Reflecting On 2019: Why practicing the art of contentment is currently my life’s greatest gain

When we were growing up as kids, the world somehow managed to reiterate that the idea of being successful is to have our lives all figured out by a certain age. This scheme means marrying someone to start a family, have a high paying job, a big house full of extravagant things, a fancy car, and a lavish lifestyle. When I became a young adult, a reality made it clear that I was (and still am) far away from the things that I thought would be the requirement in order to be considered ‘happy’ as a grown-up person.

“Contentment is a great gain,” my teacher in high school from years ago just told our class. He paused right after that sentence with a happy and genuine face. He was so calm as he looked at each one of us in the eyes inside that classroom.

I can’t recall what we were talking about that certain time during that period of Values Education subject. You see, I was still a teenager that hates his haircut and was frantically couldn’t wait to get out of high school, graduate college, start a job and earn all the money in the world for my worldly desires.

That quote has been somehow tattooed on my mind since that day but I never really understood what it truly meant. I was immature and brainwashed by this society. Although somewhere in 2019 while sitting on a lazy afternoon watching the 5:30 P.M. sun as it was going down to the horizon, I felt different.

To help you visualize, I was seated on a random spot along the beach of northern Philippines with the vast golden indigo skies above me, the harmony of the crashing waves, the sound of the seagulls flying freely and away from the noise pollution of the city I grew up in.

Kids, I felt different.

It’s so fucking weird!

It’s like my soul has been switched into a different setting because that exact time, my physical body is talking to my spiritual body as if it was introducing a brand new feeling, “Hey, this is what contentment feels like.”

Fast forward to the latter part of this year 2019, I have been living gratefully and accepting things as they are. I am not very sad anymore. I learned to accept what I cannot change and I learned to love all my flaws. After all, I am just another soul taking a living human body.

Here are some things that I learned this year:

1. Hold the vision. Trust the process.

I started this year without any idea of how my life’s gonna be. Like, aren’t we all? I didn’t know that I was about to give up my stable, quite alright life and that I will be resigning from my job in the Philippines (my career was totally an A-game) and I never would have seen myself that I will be working abroad! What I’m really trying to say here is that no matter where you are in life right now, you are being redirected to your exact calling.

ALSO READ: Barista confession: After 5 years of passion, I am now resigning from my job

So when I was contemplating how my life’s gonna be right after I became jobless, one thing that I’d like to consider is to go back to Ubud in Bali to learn yoga. But I don’t know jack shit about it except in the hopes of finally aligning my chakras for me. And then next thing I know I am sending out my CVs in Dubai and I was about to start a new job as a store manager in a new coffee shop. But I bailed out because the boss and the landlord were having problems with the location.

I’ll be honest, I once considered to be the smart kid that everyone believes in terms of coffee, but I am not that kid at all. I am not good with coffee anymore.

2. Be. Here. Now.

I was scanning through all the Instagram stories that I’ve made for the past few months, and omg, I laughed, smiled and wanted to cry. This year has been record-breaking! I seriously cannot explain how much I went out of my comfort zone.

By reflecting on all the things that I’ve done, I can really say that I really lived for the moments that I can’t put into words. Of course, there were still times when I feel anxious. But if you put into mind that you will never get the same moment twice, you will live differently.

Nothing like waking up to the majestic island of Nusa Penida

Like when I was backpacking in Indonesia during my long due stay in Lombok, I decided to go to a small town on the foot of Indonesia’s 2nd tallest volcano with my Canadian friend but going there will take us about 2 hours driving a motorcycle on the left side of the road. I was a bit skeptical but I can say that I was much more excited so I dropped the fear and just enjoyed the drive! I told myself I will never get to experience it again so why not, right? Arriving at Tetebatu, a sleepy town on the foot of Mt. Rinjani is worth the long stinking drive. Sitting on the veranda overlooking the lush coconut trees rolling out at a distant, I smiled and realized to myself that that was exactly what I’m gonna miss if I didn’t go.

You’ll see Mt Rinjani from our balcony the morning after our spontaneous overnight in Tetebatu Village.

So I said yes to spontaneous night outs even if I have an early shift the morning after. By learning new things even if it’s sometimes out of my league. To meeting people even though I sometimes didn’t feel like it. And just experiencing new things because I know that when I get older, I won’t regret getting both of my legs to suffer for days after running a full marathon. But rather, I WILL regret not to experience running a full fucking marathon when I still can.

