what to do when good & bad things happen at the same time


Living in Austin has been wonderful so far.

In a lot of ways, making a big move like this is truly allowing us to set the proverbial “reset button.” As quickly or slowly as we feel like it, we can reincorporate aspects of our old life here and start new habits as well.

One of the new habits I’ve wanted to cultivate in Austin is yoga.

I’ve done it on and off since high school, but wasn’t really digging the workout-focused classes that I went to with friends in Chicago.

Coming here, I knew I wanted to find a class that not only was physically beneficial, but mentally as well.

Thankfully, I happen to live just over a mile away from a fantastic yoga studio with this more spiritually minded slant.

In my first class last week, the teacher discussed the concept of santosha, which means contentment, or harmony.

As he went deeper into the term, he explained that santosha involves using the word “and” rather than “but” to describe our circumstances.

Contentment is not achieved, in a santosha sense, by only having “good” things in our lives.

Santosha is about allowing the good and the bad circumstances in our lives to live together without overshadowing one another.

Imagine that you have one good thing happening right now in your life sitting in your left palm. Hold it there in your mind’s eye.

Then, imagine one not-so-good thing in your life right now in your right palm. Hold it there in your mind’s eye.

The trick is to sit there with both experiences in open palms – without clinging to the good with your fist, nor crushing the bad with your fist.

We simply allow each experience in both hands to co-exist.

While this might sound a little theoretical, it is extremely practical.

Here are a few examples of how we might normally think about our circumstances day to day:


I am healthy, BUT the cellulite on my thighs is more noticeable.

I love my job, BUT I’m not in a relationship and that makes me really sad.

I finally started that business I always dreamed of, BUT it’s not successful enough to take-full time yet.


These “buts” cast shadows over the good in our lives. They seem to negate the positive.

Of course, we could always try to invert this scenario and use the positive to block out the negative… but that doesn’t always feel genuine. It doesn’t give ourselves permission to experience our full range of emotion.

On the other hand, santosha allows each circumstance, good or bad, to exist without negating one another.


I love my daughter deeply, AND her temper tantrums really wear me out.

The weather is beautiful today, AND my boss is difficult to deal with.

I finished my third marathon, AND I didn’t finish in the time I wanted.

That meal was spectacular, AND the waiter wasn’t kind.


For the next week, try noticing every time that you are tempted to complain internally or aloud about a circumstance.

As you notice those little annoyances pop up, try to complete the sentence by adding, “… AND, [insert a positive circumstance in your life here].”

It can create a more balanced awareness and ultimately, contentment.

In a world of “buts,” choose “and.”


May something wonderful happen to you today,


PS – I am working behind to scenes on getting Life With Intention Online 2.0 up and running! I’ll be sharing more details in the next few weeks, but you are interested in special bonuses too, sign up for more info here.


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  1. This is lovely and a very realistic way to give the good things in our lives as much weight as we give the bad, and in fact balance them out. We all know that there will always be good and bad, but it’s learning how to take it in stride and appreciate every day for being what it is: a new day of experience. Thanks for this!

  2. Kristina

    I love the idea of thinking in “ands” instead of “buts”. I strongly believe that we couldn’t fully appreciate the happiness in our lives if we didn’t know what sorrow felt like.
    So good for you that you found a yoga studio that is to your liking! I have’t practiced it in a while but I am determined to start again in the fall. It is so good for the balance between body and mind!

    1. Jess Lively

      Very true. It takes both ends of the spectrum.

      I hope you find a yoga place that suits you. : )

  3. Tara

    Glad you are enjoying Austin I loved living there! Here are my top 3 recommendations.
    1. Get Veggie Nachos at Shady Grove Asap.
    2. Go to Mount Bonnell and do your fav yoga pose.
    3. Do Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lady Bird Lake, so fun!
    Also hopefully someday you do one of your intention classes in Houston sometime. We do have a lot of young business people here who Im sure would enjoy them including myself! Enjoy the adujustment to Austin. I appreciated this read today definitely hit home with how I am feeling with my move to Houston. 🙂

    1. Jess Lively

      Amen! I still need a good nacho place! So far I’ve been pretty disappointed with Austin nachos and I’m not a big queso fan. So I’m pumped to try someplace that does them well. : )

      I also need to do the paddle boarding! I think we might try this weekend, actually. : )

      I’ll also keep Houston in mind!

