Why do so many of us have trouble finding out what we’re passionate about? I’m not talking about sexual heat or passionate relationships, although that excitement is certainly important. I’m thinking of passion in the broadest sense: an interest in life, in something beyond ourselves. Our society suffers from a sort of low-grade depression.
Many of us may not actually be hurting, but we’re pretty disinterested or disconnected. What’s going on, and what can we do about it?. Finding the juice in your life is important if you want to be truly happy. So, what gives your life meaning and purpose?
In our consumer society, it’s easy to distract ourselves from concerns that seem too abstract by substituting the pursuit of material things like bigger pecs, the latest car or dancing at the hottest club. That’s fun – but it rarely scratches that deepest itch, the one about whether life is ultimately fulfilling.
People who are parents often find ready-made purpose in life because of the importance human beings place on the rearing of children. Sure, continuation of the species is important, but let’s face it: biological reproduction is not such a big accomplishment. And when children grow up, parents speak of the “empty nest syndrome,” and end up facing many of the same challenges as everyone else.
Rather than adding more people to an already-crowded planet, many of us make find other ways to make a contribution. Some of us volunteer our time with organizations we value; others of us choose professions that put our nurturing instincts to work in other ways. Many of us make the world a better place through the arts. Others find that participating in the natural world –gardening, environmental awareness – fulfills our yearning to make things better.
One of the interesting things about finding your purpose is that no one else can find it for you. Maybe your parents or the preacher at your childhood church tried to give you answers, and maybe those worked for a while. Ultimately, however, success in life depends on you leading your life the way you choose to do lead it.
So what can you do?
Slow down. Give yourself a break from multitasking. Take a deep breath and relax. Life doesn’t become more meaningful if you simply fill it up with more busy-ness. Try doing less, and allow yourself to appreciate completing something you do well.
Stop distracting yourself. Pay attention to what’s going on around you right now. What clues do you find to what makes you happy?
If your life ended tomorrow, what would you want to have accomplished that you haven’t yet done? It’s probably not just spending more time at the office. How would you like your epitaph to read? What do you want your legacy to be?
What makes you happy? Too many of us live as if existence was supposed to be deadly serious. Passion happens when we’re feeling playful and exuberant. Start noticing your senses and what they have to teach you.
You’re in touch with your passion when you’re doing something just because you love it – not because you’re especially good at it, or other people tell you that you should do it or because you make a lot of money when you do it. Fun is the fuel that life runs on. How full is your tank?