My team and I dropped the Sprint Race ranking score to help and guide Jerald, a visually impaired kid (and some other amputees the next race after this one) to help him achieved his goal of finishing a Spartan Race. Now what’s your excuse?
3:30 in the morning, reaching kilometer 30 was indescribable. I was nonstop talking to myself! I feel like K was hallucinating. It was crazy. But I have never been so determined to finish a race.

After all, I thought I was just having fun and didn’t know I am already making phenomenal memories.

3. Feed the spirit and not the pocket

I couldn’t be gladder to be born in a simple loving family. We never had much but my parents made sure that my brother and I always have something to eat, to wear and to sleep. I’m so glad I grew up to enjoy all things money can’t buy: like being together with my family, being compassionate towards everything and to treat all kinds of people, regardless of sex, gender, race, color, and religion equally.

This gave me so much to be contented for. Knowing that no matter how less fortunate I am, I know deep down that my parents raised me to be a good person.

Volunteered to paint houses to make a better community. I miss working with HOPE!

And somewhere during the southeast Asian summer this year, I discovered minimalism. All of a sudden I stopped buying material things. I stopped subscribing to consumerism. So I spent my hard-earned money joining obstacle course racing, I ran a full marathon, I saved enough money to go and know more about myself as I traveled solo into a different country.

It’s all worth it!I never would have seen myself standing here in the desert. Who thought I will end up in Dubai working in a yoga studio? I know it don’t pay much compared to the few offers that were laid in front of my table. But when I found out I get to join all the different yoga classes for free, I was like hell yeah please count me in already!

One of the coolest yogi I know yet! Awesome yoga instructor and a new friend, Ryan. Thanks for being such a big help in my practice buddy!

So I’m currently trying so hard to self-study and practice yoga because I genuinely enjoy it. It feeds my spirit and my heart with healthy energy! Little by little, I read books about it, learning a little more about Buddhism and the words of the Dalai Lama, and with the help of a few yoga instructors that are turning to be very good friends of mine. Guys, if you are reading this, I thank the universe for giving me you as a blessing. I know I’m a slow learner but I learn passionately. And with your energy, someday I will make you all proud. We gonna be rocking the most hardcore asanas alright!

4. There will always be something to be thankful for

Growing up, I never really fit into what society is requiring a boy from my generation should be. I grew up as a sad emotional kid so sensitive about my surroundings. I always pay attention to things, making me look at them from many different perspectives. I can’t say I’ve gone through a lot, but I learned all the lessons that I need. Thankfully enough at an early age, I get to learn how to practice gratitude.

That’s it. No more lengthy explanation. All you gotta do, kids, is to live your life like it’s your last day on earth — and you will be grateful.

At the moment, there are a lot of things that I am grateful for. I thank the universe for being my silent partner this year that against all odds hearing all my wishes even if I hardly even say it. For blessing my days with such complex lessons, for showing and reshowing me how to find my way, for constantly inviting me to learn from yesterday. For not leaving me in the dark, for the clarity.

5. Doing everything quietly and in calm spirit

My life has been such a roller coaster of ups and downs of emotion since I left home and some days as I am mostly alone, I think of how much I love writing. With all these blogs that gave me so much joy, I totally say that I freaking love writing! And all this time I am thinking if I am any good. So I started sending applications applying as a content writer but, unfortunately, nobody believed in me yet. And that’s okay! That doesn’t mean I will stop there.

I know I’m not the best writer but I’m going to write a weird novel and one day it will be published as a book. You will see my name on the covers, “written by Christian Marron Santillan” in bookstores near you and by that time, many years from now, I hope you’ll smile and look back to this very day, “Oh, I remember when he blogged about this when he was still a nobody.”

So here’s to the kids who will never finish first, never get their name in the paper, never finish top 5 and still put up all their heart to what they do and still work their asses off and continue to improve to be the best they can possibly be. I just want you all to know that even if I don’t see you much, I am proud of you even if you’re lacking new news.

I may not see it all now but I trust that it will all become clear. I lift today’s little successes and pray that tomorrow I do better than today, in my thoughts and in my words. Universe, please continue working through me. Continue guiding me and if it’s not for me, let me know as you always do.

Isn’t it comforting to know that 2020 is a new year with zero mistakes in it yet? And it’s a whole decade, kids, a whole new 10 years of new opportunities! We are all gonna be telling a different story soon. We are going to be stronger, wiser and full of life. And I’m hoping and praying that we all make it.

I’m so, so excited to see you all conquer another decade.

So thank you, 2019! You sent me to where I should exactly be. If it weren’t for the closed doors, I wouldn’t be making conversations with a new group of passionate, interesting, and compassionate people.

All my love,

and forever grateful,



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