“Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.”
Take a moment to fill in the blank:
My life would be better if _________________________.
I will feel successful when I ________________________.
If only ___________________, then I’d be happy.
There have been many times in my life when I believed that the secret to my happiness was “somewhere out there”. Just the other day for example, I had a moment where I honestly believed that my life would be greatly improve if only I bought a pair of $200 pants from Anthropologie. I mean, I NEEDED those pants. My future happiness depended on it! But, I didn’t buy the pants. And surprisingly enough, my life didn’t fall apart on the spot. After I left the store with my bank account intact, I took a walk in the park, found a sunny patch of grass and laid on my back to watch the clouds. And in that moment, I felt truly happy.
In this media driven society and in a city like New York especially, we are continually surrounded by people who are more talented, have more money, wear hipper clothes, have hotter bodies or prettier faces or cooler hairstyles… And we want what they have. We hold ourselves up beside them in comparison, and we feel bad when we inevitably don’t measure up. But of course! How can we feel happy when we continue to feel that we aren’t good enough just as we are?
Yoga has the power to teach us sustainable happiness – The second of the eight limbs of yoga is the Niyamas, translated as the observances or how we treat ourselves. One in particular, the second of the five Niyamas is Santosha or practice of contentment. When we let go of our desire for something someone else has or something outside of ourself, we step ever closer to finding true contentment and happiness. Santosha requires our willingness to enjoy exactly what each day brings and to be happy with whatever we have, whether that is a lot or a little. It requires daily practice, but over time, we uncover the hollowness of achievement and acquisition; while material wealth and success aren’t evil, we learn that they can never in themselves provide contentment.
This doesn’t mean killing your ambitions or life dreams – Santosha instead helps you destroy all the unnecessary ambitions – things you don’t need. Without the mindless chatter of desire and longing, you have more energy to work on your dreams and ambitions with a pinpointed mind.
Get started on your path towards contentment right now – begin by focusing on your breath. With your eyes closed, allow yourself to feel whole and perfect, just as you are, right at this very moment – not once this or after that, but exactly as you are right now. Carry that with you as you move though your day and keep in mind that you, yourself, exactly as you are, are supremely beautiful.
Yoga Pose for Contentment:
In this pose, your back hand is reaching into your past, your front hand is reaching into your future and your body is firmly rooted in the present moment. Breathe and connect with where you’ve been, looking towards where you’re going, but remain in the now, feeling the sensations in your body and mind.