3 Tips to Santosha

Posted May 26, 2014 by Belinda Chiu in Life After Five

The term “golden handcuffs” may seem familiar to many of us. Many of us Career Girls have gone above and beyond to reach parity or “succeed” in tough environments, earning the salary, the title, and the position. We are told to lean in and reach up, seek out the promotions, ask for the raise, purchase the latest technology, and wear the latest trends. 

Yet there often comes a point where we get so caught up in maintaining a certain lifestyle or image of success that we have lost sight of what makes us truly happy, the joy behind why we do the things we do, or the purpose of our chosen career. We often go to extremes for status and power, but that race keeps us feeling empty. We may have all the accoutrements of success, but we resent our obligations to our jobs, our colleagues, or our families. The window dressing of success means little if we are continuously discontented.

To be truly content is hard to do, especially in a society that pushes the desire for more and more. It is not wrong to want for more. But while reaching for goals is essential to continual personal and professional growth, it is different than simply reaching for more and more for the sake of having more and “being more.” Reaching for goals while trying to find santosha is a balance that can help us avoid the golden handcuffs and find success and joy.

What in the world is santosha? It is not a pair of galoshes or a band. It is a yogic notion of being a type of contentment that does not leave one wanting more. Achieving santosha is a peaceful joy where we accept what or who is in front of us, not what we want the what or who to be.

1. Stop comparing

The race for more and more is often a result of trying to out best someone else. When we see a colleague getting promoted or purchasing a bigger house or carrying the latest handbag, we start to feel inadequate until we do the same — but go bigger. We end up with more things than we need — or even want. Because the race doesn’t stop as long as we compare, our threshold for contentment will never be met. The minute we stop comparing — truly comparing — we free ourselves from the race to discontentment.

 2. Define success

Traditional definitions of success are no longer relevant for most of us. Yet we often work towards these old definitions as defined by generations before (and mostly by men). Stepping back and identifying those areas that mean true success to each of us can help us to understand true contentment, which should be different for each person.  

3. Be grateful

We do not give thanks enough. We complain about what doesn’t work, what we don’t have, and why things don’t work properly. We give critical feedback. We forget to thank others when things go right because we expect them to go right (hence, why the need to show gratitude). A culture of identifying what doesn’t work breeds discontentment and doesn’t allow us to appreciate what does work and we do have. Stopping to show gratitude for others and ourselves can help remind us of what it means to be truly content and find the good in what is front of us.

About the Author

Belinda Chiu

Dr. Belinda Chiu is a social change strategist, coach, and facilitator. Like you, she believes that everyone has the transformational ability to reach her potential and beyond. Dr. Chiu incorporates a practice of mindfulness to help individuals harness their natural strengths, achieve results, and carve their own paths towards professional fulfillment. For more tips, subscribe to the monthly newsletter, Why Not? on www.hummingbirdrcc.com or follow on @hummingbirdrcc.