I don't hide the fact that I'm addicted to self-improvement podcasts and books. I calculated that over the last 10 years, I've read over 250-300 books in this genre. My husband keeps asking why I can't read fiction. I used to devour fiction, but somewhere in my mid-30's I made the switch and haven't looked back.
Surrounding myself with these personal development resources is akin to watching home improvement shows all the time and hanging out at Lowe's. If that's your jam, you'll probably be visiting a friend and notice things about their house that need to be remodeled or repaired. You probably have a hard time not redoing your own home frequently. You might be the type to repaint your rooms often or rearrange the furniture. Well, I'm that way with self-help.
I'm always striving to improve myself ad urging others towards changes for the better, but for my husband, he sees it as discontentment. He'll urge me to be just "be still". He's like, "Why do you need to go learn this new energy healing technique or why do you want to go off to this mind/body retreat? Why can't you sit home on your day off and do nothing?"
I don't know the answer other than this is how I'm built. My mom even said she noticed it from a young age. Some people like my mom are wired differently. She's not a Pollyanna-type person, but she is content.
I came across a word when I was in yoga teacher training called santosha. This term describes one part of the 8 limbs of yoga. Santosha can be described as "contentment". It means to accept and appreciate what we have and who we are already and to move forward from there.
I like that it involves moving forward. The key to realizing Santosha is 1) non-attachment and 2) appreciation of the NOW.
So what do you do if you feel this twinge of discontentment but can't pinpoint why? On the outside, everything appears to be going great. Yet. Yet there's something there that doesn't sit right with your inner GPS.
When you need a teacher, they appear. Or so the saying goes. When I was writing this, it was in the form of my favorite life coach, Martha Beck. I was on a group call with her and she taught us about our body compass. She says this technique works great because a) the body doesn't lie and b) you always have your body handily available.
Here's how it works: Think of something you have to do this week or today. It might be an errand, an obligation, anything on your schedule. Now imagine you're doing this thing. How do you feel? Notice the inside of your body. Does it feel light, heavy, excited, dread, boredom? Then rank the feeling on a scale from -10 (horrible) to +10 (freakin' fantastic). Most of your things might be neutral, but this activity surprised me. I was volunteering to help with a popsicle party at the park for the 3rd graders. I ranked it way down there. It wasn't a -10, but it was definitely a negative. It turns out I didn't want to do it, I was doing it out of guilt and obligation.
The next step for all those negative rankings is to decide if you will barter it, bag it, or better it. If you barter it, you'll trade. I might have hired my sitter to go to the park instead. If I'd chosen to bag it, I would've bailed on the whole event. If I'd chosen to better it, I may have done things to make the situation better (see if one of my good friends would be there, take a latte to sip on, take headphones and a podcast in case I was bored).
If you're more like me than my mom and feel like something isn't sitting well with you in your life but you're having a hard time figuring out what it is, then this activity is worth doing. In fact, do it every single day for a couple of weeks. For the items 8 or higher, practice doing these more often. If there are no 8, 9, or 10's, ask yourself why. A life without joy isn't much of a life.