Santosha is a state of serene contentment, equanimity and fulfilment. It shouldn't be confused with happiness, as we can be in difficult circumstances and still remain in peace, with the reality of the being inside of us. It should also not be confused with complacency, in which we allow ourselves to stagnate in our growth.

Through Santosha we start to feel a genuine acceptance of things and people as they are, without the pressure of our expectations. Otherwise our mind is systematically comparing experiences (past vs. present and also us vs. others), undermining them and setting expectations. So even though we may be facing something joyful, if the mind compares it to a previous experience that was more joyful, the present one gets diminished. We have a relationship that has lots of great things, but if it lacks something we had before (or someone else has), we get a sense of disappointment, instead of exploring all of its potential. So we seek the next one, and do the same.

Another pattern of our mind is to get uninterested. We come into a house that has a beautiful smell, we are delighted for one minute, and then we cease to feel it: our brain filters it out. We take a bite of some food we really like, feel pleased for a few seconds, then we get used to it and our mind drifts off to other thoughts for the rest of the meal. As the current experience loses interest, we look for the next interesting thing ahead… next phone, next tablet, next car… And we are never satisfied, as the cycle of human desire knows no end.

A key point for Santosha is to be able to appreciate things. For instance, it is usually not until there is a power cut that we value electricity. As we flip the switches and the lights don’t turn on, have to wash the dishes as the washing machine is not functioning, or freeze because the heater is not working, we remember how good it was to have electricity. But the moment it comes back, we forget. With Santosha we realise how lucky we are to feel healthy, to have oxygen, etc. rather than taking things for granted.

If we have an internal locus of control, it is possible to sustain this feeling for long amounts of time, as external factors do not impact us as much. Otherwise we function like a pendulum, feeling very happy at times, sad at other times, excited/apathetic, interested/bored, engaged/un-motivated. Without the proper vigilance, our egos can take us away from experiencing the beauty of the present moment, and can pull us towards lower vibrations (e.g. materialism), losing our connection with our higher self and its resonances.