How to Find Happiness When You’re Feeling Lost

pemaThe first way to find happiness when you’re feeling lost, is to stop looking for it! When we’re feeling hurt, scared, anxious, heartbroken, abandoned, rejected, insecure, envious or threatened, the trick is not to avoid the uncomfortable, painful and challenging feelings, it’s to embrace them. I know this might seem counter-intuitive. You might ask yourself, “How will leaning into my pain help me find happiness?” I’m going to tell you.

The greatest state of dis-ease, and one of the largest contributors to our stress, is being in one place, wishing we were somewhere else, or feeling one thing, and wanting to feel something else. The more we contract from our experience, the more we suffer. There are all kinds of ways we try to contract–we might numb ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, or throwing ourselves into relationships. We might try to run from our pain by keeping ourselves busy from dawn until dusk. We might try denial on for size. None of that works, though. The minute you decide to avoid your pain, you’ve made pain your CEO. Now it’s in control, and your actions are determined by it. Screw that! If you want to be ruled by love and not fear, you have to embrace reality as it is, even when it breaks your heart.

The truth is, heartbreak is part of life, so is sadness, longing, loss, and in some cases, betrayal, abandonment or abuse. The deck is full of everything. You can decide that there’s something personal about the hand you’ve been dealt, or you can get busy playing with the hand you’ve got; trying to get different cards doesn’t work. Wishing with all your might you had the Queen of Hearts when you’re staring at the Ace of Spades won’t change a thing, it will just create more anguish, frustration, and heartache within you.

Also, forget about fair. Devastating things happen to incredible people every single day. You can do everything “right”, and still there will be some suffering. When you allow yourself to feel however you feel–lost, anxious, depressed, confused, jealous, ashamed, and so on–you liberate yourself. The feelings arise, they peak, and they subside; no feeling goes on and on for the rest of your life. The more you push down the feelings, though, the more they persist because they want to be acknowledged. Feelings are alive, they’re energetic, and like any living thing, they just want to be seen and understood. They’re ways for us to know ourselves more deeply, and to grow in patience and compassion for ourselves and our process.

Also, there’s the mind-body connection. If you refuse to deal with your feelings, they don’t just pack up and move on, they show up in your tight shoulders or hips, clenched jaw, stress headache, chronic illness, upset stomach, insomnia, lethargy, and so on. It takes a lot of energy to deny your reality, and that comes at a great cost to your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Happiness cannot enter a false construct. Happiness arises from living in alignment with what is true for you. So if you want to find happiness when you’re feeling lost, allow yourself to feel lost! It’s very freeing to allow yourself to be as you are, and happiness follows from that freedom.

Sending you love, and wishing you strength and peace,


Ally Hamilton


Make the Shift, Session 3

Yoga-is-99-practice-1We expect to encounter resistance when we’re being forced to do something we don’t want to do, but it’s a curious thing when we experience blocks in those areas where we’re looking for movement; where we want to shift or change or grow. The thing is, all change, no matter how positive, has an element of loss attached to it. In order to open to something new, we usually have to be willing to let go of something old, especially when we’re talking about our ideas or opinions or ways of doing things.

Change is not easy for most people. And yet, there’s no escaping it. Everything is shifting all the time. You are not the you you were five years ago, and neither is anyone else. You can’t predict the future any more than you can rewrite the past. All you can do is open to things as they are, and as they unfold, and develop a strong center. That’s internal work, there’s no way around it.

It’s completely understandable that we’d like to be able to count on some things. That we’d like to create some order inside all of this chaos. Some people long for that more than others. Controlling people are usually people who’ve been hurt, abandoned, traumatized or disappointed in some essential way. Of course they want to pin things down, and sometimes they want to pin people down, too. But we’re on a spinning planet, we have our bodies with their unknown expiration dates, we have our loved ones in the same situation, and there’s just no telling what’s coming down the path. At a certain point, you have to open to the ride, and let go of the things you can’t control. You can work on knowing and accepting yourself. You can figure out what lights you up, and what it is you have to offer, and you can get busy offering it. You can work on how you respond to what you’re given.

There’s enormous power in that. When we become accountable for the energy we’re spreading, when we take ownership of our lives and decide we’re going to move in a direction that feels right and good, we wouldn’t expect to come up against resistance. But if those ideas are new to you, I can almost guarantee that will happen. When you get to the point when you have to start doing things differently because the “old way” hasn’t been working out too well, it’s likely your system will revolt. Resistance isn’t always obvious; it can feel like boredom, anger, frustration, lethargy, a desire to numb out, an inability to focus, or a need to distract yourself. If you aren’t used to putting your feelings into the mix, if you haven’t been following your own intuition, a mere decision that you’d like to start doing those things isn’t going to be enough.

Rewiring our systems so we can start to live in alignment with what’s true for us, and in a way that feels good, takes determination, discipline, and a deep desire. It’s also nice to have some support, at least one person who’s rooting for you, when you can’t find the energy to root for yourself. It’s very painful to come up against all the ways you’ve been sabotaging yourself, and to uncover the reasons why. It’s inevitable you’re going to discover, or finally acknowledge some deep wounds that you’ve been carrying with you, if you haven’t been able to show up on your own behalf all these years. Before you can get to that strong center, you really have to lean into your pain, and integrate all parts of yourself. Anything you reject creates a chasm within you. A wall of shame or guilt or doubt. You really have to access your whole being. No one else is you. That’s such an incredible thing, isn’t it? Seven billion of us, and only one you. Of course you’re worth fighting for; if you don’t show up as your whole self, with all the gifts you have to offer, the world loses a gift only you can bring.

Anyway, my point is, resistance is perfectly natural, but you don’t have to let it stop you. You can lean into that, too. You can notice your lethargy, and drag yourself off the couch in spite of it. You can head out the door and walk around your block one time, with the intent of noticing just one thing that inspires you or surprises you or makes you feel happy to be alive. You can sit and meditate, and observe whatever arises calmly, with the understanding that it, too, will change. You can do your yoga practice, and feed a loving voice. You can commit to yourself, to your healing and your ability to nurture yourself and your dreams, and the people in your life. You can stay the path, even when the sleet is hitting you in the face, hard, and some voice inside your head tells you it would be easier to turn back and numb out. And you can tell that voice kindly, but with conviction, to screw off, because you know in your heart this is the way to go if you want to feel the sun shining on your face anytime soon.

Make the Shift, Session 3

This week, our third week, we deal with resistance. We face it head-on, and we move right through it. Grab your journal, your pen, and your yoga mat, and head into session 3, yogis. Rooting for you, and sending you love,