In Sanskrit (the ancient language of India) the word for contentment is Santosha and it is considered one of the key components to success on the path of Self-realization. It is mentioned in all the great yoga texts such as the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Santosh is the prerequisite to experiencing peace, harmony and happiness.
Finding Inner balance
Santosha is an inner feeling of gratitude, satisfaction and fullness in this moment, where events, circumstances and experiences from the outer world don’t set us off balance.
When we’re in a state of Santosha, all our desires are quenched by this inner feeling of contentment. Our desires for material goods lessens and we feel more inner peace. We become more selfless in nature because it brings great joy in help others.
Desires without attachment
When we have things in our mind that we want to accomplish, acquire, or change, there is a tendency to have expectations. And, there is the old saying – “expectations lead to disappointment”.
Yes, it would be great to have that perfect job, but if we’re expecting to get a specific one that we have perceived in our mind, and that doesn’t happen, what happens to our inner peace? We lose it because we feel disappointed and that is what causes our suffering.
Yes, it is a great idea to beome healthier, but if we want our bodies to look like someone we have a picture of in our mind, and it doesn’t result the way we wanted it to, how do we end up feeling? Our comparison and attachment to the outcome turn our good intentions into feelings of failure and inadequacy.
When we’re content, it doesn’t mean to give up striving for something meaningful and have no desires at all. However when we are in a state of Santosha, we’re unattached to the results and don’t have any expectations. There is no comparison to anyone or anything else.
We retain our inner balance when we don’t get the car, job or relationship we want. We may at first have some disappointment, but we quickly transcend that and feel grateful for the experience. We accept and open to what the universe or God has in store for us next. With any undertaking, we do our best and leave the results up to God or the universe, and “let thy will be done”.
Finding Inner Peace
Santosha also brings us a sense of equanimity allowing us to become calm, balanced and even minded. This is also a sign of finding inner balance.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it. The problem is that many of us avoid opportunities to feel Santosha. If we have free time or a day off, how often do we rush to try to fill it with something? If we get a new job, how soon does it lose its appeal? When we’re single we want to be in a relationship, and sometimes when we’re in one, we long for some freedom that comes from being single.
Whatever progress we make such as an increase in income, acquiring a new skill, or becoming healthier – we’re still not satisfied.
So why is it so hard to develop Santosha and what can we do to bring more satisfaction and contentment into our lives?
1. Be more humble. When we don’t get upset when someone blames us for something we allow ourselves to become more silent, calm and steady minded.
Instead of getting angry or irritated we remain neural which leads us to greater peace and inner balance.
When we learn to make ourselves small and less important we automatically become less competitive and seek the need to make ourselves better than others.
Ultimately our humility leads to better relationships with others and greater harmony with our experiences, circumstances and events.
2. Simplify. When we begin to enjoy the simple things in life such as doing the dishes, folding the laundry, listening to the rain, smiling at someone on the street we see things differently.
We realize how abundant our lives really are, how good it feels to just breathe and how fortunate we are to be alive and well.
We learn to really enjoy our relationships and experiences with others. We have less need to get something new, and enjoy more of what we have.
We feel happier with who we are, because we see the wonderful qualities and positive characteristics we already possess.