Finding Your Passion in Life
Living with chronic pain requires a deep awareness of the many balances that are required in life. A life half-lived is no life at all. Even if you are struggling to get by, you can still live a life of passion.
My passion for life is hard to miss, but it wasn't always that way.
There was a time in my life when I despised waking up every morning. I had to struggle to find a reason to get out of bed, and all I did from the moment my feet hit the floor was long for bedtime to come again so I could go back to the quiet state of oblivion that only sleep provides.
If you have read any of my more personal lenses then you already knew that, but most people who meet me today don't really know or understand that darker part of my life. They don't know that it was only after I got sick that I became so determined to live a quality life.
All they know is that I am that friendly girl who strikes up conversations in the grocery stores, even with total strangers. I smile and wave at just about everybody, I am always ready with a compliment, something that will make them laugh, or a well wish for them and their family.
I sing when I feel like singing, I laugh when I feel like laughing, I dance when I feel like dancing. As far as being "socially acceptable" goes, I am often far from it. When I feel a feeling, I let it out. I am passionate.
If it is one of the few people who happen to have crossed me, generally by hurting someone I love, then they have also seen the other side of that passion, that part of me that has a lot in common with a pitbull. If I find a cause I believe in, I have a very hard time letting go of it, though I am learning.
What most people see one way or the other is passion... but where did that passion come from, and how do you find yours?
Let's be serious for a moment.
I'm not saying that everyone wants to have that kind of passion in their life. Some people like being quiet and keeping to themselves. They like being under the radar, not rocking the boat, avoiding making waves.
If that sounds like you, that's fine! I'm not here to change a single thing you like about yourself. If you love it, don't change a thing!
If, however, you are feeling a little blah about life and would like to change that, read on.
There are a lot of rules in life. Though nobody has ever been able to show me the source of these rules, everyone seems to know and expect them. To make things even more difficult, the rules seem to vary greatly from person to person and situation to situation.
Who made the rule that you are supposed to go to the store, keep your hands firmly on your cart, eyes straight ahead, and just do your shopping? Where is the fun in that?
Who made the rule that just because you are an adult you can no longer play like a little kid? No more swing-sets, mud pies, or sticking your tongue out to catch snowflakes? Whoever it was did not have much in the way of imagination or fun, did they?
What about the rule that everything in life must be approached with 100% seriousness? Life is far too short to take everything so seriously.
Doesn't it make your head hurt?
It does mine.
How important is having passion in life? Really?
We all have our favorite spice of life. I say that something worth doing is worth doing with passion, but what about you?
How important is passion in life?
Be the You that you were meant to be.
We all have our own first steps to finding passion in life. Mine was the realization that I only felt truly like myself when I was with my children. That might sound silly to some, but for me it was a huge revelation.
With my children I have no pretensions, no "be serious" rules, no need to restrain my emotional nature. I don't have to impress them, because they already love me. If I want to laugh, I laugh. If I want to cry, I cry. If I have a success in life, no matter how small, they celebrate with me. If I have a failure, they forgive me.
Life would be so much easier, I thought, if everyone saw me the way my children do. To them I am just Mom, human in all of her imperfections. They don't expect more or less than what I am willing to give. I can just be me and not be ashamed of it.
On the heels of that revelation came the second.
Who else has the opportunity to see me the way my kids see me? How often do I allow myself to burst forth in spontaneous emotion in front of others?
That led to the first rule of finding your passion...
Be true to you!
So what exactly does being true to yourself mean?
Anytime you find yourself suppressing a part of yourself in a particular situation, you probably aren't being true to yourself.
-- Do you avoid discussing certain topics that you enjoy for fear of boring or offending others?
-- Do you find yourself constantly trying to be on your best behavior around certain people?
-- Do you hide certain aspects of your personality just to keep the peace?
-- Do you suppress your emotions for fear of appearing weak or too emotional?
-- Do you hesitate to speak because you are afraid of saying something stupid?
In certain situations, any and all of these things are acceptable. When you are meeting someone for the first time, it is wise to be on your best behavior. When you are interviewing for a job, you probably do want to watch what subjects you discuss.
However, if you find yourself doing these things on a frequent basis, even with people you know and trust, you probably aren't being true to yourself. While you may be trying to avoid an uncomfortable situation with someone else, you are also making yourself uncomfortable.
Anytime you are trying to be someone or something you are not, you are only going to cause yourself grief. Not only that, but the people around you are going to sense that you are hiding something, and most people will be cautious with someone who is hiding things.
