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Camille Styles

Living Kindly

This One Word Will Change Your Outlook on Life

September 15th, 2016

I have to start this post by saying that I love when I learn something new that totally changes my perspective — and it’s usually the simplest ideas that do the trick.

gorgeous sunlight

I speak from the heart when I say that while I preach about Living Kindly, I am often the first person that needs to take my own advice. Stick with me on this as you might relate. Ever catch yourself thinking about what you want to change, even if it’s a positive change? Or constantly setting new goals and thinking about the future? That’s me. My mind moves a mile a minute focusing on personal improvements and changes, that I’m often not satisfied in the moment.

However, that all changed after a 5-day yoga & meditation retreat I attended this past April. Each morning before diving into our yoga practice, we’d sit in a heated room on our mats and have a discussion led by yogi and author, Baron Baptiste. While every talk seemed to open my mind to new ideas, Day 3 was by far my favorite. That’s when Baron introduced us to the idea of Santosha.

He said, “Santosha means to always be content and yet unsatisfied.” The idea that I could be content and unsatisfied at the same time felt very foreign, yet powerful. While on our mats, he was referring to not holding attachment to the fullest expression of a pose, or feeling as if we need to get to that expression. We could be content with whatever pose we were in, even if it wasn’t right.

But off the mat and in my everyday life, Santosha meant so much more. You see, I was used to letting my setbacks motivate me, rather than spend time being content about where I was in the moment. Whether I wanted to be faster on my bike, perform better at work, or — to be blunt — lose more weight, my happiness often hinged on achieving certain goals. I knew that I’d benefit from practicing Santosha and allowing myself to be content in those moments that I felt unsatisfied and wanted more for myself.

beachy casual

Let me tell you, this practice has been a game-changer of epic proportions. I’m still setting goals on a daily basis and thinking 10 steps ahead about where I’d like to go and milestones I want to hit, but by allowing myself to be comfortable in these moments as-is, the weight on my shoulders is gone. It no longer feels like I’ll be content once I hit these goals — it’s happening now. While I’ll always feel like a work-in-progress (and I should if I want to constantly evolve), in the simplest of terms, Santosha helps me find comfort in the discomfort.

Here are the two areas where practicing this idea has helped the most:

Fitness: If you’ve read my column before, you know how important cycling is to me and how much time I’ve spent working to get faster and stronger. I’ve had quite a few days on the bike where my enjoyment was hindered because I couldn’t keep up or push harder. While my glass-half-full attitude always finds a silver lining, it was a struggle to not compare myself to others I rode with, or immediately think about the things I should be better at on the bike. I wish my tactic to pull myself out of this sounded cooler than what I’m about to tell you, but here it goes: I literally say the word Santosha (to myself) when I’m starting to go down that path. Thankfully, I have years of practice knowing my triggers, which usually sound something like this: “Kelly! Ugh! See, if you would’ve just done (more intervals)! Now you need to start doing (a really hard workout)! OK, no more (donuts)!” I have to shut myself up — how weird is that?
The second I say Santosha, these feelings don’t go away — but I now allow myself to just be in the moment. And be ok with wherever I am. It’s as if I have two positive voices sitting on each shoulder while I’m riding. One is telling me I need to set goals to get better and the other one whispers, “FYI, you’re good as you are right now.”

Sounds silly. . . but it works for me.

Personal Life: At the beginning of 2016, I talked a little about reading Marie Kondo’s book (you know, she talks about decluttering and tidying up). Well, I finally dived straight in to the process and I will admit — it’s a process. It’s an even bigger process as I have a huge wardrobe to sift through from my LA Publicist days and an obscene amount of makeup products from my days working as a makeup artist. I can envision the end goal: minimalist aesthetic, quality items, and only the key staples that make me happy. But let me tell you, the process has been daunting and I’ve had to work very hard at being content in the moment. Knowing it’s going to be a process (Kondo says that it can take up to 6 months) has actually provided a bit of solace. In the past, I couldn’t imagine spending time with friends knowing I had a disorganized messy closet that required my attention. And I certainly wouldn’t have carved out time to go for a bike ride or read a book knowing that I had 5 years of dresses to rifle through. Practicing Santosha and finding happiness in that middle ground — the area between contentment and satisfaction — has made me realize that changes don’t always happen immediately.

