Passion and I have had a complicated relationship.
When I was in college, about every other word that came out of my mouth had to do with exercise and nutrition. I lived and breathed fitness. I proclaimed my passion for fitness to anyone who would listen.
Fast forward a few years later, and hearing the word “passion” makes me want to punch the perpetrator, who dared to utter said words, square in the face.
As you can see, I’ve been on both ends of the passion spectrum. I’ve been the one asking hopeless victims what they’re passionate about and the annoyed receiver of that pesky question.
It’s a question, which depending on where you are in life, can either lead to thoughts of self-assuredness, or feelings of failure.
On top of that, it is often used incorrectly. A lot of people, I sure as hell used to be one of them, associate the word passion with lots of good stuff: excitement, love, happiness, joy, fulfillment– basically all of the fluffy and warm fuzzy feels. Except, that’s not correct.
Why? Because that is not what passion actually means– or not exclusively, at least.
In light of this (possibly new to you) discovery, I propose a paradigm shift. A change in perspective. Here are 4 steps to reframe “passion” from a nebulous concept, to actually start taking action towards something that’s meaningful and rewarding to you.
1. The Etymology of Passion
Much to one’s dismay, passion is not synonymous with unicorns and leprechauns.
The word passion is actually derived from the Latin word, “pati,” which means: to suffer. Yeah, you read that right: to suffer. Suffering, pain, discomfort, being challenged: all feelings most of us tend to avoid like the plague.
There has to be a paradigm shift that happens once you’re aware of what “passion” actually means. The question shifts from, “What do I love?” to “What do I love so much, that I am willing to suffer the unimaginable for?” Taking that a step further, not only do you welcome said suffering when it comes knocking at your door, but you willingly subject yourself to it and become a servant to it.
In my case, I have no desire to go through the process it takes to become a lawyer. What I will suffer for, is learning about positive psychology, neurochemistry, and connection. I’ll gladly stay up all night reading about true belonging and identity.
What is so important to you, you’re willing to give instant gratification up for?
2. Jackhammers vs. Hummingbirds
In her Super Soul Session, Liz Gilbert talks about how some of us have a “passion” (again, something you’re willing to suffer for) and how we’ve known exactly what it is since we were a twinkle in our mother’s eye. If that is you, you’re what she describes as a jackhammer: you know what you want with the utmost clarity and you go after it– day and night. On the other hand, there are the hummingbirds: you try one thing, and then go to another, and another, and by doing so, you are “cross-pollinating the world.”
Although societal expectations have us believe there is a right and wrong way to go about “passion,” there isn’t. If you have a deep and clear desire of what you want to purse, all the power to you!
If on the other hand, you’re constantly exploring multiple options, I’m right there with you! Let’s make it a fun exploration, huh?
3. What Excites You?
Instead of asking yourself what you’re passionate about, try this: “What gets me excited?” Contrary to popular belief, passion isn’t something that is found, it is created (as Tom Bilyeu so often says).
Pursue that which excites you and brings you joy (note: joy is different from the esoteric happiness so many tend to seek). What new book did you read that you can’t stop thinking about? What new form of exercise have you tried and are obsessed with? What’s something you’ve been doing since you were young? Ask yourself questions and answer them by taking action. Now. Go.
4. Follow Your Curiosity
“If you let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity might just lead you to your passion…whaaaaat?!” — Liz Gilbert
Taking the above question a step further, what are you curious about? What unanswered question keeps your mind spinning without end in sight? What have you seen out in the world that has you thinking, “There must be a better way?”
Follow your curiosity like Alice going down the rabbit hole. Let it envelope and consume you. Let it take you to new and exciting places. Can you feel your mind expanding as you do so? Your ideas solidifying? Your world opening up far beyond what you ever imagined?
If you’ve ever been fed up with the idea of passion, I hope this blog has served you. I hope you’ve found a renewed sense of excitement. I hope you’ve come to accept and love the fact that there is no right or wrong way: there is only your way.
As you go about your day, I urge you to take action and to allow yourself to think outside the box. And, as you do so, I hope you think of Joseph Campbell’s life-altering words:
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”