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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Your Heart Can Fly

Wake-at-dawn-with-aDo you know how I feel when someone lets me merge in traffic or holds a door open? When a stranger smiles and means it? Reassured about the world. Happy. Thankful and hopeful. Because that stuff is just as potentially contagious as sticking your traffic finger out the window of your car, or letting the elevator doors close “accidentally on purpose.”

We are energetic creatures, and wherever we go we’re spreading energy, and absorbing it. Now some of that can be a choice…you can decide not to let the fact that someone cuts you off on the freeway effect your blood pressure or your mood. You can decide not to allow someone else’s comments or actions rob you of the joy or peace you might be cultivating in your own heart in that particular moment. You do not have to receive the gift of someone’s anger unless it belongs to you. If you want to do a little advanced practice, you can wave and smile at the people who cut you off and confuse the sh&t out of them and drive away with a big grin on your face. And you can also decide to be accountable for the energy you’re contributing as you move through your day. Especially if you’re angry about something, or feeling dark. Which is perfectly natural, but not necessarily something you want to be spreading all over the place.

Whenever it’s possible, whenever you’re feeling it within you, spread some light, some joy, some kindness. Share your smile, that twinkle in your eye, or the kind of laughing that makes your sides ache. Share hugs and hope, and act on those spontaneous feelings of wanting to help people, even if, (maybe especially if), you don’t know them. It’s natural for us to care about each other. We’re hard-wired for compassion (Google “mirror neurons”). We’re just out of practice. We’ve bought into a story that is a lie. We have been taught to be hard, to compete, to “get ahead or get left behind”. Unlearn that stuff, it is not authentic to you, or me, or anyone else. Drop the armor.

We humans, we really need connection. None of us is alone here, but it can feel that way sometimes, when people are cold or harsh or distracted or racing by. Be one of the people who’s holding a door open. Because there’s a secret to living this life in a way that feels incredible. There’s a formula, and for some crazy reason, it doesn’t get shared enough. The more you spend your time and energy trying in whatever big and little ways you can to uplift other people, the happier and more fulfilled and full of purpose you’re going to feel. Spread the wings of your heart and fly into this day and share every ounce of love you’ve got because you will never run out. Sending you love, Ally Hamilton

Be Love.

Your-soul-doesnt-careWe put so much emphasis on “doing’ in our culture, and very little on being. I believe this is one of the root causes of suffering. You might have a great job, or you might have a job you work at in order to get by, to keep a roof over your head, and some food in your refrigerator. Either way, how you’re being as you’re doing whatever you’re doing is really at the heart of whether you’re going to be happy or not.

You could be the CEO of some huge company, and never have to worry about paying your bills. But if you’re competitive with everyone, or you think everyone is out to get you, or that there’s only so much room at the top, if you “go for the jugular” because your outlook is “it’s a dog eat dog world”, then you’re probably pretty miserable (and I doubt you’re on this blog). If you’re working a job you wish you weren’t, but you’re having some compassion for yourself and everyone else, you’re probably happier than that CEO (and no, I’m not saying all CEO’s are unhappy or unkind, I’m just trying to illustrate a point. I know lots of people with high-profile jobs who are very actively giving back and trying to be of service).

We just have such an obsession with what people do and have, and not as much in who people ARE, or how they’re being in the world. Is it any wonder so many people feel alone? When you go to a party, what’s the second question people ask you after they know your name? I realize it’s a “safe” conversation starter, but so is, “So, where are you from?”, or, “What do you like to do on your ‘off’ time?” If you’re not worried about staying in the safety zone, you could try, “What’s the last thing that scared the sh&t out of you?”, or, “Have you ever jumped out of a plane, and would you, if the opportunity presented itself?”. Answers to any of those questions would tell you so much more about the person you’re speaking with than a rote response to queries about what they do.

Doing whatever you can to uplift other people is the surest route to happiness I know, so if you’re going to focus on doing, I’d focus on doing that. If you’re not sure that’s true, see how much love and light you can spread wherever you go today. Hold doors open, let people merge in traffic, smile at strangers, take the time to really listen, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have a great and meaningful day whether you’ve got the job of your dreams, or you’re working a job to make ends meet. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are, and how you’re being. Be love, because you ARE love. Put a bunch of days like that together, and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a meaningful life that brings you a lot of peace and joy. Sending you some love right now! Ally Hamilton


The-biggest-lie-on-theYou will not be happy when you lose 10 pounds, or have a different job or a drive better car, when you meet the “right” person, or when “things calm down”. You will not be happy when your biceps or bank account or boobs are bigger, or when your waistline is smaller. You will not be happy if you take medication to grow the hair on your head, or when you wax hair off in other places. You are either happy inside, or you are not happy inside. Nothing outside will fix that for long. You surely can’t buy it.

We have a crazy system set up around us (consumerism and distraction), which simply reflects back the system that exists within us (there’s a void inside I need to fill!). If you don’t wrestle with life’s big questions, and by that I mean, “Is this all there is? What am I doing here? Who am I?”, then those unanswered questions own you, and you’ll have to keep dancing around distracting yourself from the discomfort of not having worked them out for the rest of your life, convinced that happiness lies in external stuff, and wondering why you can’t get there.

Peace comes from understanding and accepting that one day your body will give out and you will exhale for the last time. I hope it’s one day way way off in the future, and that you have the time between then and now to figure out what lights you up from the inside. Because that’s where you find happiness, or inner peace, or the ability to face reality as it is, which is not always as we’d like it to be. It happens inside you as you develop the ability to love yourself, to find your purpose, to uncover your particular gifts and give them away freely, fully, with total abandon. To show yourself some compassion and kindness, to do the work to heal. If you pin your happiness to certain events going or not going the way you’d like, you are nothing more than a victim of circumstance, and there’s just no power in that. We can never control circumstances, we can only work on the way we respond, the amount of power we give to those waves of life that are challenging. We can swim against the current which is exhausting, or we can embrace the zen proverb: Let go or be dragged. Sometimes we just have to realize what we know. Your happiness is good for you, and it’s good for everyone else, too. Sending you so much love, Ally Hamilton