In this country, advertisers prey on our longings so that wanting what we don’t have has become the norm. The wisdom of santosha, or contentment, invites us to take refuge in a calm center, opening our hearts in gratitude for what we do have. It’s asks that we practice being enough.

Slow Down to Savor

Westerners are always on the move. We’re often on the lookout for the next thing. When we’re small, we can’t wait to be big. When we’re at work, we can’t wait for vacation. Our minds are usually anywhere but the present moment. We consume, covet and control continually and it’s draining us, which only perpetuates the cycle of seeking THE thing to bring us joy.

We also hand over our contentment when we get hijacked by emotions. We’re emotional beings, so there is a natural element to being swept away. This refers to getting carried away by them. When we’re hooked, we lose perspective and make rash decisions. Parents know this one well. Whenever we place our emotional well being in the hands of another, we have allowed our contentment to be determined outside ourselves. As you can guess, santosha is an inside job.

Gratitude is a Practice

It’s not easy to cultivate contentment in a culture where Wall Street and social media constantly tantalize us with visions of a better life. Practicing gratitude protects us from pettiness and keeps us centered in the abundance of our own life. While wanting and distraction pull at us, it is gratitude that keeps us strongly rooted in contentment.

There is a paradox to contentment. The more we seek it or need it to look a certain way, the more it eludes us. That’s because discontent is a rejection of reality. It fosters the illusion that another experience is available. Sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we’re simply bored, sad or impatient. The irony is that in accepting the reality of the moment, no matter how disagreeable, it gets us closer to contentment.

The importance of self-discipline is up next.

Beams of gratitude to Deborah Adele for her wisdom and inspiration.

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