  4. Margie

    One thing I didn’t notice you mention yet was how you planned to transition into having both of you working from home. Very curious about what conversation you had ahead of time about that change, and a look at the reality of the first six week as you settle in.

    1. Jess Lively

      Thanks for the suggestion, Margie! I haven’t mentioned it in part because the story isn’t super interesting so far: Mr. Lively worked from home about once a week before we left, so we were kind of already used to it. Now that we are here full-time, he has his own office area off the kitchen and I work in the guest room or at a coffee shop.

      So far, my own rhythm has been harder to handle than working specifically with him. The first week felt harder to focus, since he was around and it all felt so new and novel. But now that is wearing off and I’m more focused on my own routine.

      Currently, we have done a few lunches together a few times a week if it works out for our schedules. Otherwise, we try to leave each other alone in the mornings and afternoons during work hours. : )

  5. This was so helpful to read and really struck a chord. It seems so simple, but it is such a fresh perspective to me. Thank you!

  6. Eliza SJ

    What perfect timing that you wrote about this today because I was just talking to my guy last night about something not so far off *Santosha.* I guess the starts are aligned/the universe is trying to tell me something 😉

    Also super duper excited about your Life With Intention Online 2.0 class. Literally keep checking the page to see if there’s any news, even though I signed up for the email updates at the beginning of the summer haha!

    1. Jess Lively

      : ) It’s funny when that happens, isn’t it?

      That is wonderful to hear! I’m sorry it’s taken longer than I expected. Moving in and adjusting while keeping up with the podcast, podcast editing, emails, and posts have taken up more time than I expected!

      1. Eliza SJ

        It is funny indeed! 🙂 And I hope my excitement about the course didn’t come off as a criticism 😮 it occurred to me afterward that you could have interpreted it as a jab or something. Wasn’t my intention at all.

        1. Jess Lively

          Oh, no not at all!! I took it as an amazing inspiration — people are actually as excited as I am to get this thing on the road. Never took it as a jab at all, just a big hug and encouragement. : ) Love you!

  7. Chicspace/Marguerite

    I just saw your IG post. And you’re going out to dinner :).

    I had something bad happen today that has me really upset. Weirdly I woke up this morning thinking it was going to be a bad day, and have been trying to counteract it most of the day by thinking of positive things (which is kind of a reverse “but”). So reframing to “and” AND trying to think of something super positive to go WITH this bad thing (it’s nothing truly life-altering, but it’s definitely something I’ll have to deal with for a few years). Thanks for the opportunity to reframe.

    1. Jess Lively

      Too funny! You were right; we were out to dinner!

      I’m sorry to hear you had that ominous feeling, and that something did actually happen. BUT, like you said, using ‘and’ to face these issues we both have can really help soften things.

  8. Love this way of thinking Jess and such a great way to re-frame your thoughts. It’s super easy to get bogged down in the negative, but regardless there’s always something equally positive happening. It’s all about perspective, right? Glad to hear your move to Austin went well + you’re loving your new city!

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you, Rachel! We are totally loving our new city and we are so grateful we made the change.

  9. Adeline

    Hmm very good point – I’m guilty of a lot of ‘buts’, I’ll try this technique. Thanks for the post! I’ve heard good things about this studio and it’s on my list of things to do the next time I’m in town.

    Talking about yoga, I’d recommend BKS Iyengar’s book “Light on Life”. He talks about asanas/poses but there is a lot of really lovely, insightful
    comments about awareness and consciousness. It’s the type of books you can pick up at several phases of your life and always find something that applies to how you approach your day. (“Light on Yoga” is another good one by him that I read when I was doing my teacher training and liked a lot, but it’s more practice-focused)

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you for these book recommendations, Adeline! I’m always on the lookout for good books to add to my morning reading list!

