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What is it to be Happy? Santosa Satatam

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

The second stage of yoga is called Niyama, the principles of self purification (beyond the physical body). One of these principles is Santosa, contentment. To be content or happy becomes a way of being and is a choice that we all have. Santosa (contentment) is not attached to anything but is found within.

Since we are creatures of habits, we sometimes develop habits and patterns of thoughts that have us look at what we are missing or do not have. In this way we feel something is absent, this absence is our contentment.

The saying “the grass is greener on the other side” refers to the tendency of the human mind to see everything else as good, causing us not to feel good about what we have. However, we can see the beauty and appreciate what everyone else has and also feel grateful for what we have as well.

I have journeyed many places and lived in the mountains of the cloud forest for two years with people that were humble in their existence. And with the little that they had, they were so happy and content with their lives. I have also lived in New Jersey and seen people with so much material abundance and despite this abundance, they have been not found happiness.

Happiness and contentment do not come with material wealth. It is important to have the necessities of life such as food on your table and a roof over your head. However, most of us that will be reading this article have these needs fulfilled and still may not feel Santosa Satatam, “contentment constantly”. Happiness is a choice that we have, we can choose to feel happy with what we have and where we are in life now regardless of whether we have material abundance or not.

How can I choose to experience Santosa Satatam, contentment constantly? How can I change this pattern of thought? Start by waking up each morning and writing down 5 things you are grateful for in your life. Notice how difficult it may be to list the five things you are grateful for and notice how this might change as you continue this habit. There are so many simple things in life that go about unnoticed until you train yourself to become aware. The butterflies around a flower, the leaves falling from the trees, the slight breeze that comes when sitting under the heat of the summer’s sun, the life that allows us to experience everything, the air that we breathe are all examples of things that we can feel grateful towards. Once we start to feel gratitude, the energy in our body shifts and allows us to feel happiness within. We realize that happiness does not need to be attached to the big things in life but by focusing on the simplicities in life can help us become in tune with the feelings we have within.

Start to practice this yourself and become aware of any changes in your state of being. Experience how this feeling of happiness is satisfying and removes the feeling of restlessness from your mind. Teach your children and grandchildren to be grateful for the simplicities of life so that they learn that the happiness they feel is not attached to the material things around them but rather something they can find within.

In the broader context of things, experiencing Santosa Satatam allows us to realize life in its simplicity. It provides us the foundation to build upon our practice with yoga, which is the quieting of the fluctuations of the mind. If you are searching for Santosa Satatam, try to start by sitting still, breathing and focusing on the intention of Santosa Satatam.

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