If your newsfeed is similar to mine, you probably see 4 or 5 articles a day on doing something about “your passions.”
Everyone is telling you to chase them, find them, follow them, or make money from them. The subtle—or not so subtle—message behind these calls to action is that you need to do something with them if you’re going to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Passion, as a concept, has become a sort of scale we use to measure a variety of things.
We use it almost synonymously with happiness.
We use it as a means to satisfaction.
We even use it as a mechanism for giving our lives meaning.
Along with happiness and purpose, passion has become the new “it” life goal.
And just as there are people who dedicate their whole lives to hunting down happiness or questing after their purpose, there are those who dedicate their lives to discovering their Passion with a capital P.
And for what?
Of course, to dedicate themselves to doing it—whatever it is—with all their soul for the rest of their lives (even if there’s only a bit of it left after that long search).
And, really, who doesn’t want a life fuelled by passion?
A job that lights you up, a company that lights you up, hobbies that light you up, relationships that light you up—who could ask for more, right?
There are so many bestsellers published about the topic that I couldn’t possibly name them all here.
Books that talk about how to land the job of your dreams, how to spark passion in your life, how to channel your passion into building a business…
You’ll hear a lot of these books—and the people who parrot them—say, “do what you feel passionate about,” “your job has to fill you with passion,” “start a business with an idea that truly fires you up with passion.”
Myself included: I spent a full chapter on it in my Spanish bestseller on lifestyle entrepreneurship.
And we all talk about it for one very simple reason.
Because it’s damn important.
Knowing how much time and energy it takes to start a business, I wouldn’t want anyone to jump into it unless some aspect of it filled them with passion.
And I certainly wouldn’t want them to get up every single day just to go to work a job that doesn’t excite them.
Passion is a crucial ingredient for all the things we do in life, and there’s plenty of room to have more passion in our society. That’s why we need to keep searching for it, writing about it, and talking about it.
But we need to frame it right.
Otherwise, it transforms into another far-off goal we strive to achieve.
It’s the same with happiness.
If you spend your life going after happiness as a goal, you’re going to live like a dog chasing its own tail.
As the Hindu spiritual master Osho says in his book, “The Book of Children”:
A child is left completely bewildered when you ask them: “Are you happy?”. In fact, they don’t even know how to answer, and I feel they’re right! When you ask a child “are you happy?”, they simply cross their arms…because, what do you mean when you are asking this?
A child is happy only when they are not conscious of it. No one can be happy and be conscious of it at the same time. Happiness is something very subtle, that only occurs when you are totally immersed in something else.
A child is playing and they’re happy because, in that moment, they don’t know anything about him or herself: They have disappeared! Happiness only exists when you have disappeared. When you return, happiness disappears.
A dancer is happy when dancing and he or she disappears. A singer is happy when a song is so overwhelming that the singer disappears. A painter is happy when painting. A child is happy when playing, perhaps a silly game, but they are completely absorbed in it.
Happiness doesn’t need to be searched for directly. Do something else and happiness will follow you like a shadow.
It works the same way with passion. Just like happiness, it’s not a goal to be reached for.
Passion is the result of a process.
But if anyone put that on the cover of their book, I doubt it would sell much (but who knows? maybe I should try it for my next one.)
Passion doesn’t come to us when we go to work and focus on whether the job fills us with passion or not.
Passion doesn’t blossom when you spend your time over-evaluating your business idea, constantly asking yourself whether it inspires you enough to be worth your time and energy.
Let’s pretend for a second.
Imagine that one day you come across a stone painting tutorial.
The results are incredible, the step-by-step instructions are really easy to follow, and the pictures are gorgeous.
It’s creative, artistic, and, who knows, you might even be able to make money selling them online someday. And to top it all off, you’ve always wanted to experiment with painting and doing something with your hands other than hitting your keyboard. So this seems like a great opportunity.
So, you decide to create some free time and try it out. You gather some stones, you buy all the supplies you need, and you throw yourself into painting your first work of stone art.
And you discover that… they’re not nearly as cool as the photos you saw online.
Now the doubt settles in: “should I continue to invest my time in this?”
And it nags at you because you’re not sure if this is “your passion in life.” And if it isn’t, won’t your time be better spent looking for your true passion?
Why waste time on that when we all have so little?
Hundreds of thousands of innocent hobbies, potential sources of enjoyment, happiness, and passion, die each year because of this belief.
But what if we just dedicated ourselves to exploring things we like, that we find fun, that make us feel good?
What if we go to work and spend our energies building trusting relationships with our colleagues, putting our strengths in the game and carrying out our work with pleasure, professionalism, and quality?
What if we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into making that business idea come to life because we can’t stop thinking about it, because we want to learn something new, or simply because it’s just plain fun?
What if we stop over-thinking “passion” and just focus on having fun instead?
Well, if we did that, we would all be living lives full of passion.
So stop chasing your passions.
Or, better yet, let go of the idea of having to chase your passions.
Instead, just dedicate yourself to what you like, what you have fun with, what makes you feel like you’re vibrating from the inside out.
Maybe it’s climbing trees, or illustrating stories, or dancing for so long you completely lose track of time. Maybe it’s doing a new thing each day. Maybe it was the same thing for 8 years and then, all of a sudden, it switched.
Whatever it is, do it without worrying about whether it’s your true passion or not. Stop asking whether it’s a wise investment of your time.
Do it just because you enjoy it.
And passion will come.
Let me know your thoughts and share what “passions” are you actively doing (not chasing).
- To James Clear for exposing me to the concept that originated this article.