  10. aimee @ small eats

    I don’t know how you do it, but you always just seem to talk about things right when I need them. I got bad news from a friend yesterday and there is little I can do to really help the situation besides be there for her (which is hard!).
    This post, like your Intention tattoos, reminds me that both good and bad happen, and that’s okay. Thanks Jess <3

    1. Jess Lively

      I’m sorry to hear that your friend had a hard time, but being there I’m sure was very helpful for her.

      And I’m glad the timing of this post happened to help you, as well. : )

  11. Diana

    this post made me smile. I also went to a yoga class several years ago where the teacher spoke of santosha, and that the more time you spend thinking about what you don’t have, the less time you’ll have to appreciate what you do have. These words gave me the eventual push to quit my job that was sucking the life out of me, and find a new role where I could travel the world and do something that while I may not always enjoy it, I feel like I am adding value. It also inspired me to have “santosha” tattooed on the inside of my wrist as reminder to take a step back, breathe, and appreciate the things/people I am lucky to have in my life.

    1. Jess Lively

      Bravo, Diana! Way to follow your gut and have a balanced view on your new, wonderful career.

      I love that you had Santosha tattooed to your wrist… it makes me wonder if I should add the word to the temporary intention tattoo packs, too! : )

  12. Jess Lively

    Love it, Kristen!! I adore that you made it a habit intention. That’s really living the santosha way. : )

    I’ve never heard of DailyOM, but I’ll check it out. Thank you!

  13. Maryn

    This is wonderful Jess! It speaks perfectly to my life right now. I’m feeling really strong about my work but my relationships need a little work. I mean “and” 🙂

    1. Jess Lively

      Exactly! Bravo for catching that but!

      Now, Mr. Lively and I actively listen for those ‘buts’ in our conversations and say the word (really exaggeratedly): santosshhhhaaaa when we catch it. : )

      Maybe you want to try it too!

  14. Jocelyn / The Inner Interior

    Dear Jess,

    Just the other day I was asking for a blog just like yours to be revealed to me and I happily stumbled upon yours today! This post particularly stands out to me. One of my daily practices is to be aware of my words and how they transform my day. I actually added this principle into my Mindful Blogging talk at The Hive Conference back in May which was held in Copenhagen. Exchanging “but” with “and” is one single practice that has helped me in so many ways and it is wonderful to see it written from your perspective! I appreciate the way you share from your experience and allow others to join the flow….

    I look forward to more posts and wish you a wonderful day!


    1. Jess Lively

      That’s fantastic to hear! I’m glad you found my site, after hoping that you would, and that you already have a similar approach to life already!

      Cheers and welcome!

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend. : )

  15. Carolyn

    I started replacing “but” with “and” yesterday after reading this and have felt SUCH a shift already. Thank you so much for sharing this idea.

  16. SEM

    Love this! And these sneak peeks of your new place are killing me. How do you find such cute rentals? I think each apartment/house has topped the next! …Of course, your designer’s eye it what really makes them. 🙂

    1. Jess Lively

      Lol! I think it’s a combination of:

      – price point (we often get what we pay for)
      – looking for a long time with high expectations (I said during this search I was looking for my ‘unicorn’ rental home.)
      – getting really lucky (this was the third unicorn home I found over three months of searching online every single day – and it came from an MLS search that a real estate agent did for us.)

  17. Kelsey Finkle

    Love this and definitely something I will try and do this week – so thanks for the inspiration. I’m glad you found a yoga studio that fits. What got me hooked on yoga in the first place was definitely the mental benefits over the physical.

    1. Jess Lively

      That’s great to hear, Kelsey. I hope it helps you this week!

      And yes, we totally share similar views on yoga as well. : )

  18. Jessica

    I love this. I am so totally using this for now on. I use “BUT” too many times.

    1. Jess Lively

      That’s great to hear!! : ) It’s quite eye-opening when you start to pay attention this in our thoughts and conversations.

    1. Jess Lively

      I’m glad you liked this concept, Emily! I hope it helps you going forward to keep ‘and’ in mind. : )

  19. Namrita

    Wow, I just realized that I was practicing santosha and deriving peace from it without even knowing it: I recently finally was able to take a painful experience from my past and understand that two things could be true about it at the same time (the whole ‘AND’ part). Repeating this has given me so much calm and understanding. Now I realize why! It’s a real practice!

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