Content means happy, right? I beg to differ.
The dictionary definition (stay with me here, I am a geeky linguist after all!) of contentment is “happiness and satisfaction, often because you have everything you need”. In our society we are so guilty of striving for material possessions, a promotion, a new house, a new car, to lose weight, to gain muscle… But why does that matter? Once you reach that goal, what then? Surely you will just replace it with another? So, you are constantly striving. Why do we set these limitations on ourselves? Yes, it can help us to work hard and “keep us going”, and I know full well that I am often guilty of this too! Surely if we take a step back and just remain in the moment we will see that actually we are capable of contentment. Acknowledge and appreciate what you have right here, right now.
In preparation for May’s classes I reread the chapter on Santosha* in the book The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele – a book I so gratefully discovered by chance on Amazon in preparation to write my essay for my YYT. I adore how she writes in such plain language and makes each of the yamas and niyamas seem so simple and so obvious.
“The jewel of Santosha [contentment] invites us into contentment by taking refuge in a calm center, opening our hearts in gratitude for what we do have and practicing the paradox of ‘not seeking’.”
How often are you seeking something? Waiting for Friday? Waiting for the next holiday? Waiting for home time? Wanting a new outfit? Wishing you could be stronger/more flexible?
Now, I’m not saying stop seeking, seeking is bad, but merely stop punishing yourself with so many goals all the time! I’m challenging myself throughout May to become more aware of these thoughts and I invite you to join me. When you catch yourself seeking the next thing, observe your thoughts, become aware, accept, ride the wave of each emotion you feel and begin to practice gratitude instead. Practice gratitude by thinking of three things that you are grateful for in that moment. As a sufferer of anxiety and depression, I know that this is a HUGE challenge, but here goes!
3 things that I am grateful for today:
- One of my oldest friend’s texting me to meet for a spontaneous lunch date with her and her beautiful baby – seeing her happy sleeping face was just adorable!
- My cup of tea
- The rain held off long enough for me to walk the dogs (and the fact that I even have such beautiful companions to share my day with…I mean look at their faces!!)
What are you thankful for today?