Isn’t it crazy that one word can carry so much power and make you look at your life differently? For me, life is so much more enjoyable that even when everything else is proverbial mess, I can allow myself to be content.

image 1 by @KacieCone via Free People; image 2 from j. crew

sharp_KellyKrause

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30 Comments under :: This One Word Will Change Your Outlook on Life
  1. Libbynan says:

    Thank you for this. I am going through some un-asked-for life changes right now and I tend to think I’m not doing it very well. It helps to realize that I’m doing as well as can be expected and that I will do better as things go on. You are right. This is a life-changing concept.

    • Kelly Krause says:

      It reminds me of the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination,” but this takes it a step further & helps to be content in that journey. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nicole says:

    Awesome post! I recently quit my job in finance to pursue a career in UX Design. Though things haven’t been exactly lined up (still waiting back from a major university to study UX Design there), you’re totally right about living in the moment. I have always been a person who has always focused on the future and just been so discontent with the present. Thank you for this

  3. Totally agree – I’m a very goal-driven person and I rarely pat myself on the back and recognize the progress I’ve made. I feel like I’ve been getting better with this concept over time, but changing lifelong habits can be tough. Great post.

  4. Jordan Fronk says:

    Thanks for this Kelly! I wrote the word Santosha on a big orange post-it and planted it on my desk 8 years ago. It remains there today and on constant repeat in my mind. It truly encompasses everything and is so comforting. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mavis says:

    Carpe Diem.

  6. Laurie says:

    Not sure why I read on today, rather than skim the article…thank you for sharing and the insight it brought me. I always try to have an attitude of gratitude, but don’t always appreciate me and where I am and have come from…this word is now a staple in my conversation with myself! ????????????

  7. Ellie P. says:

    Excellent post, thank you! I am going to try this out, starting… Now! ?

  8. june jones says:

    Man this hit home, thanks

  9. Allison MacKay says:

    The ability to step back and be objective has helped me deal with PTSD, SELF shamIng, and anxiety, and now I know what to call it! Thank you.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this! Just the past two weeks I have had several instances bring to light the fact that I need to invite (and embrace) much more contentment in my life. As a type A personality, always setting goals and rarely ever content with my achievements (always seeing where I could have reached higher and accomplished more), this is quite the challenge for me! You’ve inspired me to discover my own personal mantra to unlock contentment while still setting and pressing towards goals. Thank you!

  11. Thank you Kelly, This is such a timely post for me. I felt some weight lift as I read it x

  12. Anna says:

    Ooh for once a topic like this was actually accurate. Santosha will be my new life plan, thank you so much for sharing this! I love blogposts like yours, about living your very best life. I’ll definitely try to live by your tips, cause it seems like a great direction to go to!

    A hug from Finland!
    http://www.rantapallo.fi/aduaa

  13. Dawn says:

    Kelly, thank you so much for sharing this! I immediately recognized myself in your words…looking ahead to what I need to do/change/improve, and not being fully present in the moment or being content (even happy) with how far I’ve come. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone in this.

  14. I have also been b= dealing with a great deal of discontentment when it comes to my weight, my personal clutter and where i am in developing my own business. I believe practicing Santosha will help me greatly shift from struggle to gentle progress. Thank you for sharing this marvelois concept!

    • Kelly Krause says:

      It’s a big game changer and I love that it’s something we have the power to control. Thanks for your comment.

      • Allison MacKay says:

        I think you may have mixed up your replies. I thanked you with helping me deal with effects of PTSD. I’m not too worried about my weight!
        Allison

  15. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this post Kelly. I’ve never heard of Santosha before. It’s actually a beautiful sounding word when you say it, so I can see myself using it in the future when things don’t go as planned. I’m an A personality, very goal driven, and I get bored easily. I recently ventured out into the art world posting my watercolor prints online. This was a huge step for me since I never felt my paintings were truly finished. I’ve actually ruined some paintings since I kept going back to them and fiddling … just one more brushstroke. I’ve finally come to the realization that I need to learn to be content with what I’ve accomplished, because sometimes you can overdo it and you don’t know it until it’s too late.

    I’ll be posting the word Santosha in my art studio as a reminder before I go back to fiddle on my paintings.

  16. bonniebweb says:

    So inspiring, this post really resonates with me. I am always striving to reach the end without ever enjoying the journey. I feel like “Santosha” would make a great tattoo!

  17. SusanBoles says:

    Thank you for this post! As a writer working to build my readership while also writing new books I constantly find myself thinking that I need to/must do this, that or the other to get off the ground faster and completely lose track of the fact that I HAVE published books and do have a small readership at this point. I love that and your article reminded me to feel good about those accomplishments as I move toward long term goals.

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