Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2.42 From an attitude of contentment (santosha), unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction is obtained.
(santosha anuttamah sukha labhah)
Santosha, is one of the Niyamas and means contentment or satisfaction. Santosha refers to being content with your actions and with what you have done or to be content about where you are in your life. When we aren’t content, we feel fearful and restlessness, and those wants and wishes create deep habitual patterns that contribute to our discontent and that discontent drives our actions, speech, and thought. You should not worry about the future or linger in the past. Santosha asks us to practice contentment with ourselves and our lives at the present moment. It is a tranquil state of mind that is not fearful or worried. It is an understanding of the need for balance in one’s life.
That doesn’t mean you stop striving to better yourself. Or to stop planning. We need to plan for things in our future; retirement, budgets, vacation time. Planning is a way to practice Santosha. You don’t have to worry about retirement if you are planning for it. Another way to practice Santosha is to relish the memories from your past but not to wallow in them, not to always be wishing you could change something that already happened. Give up the concept of 20/20 hindsight, learn from your mistakes, definitely, beat yourself up over them, no! It means balance and if you take enough of my classes you know I am always talking about balance. Equanimity.
We can talk about equanimity, balance, contentment, but just exactly how do we create it? Well, true Contentment comes from within. We always seem to be looking for satisfaction from something outside ourselves. So one thing we can do is to slow down for a moment and breathe; when you connect with your breath you can learn to listen to the wisdom of your spirit and from this place of just pausing and being aware of this moment, you can more easily choose to have an attitude of acceptance. An understanding of contentment and what that means for you.
Pranayama, asana, and meditation all help to create new patterns of thoughts and actions and this then we can choose and create a new, more positive habit.