By the practice of contentment ones gains the strongest of happiness.
Contentment is one of the 10 moral practices that make up the first two limbs of the eight-limbed path of yoga. Putting it into action in our daily lives requires us to take a look at the reasoning behind why we feel successful one day and like a failure the next. Somedays I go to bed saying to myself “Nailed it.” I want to fist bump Scott in a gesture of pride and recognition of my achievements. Other days I feel like crawling into bed at noon and pray for a do-over.
This mental rollercoaster of measuring our success based on our achievements is one that keeps us on the edge of our seat never able to settle into the peace that exists beyond duality. Life is a practice and if we gave up on the days that we struggle and only celebrated the days that are seamless we would miss out on a whole lot of personal growth. I am currently learning that when I fail it’s ok to acknowledge the emotion that accompanies a loss without becoming a looser. I can own up to my mistakes without going down the rabbit hole of insecurity and self sabatoge.
I’m also realizing that I often don’t celebrate the less glamorous successes of my day. I don’t always honor the little things that collectively re-connect me with contentment like walking my dogs, being present with my kids, smiling at a stranger or just simply showing up and being of service to all the things in my life. When my happiness is less dependent on what I am accomplishing on the outside world and instead influenced by the work I am doing on my inner world contentment becomes the place I move from.
“Santosha, or the practice of content-ment, is the ability to feel satisfied within the container of one’s immediate experience.” Donna Farhi. When we get lost outside that container then we might feel a little bit more like Mick Jagger who famously sang “I can’t get no satisfaction.” I have spent far too much time being unsatisfied with life. I’ve spent too many hours running from the past and too many years chasing down the future. I’m exhausted by the game and I know better.
I know that I am in charge of my own happiness. I know that only I can control how I feel about the world I live in and how I feel about myself. I have practical tools that I can utilize when I catch my mind drifting towards wanting something I don’t have, clinging to something I do or wanting things to be different. The greatest tool of all is acknowledging the blessings in my life. Gratitude is my antidote to discontent and more often than not making a list of the things I appreciate in life cures the most mild or severe case of dissatisfaction.
Today I am grateful for self-reflection. It is the best tool for developing self-awareness and if I can be aware of myself in any given moment than I have the power to choose what path I take. I can make a conscience choice about whether I want to be ruled by my ego and thirst for more or be led by my spirit and be satiated by what I already have. Today I am content because I have everything I need. I have my breath and a beating heart and that is enough!