Love is the Best Answer You’re Going to Get

campbellIf it were possible to have irrefutable answers to life’s big questions, I’m pretty sure we’d have them by now. We arrive in this world, and we’re received with love, or we aren’t. We don’t have to worry about a roof over our heads, or we do. We’re afforded an excellent education, or we aren’t. We have a stable home life, or we live in a war zone. We grow up being told what to think, or we’re allowed to make our own way. The possibilities are endless, but we do have some things in common.

We deal with the same parameters, that’s one thing. We’re on this pale blue dot of a planet, and we don’t know how long we get to be here, or how long our loved ones get to be here, either. We don’t know for sure what happens after this. No one tells us the best use of our time and energy, or maybe lots of people do, but we all have to make sense of that on our own. We will all suffer to some degree or another, because this life, even if you have all the advantages in the world, is not an easy gig. It’s wildly interesting, and there’s always the potential for deep love, but along with that comes the potential for knifing loss, and that is not easy to face. We are inherently vulnerable. Some of us will experience the kind of loss that makes us question the point of it all.

But we have this incredible capacity to love, and a great desire to heal our old wounds. We might not have a lot of the answers, but most people who’ve been on the planet for awhile seem to agree that love and connection are the best experiences available to us. I mean, you know you have now. So what are you doing with your now? The greatest shortcut to happiness is to do whatever you can to uplift those around you. Giving feels good. Being seen and understood, cherished and celebrated not in spite of, but because of, all our flaws and all our beauty is a great gift, and it’s beautiful to give that to other people, too. Listening deeply, caring with your whole being, these things feel amazing and they’re available, every day. You can get caught up in your plans and ideas, you can join in the race, but I really think the better focus is the moments. How can you love with your whole heart, today?

If you’re brave enough to get quiet, to sit up tall for a few minutes, and to feel yourself breathing in and breathing out, you will feel a connection to everyone and everything. That simple act will bring you right into the now, and now is where you need to be if you want to feel love, joy, gratitude and peace. You can’t be in yesterday or tomorrow, you have to be in this moment. Being present feels good. You don’t need to buy anything in order to experience that calm, that steadiness. If you want answers, they don’t reside in a place or in another person. The answers you need are always inside, and those are the only answers you’re going to get. Ultimately, you have to make sense out of this world yourself. If you take the time to create peace within you, you’ll experience it around you, and you’ll be spreading it wherever you go. We have tremendous power to affect the way our lives feel. Of course there are devastating things that can happen to any of us, but it’s how we face what we’re given.

We experience our life as if it has a beginning, middle and end. We treat this like it’s our personal story, but that isn’t it. We’re joining a much larger story. We’re in the flow, and then we’re out of it. The flow goes on without us, although what we contribute while we’re here certainly affects it, and those ripples continue on. But it’s not your story, or mine. There are currently about seven billion of us contributing to this dance. What kind of dance are you doing while you’re here?

Being present means we’re opening to things as they are and trying to come back with love. We can focus on everything we don’t have, or we can direct our attention to those gifts we do have. Part of quieting the storm that rages in the mind involves choosing the thoughts that will strengthen us. Yes, there are things that can make us sick from the outside, but a lot of the time it’s our own thinking that’s causing us to suffer. We can argue about all kinds of things, but it’s pointless. We’re all in this mystery together. We can get caught up in names, borders, colors, religions and opinions, but love is the best answer you’re going to get.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

Direct Your Energy

churchillNot everyone is going to like you, or me, that’s just a reality of life. Sometimes we’ll be misunderstood, judged, rejected, excluded, or ignored. None of these things feels good, but human beings are complex. Some people need to be angry, or they need for you to be the bad guy, or they need to rewrite history so they can live with themselves. There’s nothing you can do about that. If a person won’t or can’t communicate in a respectful and compassionate way, there isn’t a lot of hope for mutual understanding or closure. On the flip side, sometimes we’ll screw up, and we may not be met with forgiveness. Once you’ve owned your mistakes and apologized, there’s not much more you can do, except try to do it differently next time.

Sometimes we spend our energy on the people who are looking to bring us down, thereby using up energy we could have spent on the people who can see us clearly. And look, I’m not saying we’re all wonderful. We all have work to do, places to heal, ways we could show up for ourselves and the people in our lives that might be infused with more enthusiasm or presence or gratitude. I’m talking about the tendency to get snagged on those people who are full of venom. Sometimes you’re dealing with a personality disorder, but if you try to rationalize with someone who cannot hear reason, you’re as nuts as they are. It’s not like we have all the time in the world, and where and how you direct your energy has the biggest impact on how your life will feel.

