The Summer of Our Contentment

It’s not calendar summer yet but with days this long and glorious, it’s hard not to feel contented. Ah, elusive contentment, sometimes so hard to grasp. Maybe that’s because grasping is the opposite of being contented. In a culture that features advertising slogans like, “Never stop improving,” it can be challenging to feel satisfaction and enjoyment in life just as it is. Enter the practice of santosha.

In Sanskrit, santosha means to practice contentment in yourself and your life just as they are. Not after you get the promotion, the house, the love of your life, but now, just as you are. I don’t know how houses feel but bosses and members of the dating and mating pool aren’t so impressed with dissatisfied grumblers. Not when there are other people who radiate confidence and joy.

I’d be lying if I said I never grumbled, never complained, was never dissatisfied. That’s why santosha is a practice, so that we can get better at it. Then those moments of pleasure, of joy, will be more and more often until they become a state of being rather than fleeting moments.

How does one practice santosha? Start by being grateful. That always works for me. Acknowledging the good, the blessings in your life. I find that easy to do when I’m petting my dog. I adopted him from a shelter so I constantly feel lucky to have found him. From the dog, it’s usually easy to flow out into other blessings in my life—my family, my friends, my house, my job. What? That’s your very list of complaints? Welcome to the human race! The people, the things, that bring us joy can also bring us pain. Heck, even the dog chews up a book every now and then. That doesn’t have to lessen the joy.

The next thing to do is to stop comparing yourself to others. There will always, always be people who have more of what you do want and less of what you don’t want. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel contentment in how things are for you right now, in this moment.

Look, I’m no Pollyanna. See above for confession of grumbling, complaining, and dissatisfaction! I’m not suggesting that anyone pretend that war or poverty or violence are good. I am suggesting that the ancient practice of santosha, of cultivating contentment, can help you find peace of mind in the midst of all of life’s challenges. That way, the next time the sun is shining softly on your face, you can glory in it instead of rushing past to do battle with life.

What about you? How do you bring more contentment into your life?

Comments

  1. Julie, reading your post on contentment is spreading feelings of contentment through my heart this very moment.

    This is the first I have heard of santosha. Even so, I notice that santosha and another ancient practice known by the Sanskrit term “samyama” share some lovely overlap. I began learning and exploring samyama in 1996. I ask myself what I am feeling and express my willingness to be with the sensations of whatever shows up. Regardless of the thoughts and any other manifestations of the mind, I have the choice to drop beneath the mind and meet the sensations of emotion and/or physical feelings exactly as they are. Samyama is direct experience. And it is Now.

    Your conversational style and your clear expression draw me into an ambience of having tea with a friend. Thank you so much, Julie.

    • Julie Corron says:

      Thank you, Dena. I’m not familiar with samyama but can’t wait to explore it. Meeting feelings exactly as they are; that’s powerful stuff.

  2. Living in the present helps bring me contentment. I’m not very good at it, but I keep practicing. A work in progress. I like to take a mini-break, breathe slowly and have a moment of mindfulness. Then I think of the things that are great at that moment. Right now it would be the birdsong, the fact that I am alive, the glass of wine waiting for me…..

  3. I love learning a new slant on contentment! I’m all for santosha!

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