It’s April! This has always been my favorite month – it’s even better this year because today, the first, falls on a Monday. For me, the first on a Monday is just a sign to start something new.
We have a new Niyama (personal observance) to focus on – Santosha. Santosha is made up of two Sanskrit parts: sam meaning completely or entirely and tosha meaning acceptance, satisfaction or contentment. Santosha means complete satisfaction or entirely content with ourselves and with others. Like me, you might be thinking how does one obtain this? This is a tough concept. I have been on the receiving end of negative feedback; being told I could do better, how I was showing up wasn’t enough or that I wasn’t professional. All those things do not allow me to feel content or even close to satisfied. Instead, they feed into my doubts of lacking. I am grateful to have very appreciative practitioners and teaching yoga leads to a lot of accolades after class. Yet, even with the recognition and gratitude from students taking my classes, I still focus on the negative comments, I focus on the students that get up and leave in the middle of class, the students that tell me my music is too loud, who see me teaching and turn the other way, and who never show up for class again. With this focus, how could I ever be completely satisfied??
As humans, our brains function with “negative bias”. Our brains are built to have greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. I’ve read that the ratio of positive to negative feelings to create balance is five to one and positive events more likely to tip the scale are frequent small experiences. (This is based off studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph.D., then at Ohio State University, now at the University of Chicago.) So lots of little things negate the negative stuff. And despite what we may think, it’s not the one big positive event, it’s all the small frequent ones.
So – how do we get content? How do we become satisfied? How do we obtain acceptance? Let’s start today with doing little things, turning the five small things into 10, 20, 30, etc. Doing small things for ourselves, for others and reaping the benefits. I can tell you this, I experience Santosha a lot, but not consistently all day, week, or month long. Which just reminds me, this journey is step by step – pade pade. A few years ago I lead a “pay-it-forward” challenge, and was overwhelmed with the outpouring of people that wanted to participate. Let’s make this our focus for April. It’s just groups of five small positive events throughout the day. Let me know if it makes a difference.
And I almost ended without an April Fools joke! Maybe that’s why I love April so much. One of the things I love most about April Fools jokes is that it’s a great reminder not to be so serious – which definitely helps with being more completely satisfied. How about not taking everything so seriously today and see how much you can laugh at?