Gratitude and Contentment (Santosha)

Gratitude and Contentment (Santosha)

November 18, 2021

November is one of my favorite months. The weather gets colder and my family hunkers down in the house more. We eat heartier meals in slow cookers and make baked treats more often. I love it because it’s a time where we can slow down a bit and take time to be together as a family. I know you may be thinking who wants this anymore with COVID and such, and yet, I still look forward to this time of the year!

But, for many of us, it can also be the time of business as the holiday season kicks into gear. There are great family and friend celebrations, and joy can abound.  Yet for some people it is a time of loneliness, stress and sadness as all of the parties and celebrations become reminders of what we don’t have. We don’t have the perfect family, the perfect house, the perfect gift, etc. I think you get the picture.

The idea and concept of “thanksgiving” are part of why the actual Thanksgiving holiday is my absolute favorite.  I know it often involves family, but over my life, I have come to understand that family does not have to be the ones you share DNA with. Family can be anyone that actually sees you for who you are and loves you anyway. I am grateful that I have both shared DNA and chosen family that I cherish. As I prepare for this time of year, it has gotten me thinking about gratitude and finding contentment.

There is a yoga concept, Santosha or Contentment that helps me stay centered and thankful Santosha is one of the Niyamas. In yoga, the Niyamas are five practices that help practitioners of yoga stay on a path towards inner strength, clarity and discipline.

Santosha presents us with a paradox of sorts. The paradox is how do we find joy, contentment and gratitude in what we have instead of always seeking. The disturbances in our emotional state when we seek the perfect family, a better house, or maybe that new job will be the thing that will allow me to be happy and content.

It is not inherently seeking that is the problem. Humans are curious creatures by nature and yoga requires a curious mind! Rather, it is finding contentment when we are bored, or impatient or disappointed.

One story that may illustrate this is Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She is seeking something different in her life when she gets swept to Oz. But after all of her adventures, she realizes that she had the power within her the whole time to change her situation and that for her, “There’s no place like home”. She found that she could find gratitude, joy and contentment in her current situation.

I hope wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving holiday, you can find some joy, gratitude and thankfulness. We at Pinnacle are thankful for all of you!

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