I chose the name Santosha because the meaning, contentment, resonates strongly with me. Contentment, in my view, is one of the keys to finding inner peace and happiness. The dictionary defines contentment as the state of being happy and satisfied. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is one of the great yoga texts, says “By contentment, supreme joy is gained”.
Yet one translation of this sutra goes on to say:
Here we should understand the difference between contentment and satisfaction. Contentment means just to be as we are without going to outside things for our happiness. If something comes, we let it come. If not, it doesn’t matter. Contentment means neither to like or dislike.
Yogis believe that peace, joy, love and happiness are all present within us, and that this eternal search for happiness through external sources gets in our way of finding those inner qualities.
In modern society we seem to seek more and more external “things” in order to find contentment. We seem to be losing the ability to find contentment in small things and from within.
I learnt this lesson, if not for the first time but certainly most prominently, whilst receiving treatment for my illness. With my physical capabilities curtailed, I found myself coming to appreciate simple things, like the feel of the sun on my face. Quiet cups of tea with friends. Or the joy to be found in mindful activities like colouring-in.
It is unlikely to be a coincidence that I find the feeling of contentment to be most prominent when I am in the present moment. This is what the current mindfulness movement (itself rooted in ancient practices) is all about – being in the present. When we are attuned to what’s going on in this moment – right here, right now – it is easier to find something that we can enjoy, or appreciate.
When we are up in our heads thinking, we have a tendency to either be dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. I see many people around me constantly living in the past, dwelling on mistakes made, regretting things that were not said or done, or lamenting the “good old days” that modern times don’t live up to.
I myself tend more to future-thinking. Always planning, looking forward to, dreaming about that fantasy life where everything will be perfect and I will be happy. But tomorrow never comes and this moment is all we ever have. This is where we should look for contentment.
What makes you content? Can you find something here in this moment that brings you contentment?