Harder Than It Needs to Be

gandhilosefindThere’s the good kind of “losing yourself”, and the kind that isn’t so good for you. When we lose ourselves in something we’re doing, when we cease to think, categorize, or judge, but are simply immersed in the joy of what we’re doing, that’s beautiful, powerful, and liberating. The ability to join the flow, to forget about the small self for a time, the one that’s so attached to “I, me, mine”, and just to breathe and to open and to experience, that’s one of the greatest joys we have as human beings. To lose yourself because you’re trying to be something other than what you are…that’s the opposite end of the spectrum. You’re not in the flow, in fact, you’re swimming against it.

Doubt, fear and shame can keep you stuck, or send you spinning. They’re perfectly natural feelings we’ll all have from time to time, but if they’re ruling your life, you’re going to be in a world of pain. If you doubt your own worth, if you don’t have a strong sense of your center, if you aren’t feeling good about who you are, you’re in a precarious position. A strong wind (or person) can knock you flat on your back, or pull you under like a current. You can lose years that way, following someone else’s ideas about what you should be doing, or feeling or wanting; we all need a “true north.” You can call that your intuition; it’s certainly related to knowing yourself, understanding what it is that feeds you, that inspires you, that lights you up.

It’s totally possible that you’ve grown into adulthood without a clear sense of what you need to be happy, people do it all the time. We really aren’t helped culturally, because we’re taught that we’re against each other, that we’re in some epic battle where only the strongest survive and you have to compete to be top dog, and we’re also taught to search for happiness externally, as if a huge house could ever make you happy. A huge, empty house full of shiny stuff. Snore. A perfect body. Snore again. A fast car or an overflowing bank account. Snore, snore, snore. I’m not saying those things can’t be fun, I’m just saying if that’s all there is, it’s empty. A house full of love, yes. A body you treat with respect, beautiful. A car full of the laughter of those you love as you drive with the windows down, brilliant. A bank account so you can take care of yourself and those you love, yes. Beyond that? That is not the stuff that makes us happy.

When we don’t know who we are, it’s easy to get caught up in the chase, “I’m not happy, I need to do something. I’ll diet. Or I’ll chase down a relationship. Or I’ll keep myself so busy, I don’t remember how miserable I am unless it catches up with me in a random, unplanned moment.” Life is precious. You are precious. You have your gifts. You may not have uncovered them yet, but they’re there, because no one else is you. You aren’t here to meet someone else’s criteria. Really. If you spend a lot of your energy trying to win the approval or love of other people, you’ve gotten confused along the way. Approve yourself. Act on your own behalf. Follow that fire in your belly, even if it doesn’t “make sense.” Do what you love, and find a way to use your gifts to help other people, to uplift them in some way. Then your days will be full of purpose and meaning, and you’ll feel fulfilled and grateful, and you won’t lose years of your life in relationships that drain you and make you feel sick and wanting. Using your gifts in the service of others is gorgeous. Losing your gifts, or repressing them to make someone else feel more comfortable, not so much.

A day when you’ve made someone smile is a good day. A day when you’ve spent some time immersed and engaged in the present moment is a good day. A day when you’ve spent time with people you love, and have let them know it, is also a good day. String a bunch of those together, and you have a good life. We make it harder than it needs to be. Wishing you an awesome day, and the commitment to see those things through that make your heart sing,

Ally Hamilton

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