The day began like any normal day… awakening to do my daily mediation and Yoga practice, shower, cook a warm bowl of goodness for breakfast, head off to work, and WHAM, “Houston, we have a problem!!!” Out of nowhere I was blind-sided by my employer with a lay-off notice. I had never been in this type of situation before, but it happened and now I have to deal with it.
There are really only two ways to deal with it: react negatively or think positively. I decided to take this as an opportunity in life to expand my horizons, grow and blossom my career into something I love. Most people thought I was crazy to feel so happy about being laid off.
The key to being able to stay positive in situations that may be challenging or tough is to practice the Yogic nayama of Santosha, or inner contentment. Inner contentment is being happy with who, what, and where you are in the here and now. Many times we try to force or will something or someone (or ourselves) to be what we believe to is the “right way.” However, there is no right or wrong way, and the ability to truly understand and live this is a quality that needs cultivation.
So, how do we start cultivating this Santosha? Let’s look at a few ways we can change our views and incorporate this element into our lives:
1. Change your perspective
When we are in a situation that is challenging, many times we are only looking at the small picture instead of the BIG picture. How will this moment effect your life? Will you still be the same person you are even though this thing is happening?
Stepping outside the present and thinking of how it effects the future can make the situation appear much less threatening and allow you to regroup.
2. Don’t fall into outer trappings
The media today shows us an image of what we should try to be. However, this image is just not always attainable. And why would we want everyone to be the same?? We don’t all need to be wearing the best brands, living in big, beautiful homes with cars and boats and money coming out our ears to be happy. Can money buy happiness? Most of the time, people with more money aren’t any happier than the next guy. The important thing to remember is to put value in the experiences we have.
3. Appreciate where you are
Life is constantly changing and if we don’t go with the flow, we aren’t allowing ourselves to see the positive moments in each circumstance. Instead of trying to change something or someone to be a certain way, fall into just being who you are and where you are in this moment.
There is always a positive in any situation, no matter how bleak it may appear. Try and find a few “positive pearls” you can take away from this experience and soon enough you will be on your way to contentment with the now.
4. Find something to work on
Sometimes experiences in life are there to teach us something. If you are in a traffic jam, maybe you are too tense and need to take some time to breathe. If you have piles of work to get done, prioritize and group the tasks and set a time frame to work on each group throughout the day.
In my case, being laid off gave me time to search for a new job that I love while receiving unemployment benefits to alleviate some of the financial burden. Whatever the case may be, try to improve the situation so that you can either rise above it next time or it doesn’t happen again at all.
The experiences we have are only positive or negative because of how we decide to label them. Think about it….say you have a crumpled ball of aluminum foil-what is it? Most would say garbage…. But a cat would think it was a toy. We give objects and experiences the energy of being good or bad, being garbage or a toy! Simply changing the way you look at your situation!
An article in Yoga Journal sums this all up in a quote you can read or recite daily to bring you back to what is true:
“All beings, including myself, are responsible for their own actions.
Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.
Although I wish only the best for myself, I know that my happiness or unhappiness depends on my actions, not my wishes for myself.
May I not be caught in reactivity.”
Also by Joy: 5 Ways to Bring Calmness to Your Day
Related: How to be Fearless in Face of Change
Photo: martinak15 via Flickr