Arts & Crafts Magazine

Contentment, Blogging, and Three Things.

By Laharris1
Contentment, blogging, and three things.
I was in my yoga class the other day when I heard my teacher bring up the topic of contentment

--otherwise known as Santosha.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hopelessly drawn to the idea of contentment. The mere word makes me go soft inside, and I immediately think of an existence without all my worries. I think of calmness and ease—two qualities that I have to work hard for—because the truth is, I am one of those people that gets a certain vision in my head of how things are ‘supposed’ to go; and I get comfortably attached to that vision. I like to plan out things in my head—creative and noncreative-- and then without realizing it, I want life to happen the way I plan it.

Does all this sound like a sanitized version of controlling behavior?Ok. I own that.Although I think I’m getting better. My yoga practice—which was deepened by my 200 hour teacher training experience--has been a total game-changer in my life. On this evening, while I listened to Shannon begin the class with a brief discussion of contentment, I had one thought inside the darkened, heated room. “Ahh…this is why I come to my mat.” I don’t practice yoga with the goal of achieving certain postures (called asanas) or for the strong, fit body which I do appreciate, the reason I practice vinyasa yoga is because it’s one the of the ways I nourish my soul. It’s the meditative feeling I get from my synchronized breath and movement. But even more.I’m fascinated by Patanjali’s eight limbed path, a way of living that adds another dimension to what happens on my yoga mat.The topic of contentment— is part of the Niyamas—five guidelines that have to do with the relationship we have with our Self.I think of the Niyamas as a chance to be curious about myself and to become more self-aware.So what did I hear that evening that I liked so much?This beautiful description.Santosha means pure contentment; it is the feeling that happens when we stop craving “things” we don’t have. It is the sensation of bliss that is possible when we stop believing that things outside ourselves--possessions, events, status-- will make us happy. Contentment happens when we honor all our experiences--our joys and our struggles without needing to judge and label these. We accept our life joyfully, as it is right now. We know that everything we need for happiness is already here, inside us.So.Can you imagine waking up each day feeling this way?  Because although I have fleeting glimpses into this version of contentment, I also realize how much I need to grow. And after this class I jotted down some thoughts on this topic and identified ‘red flags’ that move me away from contentment in my own daily life.Maybe you can relate.

Three things that keep us from feeling contentment.

1.   “I’ll be happy when this happens…”

You can inject your own personal word into this sentence but it’s the mindset that is the point.
Personally, I’ve been noticing how often this sentence pops up in my life and I see it as an uncomfortable part of living in a house that’s considered a fixer upper.
What I’ve noticed is that living in a house that’s the focus of constant change and ‘beautifying’ gets me –too easily--into a state of dissatisfaction. For me, it’s the dark side of being a home improvement DIYer. You develop this keen set of eyes that immediately zero in on the ‘problems’ –eyes that habitually identify everything you dislike about your surroundings because it doesn’t fit your aesthetic vision.
 Truthfully, this is the part of living in our new home which makes me queasy. Sometimes I purposely step away from posting about my house projects because I need a break from that mindset. I don’t like it when I become too focused on nit-picking my house because it makes me feel ungrateful.

Again, this is just my experience, maybe you have a totally different view.

2.   Comparing ourselves to others with judgment.
This is another way we drift farther from contentment; whether you compare yourself and end up feeling worse, or use others to elevate yourself, making comparisons is just plain yuck behavior.

 And it has a powerful effect on our psyche.On the yoga mat this is easy to identify; it happens when we look over and see someone getting into a physically difficult pose and feel instantly deflated because we can’t do it. But I’ve discovered that the yoga mat is a metaphor for what happens in real life. And we can catch ourselves making similar comparisons during our day.

I do this with blogging; I notice that too much blog hopping on designer blogs makes me feel discouraged. Instead of inspiring me it feels depleting. In fact, I recently questioned whether I want to keep blogging about my house projects period, because there’s something that happens when you share your projects on a blog. You become acutely aware of how long things take to finish. And for me, there’s a sense of everything being in slow motion when I’m posting about a project. Suddenly I’m aware of the number of days I’ve been working on something, and I’m sure it’s because I’m seeing so many amazing bloggers/designers begin and finish projects in record times. Even though I realize it’s like comparing apples and oranges—I don’t even consider mine a design blog per se, it does feel distorting.
3.   Perfectionism—the one red flag that seems pretty obvious.
The more we’re fixated on achieving perfectionism at something, the more at risk we are of feeling discontented...disenchanted…self-critical, you pick the word. Without realizing it, this is another red flag that affects the creative things I do. My photography is one area that I get relentlessly picky about and this often leads me to actually postpone my blog posts. I’m just too dissatisfied with the shots I’ve taken.
It really is a slippery slope: the struggle to have high expectations in our work and creative endeavors, while maintaining a sense of contentment that is NOT attached to our (latest) finished project.

Do you know what I mean?I always love to hear what you think...


What do you do that keeps you from feeling contented? 
xoLeslie

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