughts, feelings, perceptions and beliefs all must be challenged and shifted with intentionality and mindfulness to gain the inner peace and happiness we desire. We will not find it outside of ourselves.
When we are jealous, fighting others or think that we don’t have enough, we lose our vital energy. Oppositely, acceptance and satisfaction with what we have gives us energy, removes mental tension, and helps us to focus on internal work instead of external expressions of success.
This sustainable happiness always comes from within, not from world around us.
Life is a gift. Every moment of life is precious. And when we are able to realize this, we become happy, and joy becomes a normal state for us.
In next week’s column I will offer some tips to find more ease through finding happiness and contentment from within. Once we find this, then our challenges begin to evaporate and our illusions fade.