Santosha: Contentment

“Contentment makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor” – Benjamin Franklin

In general most of us are pretty bad at being content with what we have. We always want more, more and, then some more. Society is constantly feeding us with advertising about all the things we need to have to be happy, to show that we have succeeded, or to simply look good. The trends are changing fast and you better keep up with the latest trends so that you can prove you´re not a failure… or, is there another way?!

This guideline reminds us that we have the power within us. And that when we look outwards for fulfillment we hand over that power to something, or someone else, and that will always disappoint us and keep contentment at least one step (if not several steps) out of reach.

As long as we think satisfaction comes from an external source we can never be content.

There´s a Chinese proverb stating: “People in the West are always getting ready to live.” And I would tend to agree, we´re always waiting for something to happen, for the “next” thing. When we´re kids, we can´t wait until we´re teenagers, then when we´re there, we can´t wait until we´re adults with a job. Then we´re at that job and we´re always waiting and longing for vacation. And before long we begin to wait for retirement. But when is it actually that we live???

When we´re constantly waiting for the next thing in order to be happy, or to start living, to start enjoying life, or when we constantly want more, want newer, shinier, brighter stuff, we´re moving further and further away from contentment. We put ourselves in discontent. We feel that we are lacking. We compare ourselves to the ones who seem to have more, to have it fancier, who seem to be happier. And we want that too. We move ourselves into lack.

Besides this “looking over the fence”, and seeing all the things that are “lacking” in your own life, we often also “hand over the power of our emotional wellbeing” to someone and/or something else. How often, for instance, do you take full responsibility for all of your emotional “disturbances”??? We can always trace our emotional disturbance back to ourselves, if and when we are completely honest.

“If another can easily anger you, it is because you are off balance with yourself”

So how do we move towards contentment, and towards emotional wellbeing? The answer lies in gratitude. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. “Practicing gratitude protects us from our own pettiness and smallness and keeps us centered in the joy and abundance of our own life.“ It´s about us learning to say “thank you, to life”.

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.”