“Passion—including the manifestations of passion we feel within ourselves and therefore call “ours”—is not something we can grasp or own but a force of nature, connected to and influenced by things that extend far beyond any puny human self.” –Martha Beck
In kindergarten, when the teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up and why, the answers varied anywhere from “a fireman so I can save people” to “a veterinarian so I can play with animals all day.” There are some people who know what they want to do at a young age, while others take a little longer to discover their passion in life.
Although I still love animals just as much as I did when I was five years old, I decided to follow another passion of mine—writing. Yet all to often on the road to adulthood, we forfeit our joy, abandoning something we are passionate about for something that will bring us success or status. Many of us buy into the notion that we have to leave our youthful dreams behind and move onto more “realistic” or “mature” goals.
Why do so many of us think we can’t have both? I’ve been journaling since I was a kid, and what started out as a hobby, later became a way of life. It was a natural passion of mine that led to a fulfilling career.
How did I know writing was my passion? Well, at the risk of sounding super nerdy, I simply lit up when reading a good book and then spent hours creating my own stories, visualizing the characters and settings in my head.
I even came up with a pen name, which I will use when I follow in the footsteps of my idol James Patterson’s to become a fiction writer—Elizabeth Skittles—my middle name and favorite candy put together. At the time, I obviously had no idea I was putting together a porn star pen name. Taste the rainbow?
But all awkward famous names aside, if you’re on a soul-searching journey to discover your passion, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to a) see if you’re on the right track or b) guide you in the right direction:
- Would you do (_____) even if you weren’t getting paid for it?
- Do you find that you lose track of time when you’re doing (____)?
- Even when life is really busy do you still find time for (____)?
- Do you feel fulfilled while you are doing (____)?
- What do you love about yourself?
Discovering what you love to do and what you’re passionate about tends to have a positive ripple effect on your entire life. Don’t you notice that when you’re doing what you love everything else seems to fall into place? The reason for that is because of something called “The Zone.”
At some point, most people have experienced the feeling of being “happily lost” in doing what they love. They go into a positive trance, where time expands, the self feels free, and inhibitions are removed. That’s The Zone, and it’s exciting and rewarding when it happens.
It’s no secret that finding your passion is directly connected to what brings you happiness. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains that when it comes to The Zone and experiencing true happiness, “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
As we direct our focus on a specific goal, our energy literally moves in the direction of that goal. This brings us to a higher state of consciousness by restructuring and aligning our psyche. This transcendence enables us to advance to successful new ventures and grow on a mental and spiritual level. Part of following your passion is incorporating the things that naturally make you happy into your career and other aspects of your life. Doing so is a success to me.