Santosha, or the practice of contentment, is the ability to feel satisfied within the container of one’s immediate experience.
Contentment shouldn’t be confused with happiness, for we can be in difficult, even painful circumstances and still find some semblance of contentment if we are able to see things as they are without the conflictual pull of our expectations.
Contentment also should not be confused with complacency, in which we allow ourselves to stagnate in our growth. Rather it is a sign that we are at peace with whatever stage of growth we are in and the circumstances we find ourselves in.
This doesn’t mean that we accept or tolerate unhealthy relationships or working conditions. But it may mean that we practice patience and attempt to live as best we can within our situation until we are able to better our conditions.
Contentment not only implies acceptance of the present but tends to generate the capacity for hopefulness. This may seem contradictory but is not. When you are equanimous within any situation, this strengthens your faith that there is the possibility of living even more fully.
This possibility is not held out as something to look forward to, nor does it have the negative effect of making you feel dissatisfied until those hopes are gratified.
Rather, the ability to sustain one’s spirits even in dire situations, is proof that a central sense of balance is rarely contingent on circumstances.
And, sustaining hopefulness, even when there are few signs that things win improve, is one very good way of fostering contentment.
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