One of the things I enjoy about working with people on what they want to change is seeing the glint in their eyes, or their faces light up when they talk about something they’re passionate about, especially when they can connect it to an activity or way of being that whole-heartedly aligns with their values. Often they don’t recognise it, but they’ll feel it. I know they do, I can witness it, and I feel it too. Often they can’t admit to how or why they feel that way – it’s just something that stirs.
I believe everyone has passions, yes plural, multiple things we love to do.
A passion is the spark that engages you. A sense of what makes you feel alive, gives you purpose, makes being in any situation feel lighter, more in control, and somehow timeless. Like where you are and what you’re doing is right for that moment. Often we get so caught up in trying to find it, make sense of it, making it more meaningful that we lose sense of what a passion actually is.
In our minds we’re often too fearful to admit what we truly desire.
Does it sound too stupid, too clever, too hard, too expensive, too complicated, too crazy, or just plain silly? Does it lie buried or ignored because it is too scary to admit? Could it be too simple, doesn’t it need to be something more elaborate and detailed, does it need to show off my intelligence, how much do I have to change my lifestyle, does it need to demonstrate I’m a ‘good’ person, or get people to admire me? Or should I limit myself, and should it only be one thing that I focus on?
I’ll reiterate that it doesn’t have to be ‘one’ thing and one thing alone that we’ve passionate about. We’re complex people, with lots of different tastes, opinions and we also change or evolve over time. If one year it is about watching more movies, or seeing more live music, knitting, learning to surf, fly a helicopter, learning a language or to sing, and the next you’d like to cook, then so be it. Either way you’re enriching your life with more experiences, learning more about yourself and enjoying life along the way.
I don’t believe that a passion has to be your life work or a career path either. It can be a side project on weekends like digging for second hand treasures, playing in a band, reconditioning furniture, growing a veggie garden, reading… anything that helps you express your version of creativity, or simply helps you feel great because you’re engaged in that activity.
How do you explore what that spark could be for you?
Connect with what is important to you, your values, then go after the activities that make it real. Like if ‘adventure’ is important to you, then how can you explore more? Learning something new, reading a different genre, plan a holiday or meal somewhere exotic. Experiment with it, this all helps admit or confront, clarify or express and ultimately release the spark within you, with less pressure.
For me, the act of writing this helps me move in the direction of one of my passions. I am expressing, being creative and ‘being’ the change I wish to see in my world. I do it to benefit me and clarify what thoughts go on up there, allow me to be more in touch with what I feel, and to get a sense of participating in the world rather than letting it pass me by, and if along the way others benefit from it, then hooray!
Experiment a little…
Ask yourself, ‘when have I been most engaged in my life?’
Write down what you were doing, feeling, thinking, learning or experiencing at that moment. Even if it’s as far back as being a kid.
When you’ve found that moment, ‘what was it that inspired you, kept you going, kept you challenged, what was it that made you feel good?’ Capture it.
Next, ‘how can you create a similar moment again?’
What if you can’t think of that moment? You’re feeling stuck… First, that is okay and the more pressure you apply often the harder it is to define. We can get caught up in adulting we forget, deprioritise or lose these sparks in our lives. Talk it over with a friend or partner, and ask when they’ve witnessed you being most engaged in life. Experiment a little with new experiences. Be open to trying new things, say ‘yes’ a little more. Don’t feel limited to having only one thing, write a list and play a little with what you enjoy doing. Release a sense of pressure on yourself to ‘find it’. Often it’s the simple steps along the way that help us discover something enriching.