Passion is an intense driving emotion, enthusiasm, or conviction. It is a strong desire for an activity, object, or concept. It is that fire in your belly that drives you. Passion is not only about your career or job; it is about every aspect of your life. Leading a passionate life encompasses every part of your life – your career, your relationships, your hobbies, any causes you are involved with, etc. Pursuing your passions connects you to your soul and satisfies your deep cravings for a meaningful life. It means connecting with your purpose and living your life to the fullest. When you are following your passion you will experience profound happiness, joy, and success. In addition, living a passionate life can actually help you live up to 6 years longer, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz (authors of a series of books to help you get healthy).
Everyone has felt passionate about something at some point in their life. In fact, passion can be as simple as your love for bird-watching, gardening, reading, or walking in the woods. It can also be something huge and life altering like working to help end homelessness in your country.
Take some time to review your past experiences with passion. Think of a time when you were stopped in your tracks by the beauty of a sunset or sunrise. The incredible hues of orange, pink, and purple. The spectacular way the light bounces off the clouds creating a sky that is completely captivating. When you get absorbed in moments like this you are connected with your passion. Then think about a time when you were engaged in an activity that you love - at work or play. A time when you were so absorbed in the activity that you completely lost track of time. Both of these experiences represent passionate living. Living a passionate life means being present in the moment to appreciate and enjoy the small things in life in addition to having an overriding passion that drives your life’s work.
Once you know what some of your passions are (big or small), you need to make time and space in your life to pursue them. Cultivating your passion will begin to spark and awaken other passions. As you continue to follow your heart and connect with that fire in your belly you will reap the rewards of living passionately. Don't let anything get in your way. Not fear, lack of time, or other people. Let your passion carry you through any obstacles that get in your way. When there's passion, there's a way.
One of the most powerful examples of passionate living despite extreme obstacles is Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French fashion magazine editor and author. Bauby wrote a best seller (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) after suffering from a stroke that left him almost completely paralyzed and unable to speak. He wrote his book with the help of a speech therapist. The therapist would recite the alphabet until Bauby would blink his left eye to indicate the next letter. He wrote the entire book one letter at a time! Clearly Bauby's passion was driving this process. Many people would give up and focus only on their limitations. Due to Bauby’s passion, he found a way to write a book despite all the obstacles.
Passion can be a powerful driving force that allows you to plow through obstacles in order to reach your goals. Sometimes following your passion requires changes and leaps of faith. I have a deep passion for helping people use the power of positive thinking to create the life they want. This passion drove me to start a new business, offering audio affirmations, to my existing coaching practice. Despite the fact that I have had a few failed business ventures and I understand the difficulties of owning and operating a business, I knew I had to launch my new business. I knew I needed to follow my passion. This passion is what drives me and allows me to take action and overcome obstacles to make this business a success.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are a passionate person. Everyone is. If you have trouble identifying or engaging your passions there are a few things you can try to jump-start your passionate life.
Experiment - If you are not sure what your passions are, start experimenting. Try taking a class - cooking, photography, computer skills, knitting, exercise, writing, yoga, etc. Think about things you enjoyed as a child and check them out again. Keep exploring until you find some things that spark your passion. If you are really stuck, try some things that your friends are passionate about and see if they feel right for you.
Make a list - The Bucket List is a movie about 2 men who are battling cancer. They decide to make lists of all the things they want to do before they "kick the bucket." I suggest you start your list now - even if you are in perfect health. Make a list of all the things you would do if you had no limits - you know, the things that you secretly dream about doing but feel you can't. Include everything that you wish you could do before you die. This list can guide you as you begin living your passionate life. Why wait until you are facing death to start living the life you want?
Stop and smell the roses - Opening up to your passion for the everyday things helps you connect with your bigger life passions. Start small and stop to smell the roses - literally. Pay attention to the beauty that is around you - flowers, sunsets, smiles, playful children, etc. Instead of living on autopilot and simply going through the motions, you can begin to appreciate the small things in your life. Experiencing this type of passion helps you open up to live a fully passionate life.
De-stress - When you are constantly feeling stressed it is difficult (if not impossible) to feel your passion. You need to find ways to reduce your stress and free yourself up to live passionately. The good news here is that there are many different ways to manage stress. If you keep at it, you will find at least a few stress management techniques that work for you and fit in with your lifestyle. Here are a few techniques you can try: meditation, yoga, tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing, and emotional freedom technique. Keep trying techniques until you find a few that work for you. It is important to have several stress management tools in your toolbox. Practice stress management techniques everyday. Over time you will notice a significant improvement in your ability to stay cool despite the stressors around you.
Conquer your fears - Next to stress, fear is probably the biggest passion killer. Many people know what their passions are, but are afraid to make the necessary changes in their lives to follow their passion. Perhaps you have always wanted to be a rock star, but you are afraid to leave your 9 to 5 job. Or maybe you have always dreamed of moving to your favorite city. In order to live the passionate life you must not let anyone or anything get in your way. Be courageous and be bold! Do something courageous everyday! It is important to remember that pursuing your passions creates happiness and helps you find meaning in life. So, even if you try some new venture and fail (by objective standards) you still win because you have the deep satisfaction that you gain from living passionately.
Make the time – You need to start now! You can’t keep waiting for extra time to magically appear so that you can pursue your passions – it’s likely you won’t find the time and you might miss your opportunities. You have to make the effort and carve out the time. You can do this in many different ways. Get up an hour early. Turn off the TV one or more nights a week. Hire a babysitter one afternoon a week. Use at least one lunch hour a week to pursue your passion. While it may seem like a difficult thing to do at first, after you get going you will find that taking this time is well worth it.
Focus on the positives - Don’t fire hose yourself. Don't dwell on the negatives and talk yourself out of pursuing your passion. If you have some ideas about activities you want to try or causes you want to join, don’t let your mind get carried away with all the potential pitfalls. A fair amount of reason is important; however, over-thinking and focusing on the negatives will stifle your passion and keep you trapped where you are. You could also use affirmations to keep you focused and fearless. For example: My passion guides everything I do or I courageously follow my passion.
Now you have the information and tools to help you live a passionate life. There are some risks involved, but the rewards (happiness, joy, and deep satisfaction with life) far outweigh the risks. So... no more excuses! Start pursuing your passions today. It is time to ignite that fire in your belly and fulfill your purpose in life. It is time to be bold and live passionately!