Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself. – Coco Chanel.
Want the secret to happiness?
Well, it certainly isn't compare yourself to everyone else! Comparison can be dream-killing, anxiety-inducing, friendship-destroying and soul-crushing. And in this modern age of social media and putting our best self forward, often times we are comparing our worst self with everyone else's best.
But it begins with even the most basic judgements about ourselves and the world around us. In order to "chunk" the world into process-able pieces, we generalise a lot of information. In order to be able to define things, we need comparison, right? These two dogs are both dogs! I am sure they both bark (though one may be more of a yap), they both the DNA for DOG. And yet, when we put them next to each other, we can start to compare... big / small, tall / short etc. But without the comparison, they are just dogs.
So when you are making judgements about your appearance, your skills, your abilities, your strengths, your weaknesses... in fact all judgements about yourself. What are you comparing to? Are you comparing your expertise to someone who has been in the field 20 years longer than you? Are you comparing your physique to someone who is naturally more muscular? Are you comparing using those SHOULD, COULD, WOULD's? They can be TOXIC!
And what about when you're making judgements about others? Remember, if you can spot it, you've got it! Others are merely just a reflection of us. That's both good and bad! So if you see someone else's intelligence, wit, humour, sexiness... you have that within you (maybe its a trait your not currently honouring, but it's there). And if you spot someone else and are judging them harshly, what aspects of you are they reflecting that you don't like? I can promise, it's always about you... your own inner filters of the world, your beliefs, values, experiences etc.
And if you're off comparing what others have or do, it takes the gratitude and appreciation off the blessings in your own life and cause discontentment and in-congruence. Energy flows where your attention goes. If you're energy is all focused outward and fuelling internal negativity, their grass will only get greener as yours withers. Instead, if you think the grass is greener, spend some time weeding your own landscape, nurturing yourself and notice how easily your own life will flourish.
Bring some attention back to you. Your own unique strengths, your own unique skills and talents, sprinkle gratitude over what you already have and do. Need a bit of perspective? If you made $1500 last year, you're in the top 20% of the worlds income earners! But does that make you happier than them?
Not happy with your body? What can you appreciate about it? What about the magnificent marvel of intricate systems that it is that allow you to wake up and move each day? Your eyes that allow you to read this email, your heart that pumps the blood all around your body. You are truly amazing!
In Yoga, there is a term, Santosha. The Sanskrit word santosha is divided into two parts: sam, meaning completely or entirely, and tosha, meaning acceptance, satisfaction, and contentment. Together they create a word that means complete acceptance or contentment. Santosha can be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, particularly if your personal story is filled with negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” “I’m too this, or not enough that…”
Does this mean that we should just accept our lives now and not strive to be better? Hell, no! I am all for growth and betterment! But it's accepting things as they are now, realising that peace and happiness are within us, that we are so much more than what our ego seeks! When we rely on things which are external to us to bring us freedom, we inevitably bind ourselves to discontentment even more.
You are enough. Right now, as is. You always have been and always will be.
With nothing to compare yourself to, aren’t you perfect? — Byron Katie
3 tips to practicing santosha in daily life:
1. Get mindful: notice the times you are ‘living’ in the future or the past and bring your conscious awareness to what you are doing in this moment.
2. Meditate: daily meditation – in whatever form that is for you – helps bring the mind into the now and find contentment in the present.
3. Get grateful: when you find yourself pining for what you don’t have, stop and focus on something you do have in your life that you are grateful for. It’s impossible to be discontent when you are truly grateful. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3 things each day with you are grateful for
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