By this same token, sometimes we dwell on all the things we don’t have, and all the ways life is presenting its challenges, when we could be focusing on those things that are flowing, and are fulfilling. I’m not saying we should shun people who are struggling, in pain, or full of rage. Compassion when possible is always the path, but to spend hours, days, weeks, years getting caught up in other people’s dramas is not the best use of your time. You have a song to sing. You have dreams, fears, things that inspire you, scare you, excite you. You probably have a vision of how you’d like life to be or to feel, gifts within you that you long to share, ideas that you’d love to see blossom into being. That’s where you want to direct your energy. There will always be barking dogs, or, in the vernacular of our time, “haters gonna hate.” Don’t allow too much of your precious time and energy to go toward that stuff, and try not to dwell on what you’re lacking at this particular point in time.

It’s not always a choice, but the more we can choose to be grateful for all we have, the better we’re going to feel. This is not realistic when you’re dealing with heartache, rage, grief, jealousy, guilt or shame. I’m not one of those, “It’s always in your power to be happy” kind of yogis. Real, actual, devastating things happen sometimes, and your best bet is to feel all of your feelings. We don’t take the road marked, “Spiritual Bypass” on this page, but short of tragedies and great losses, direct your energy toward the good stuff. You’re not going to get to the end of your life and think, “I wish I’d been angry and defensive more. I wish I’d held onto my righteousness a little more fervently. Too bad I didn’t judge and gossip more of the time.”

Open your heart. Nurture yourself and the people close to you. Care about everyone, but don’t get stuck in a ditch with people who do nothing but hurt you. You aren’t here for that.

Sending you love, as always!

Ally Hamilton

Say Yes to Yourself

coelhoIt’s really important to be conscious of where you direct your energy. It’s easy to get caught up in all kinds of mental gymnastics that will do nothing but exhaust and deplete you. For example, you really don’t need to spend your energy on anyone else’s drama. You may have friends who always have some urgent thing happening—a fight with their neighbor, a disagreement with a friend or colleague, an ongoing frustration with their partner—that they want to discuss endlessly with you. You might also realize you’re drained when you walk away from these interactions. Or, maybe you’re allowing yourself to obsess about things over which you have no control (that would include most things). Perhaps you’re spending an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and fantasizing about a person who would be with you, “if only they could.” You only have so much energy, and you only have so much time.

Sometimes we overextend ourselves and say yes to everyone else, sacrificing our own needs and wants in the process. If you’re miserable, you’re not going to have a lot to offer anyone. Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary. If you’re someone who’s a natural giver and helper, you really have to watch your tendency to leave nothing in the tank for yourself. You might be able to show up for other people, but you’d have so much more to give if you took care of yourself, too. If you’ve ever ridden on a plane, you’re familiar with the directive in case of a “water landing”—you’re supposed to secure your own oxygen mask first, before you try to help anyone else, including your children. If you pass out, after all, then they’re really in trouble.

Sometimes we spend a lot of our energy thinking about how we look, and that usually includes our dissatisfaction with where we’re at right now. And in the time it takes to berate yourself, you could have gone for a quick walk around the block, elevating your heart rate, and taking in the trees, or the sun, or the breeze on your cheek. You could have done ten minutes of yoga, which might have served as a reset button for your day, or might have brought you into alignment with what’s in your heart. Ten minutes to connect to your breath and open yourself up is more powerful than you might imagine. It sure beats ten minutes of staring at a “beauty” magazine, which is not about beauty at all.

Everything you eat, read, watch and think about is food for your mind, your heart, and your body. They work together, and the more you feed yourself well, the better you’ll feel in all these areas. If you gossip about someone, you’re going to walk away from that exchange feeling crappy about yourself, because you’ll know you fed a weak part of who you are. You really want to choose the thoughts and activities that will strengthen you and fill you up with yes. Then you can take that yes, and spread it all over the place.

Carve out some time in your days that’s just for you. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but let it be enough that you can hear that inner voice. Without that, you’ll really be lost at sea, and may find yourself saying yes, when you really mean no. You may find you’re running on empty at a time when you need to be able to fire things up (which is most of the time). You’re precious, and you have gifts to share that only you can. In order to do that, you need to direct your energy. Don’t waste it on the meaningless stuff.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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