We all say stupid things sometimes, and we all embarrass ourselves from time to time. The answer to this is not hiding your true self under a false front, but growing more comfortable with the skin you are in.
Do what you love and love what you do!
We have all found ourselves trapped in a situation (job, relationship, commitment) that no longer gives us pleasure. There is no getting around it, part of life is doing things we would rather not do. If we want to make it in this world, we must sacrifice certain things.
Yet, that doesn't mean we have to be unhappy all of the time. If you find yourself in a job you hate, there is no reason you can't keep looking until you find a job you love. There is another solution as well...
Most people spend 40 hours a week at their job, another 56 hours is reserved for sleep. That leaves a full 72 hours a week, part of which can and should be spent doing something you do love.
Perhaps you set aside a childhood hobby when you became an adult, or maybe there is something you wanted to be when you grew up that never came to fruition. Maybe you just realized you weren't very good at it, so you gave up on a dream.
Pull out those old visions and dust them off. If you always wanted to be a painter but decided you weren't very good at it, who cares. Nobody said you have to be good at something to enjoy doing it.
Perhaps you will never be a professional singer, nor a rock star, but should you let that stop you from singing to your heart's content whenever you get a chance?
So, you wanted to be a veterinarian but never got the grades (or the scholarships) that you needed to see that dream through. You don't need a degree to volunteer at your local animal shelter, but you still get the joy of helping animals.
Whatever your childhood goals were, find a way to bring at least part of them into your adult life. You never know, some of those passions might just become paying opportunities if given time.
When you love what you do, you will quickly find that passion follows.
Give yourself permission to be a kid again!
Just because we are grown-ups now doesn't mean we have to stop being a kid. It is hard to find someone more passionate about life than a child; everything has the potential to be magical when you are a kid.
When you see a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, as an adult you see bad roads you will have to navigate, sidewalks you will have to shovel, and higher heating costs you will have to pay.
That's right, stop that thought process right now and take yourself back to childhood. Kids are free to see the magic in life because kids have not yet learned the fine art of responsibility.
Worrying about bad roads is not going to change them. You are still going to have to shovel the walk, and you are going to have to pay the higher heating bills no matter what. So just for a moment accept that some things can't be changed, but your attitude is not one of them!
When a child sees a fresh blanket of snow, they see the potential for MAGIC! There are snow days home from school, snowmen to be built, angels to be made, snowballs to be thrown, and when it is all over, there is hot chocolate to warm you up.
Allowing yourself to be a kid again requires the ability to set worry aside for awhile. If you are going to make mud pies, you are going to get dirty, but oh what fun it is! So make sure you put on some old clothes, and go for it full-force.
Are you starting to feel a little bit of that passion now?
You can't be passionate about life if you are always worried about something.
I can hear you now, "You just don't understand, I HAVE to worry about..."
One of the fastest ways to kill your passion is to feed it into the habit of worrying. You worry about your mother's health problems, you worry about your sister's horrible relationship, you worry about your brother flushing his life down the toilet.
Maybe you are worried about things closer to home. Bills must be paid, food must stay on the table, your boss is cutting back, and your job is on the line.
The real problem with worry is that in most cases you can't do anything about those things that cause you worry. You can't cure your mother's illness, you can't save your sister's relationship, and you can't pull money out of thin air.
You can worry all you want, but all you are really doing is wasting energy.
A huge part of the emotional drain brought on by worry is the feeling of helplessness that follows it. The reason you are worried is because there doesn't seem to be anything you can do to change things.
When something presents itself to you in the form of worry, stop to analyze the situation. Will worrying change anything? Do you have any viable options? What solutions have presented themselves?
When you are worrying, you are focusing on the problem, when what you really need is a solution.
Replace Worry With Action
If you can't do anything about a loved one's illness, is there anything you can do that would make them feel better? A special treat they like? Is there something you can think of that would cheer them up?
What about the loved ones on the wrong path? Once again you can't do anything about it. It is hard not to worry about a loved one, especially if they are depressed or in danger. What can you really offer to the problem?
No, there really isn't much you can do, but worrying isn't going to help either. You can love them. You can let them know that you are there for them. But in the end, you must accept that their life belongs to them. While their problems are destroying their life, you are destroying your own by expending negative energy.
Positive and Negative Energies
I'm not sure I would have figured any of this out if I hadn't come down with fibromyalgia, but when you find yourself with very limited energy to expend, you begin noticing the types of energy you have.
There is positive energy and negative energy. Positive energy fills you while negative energy drains you. When you become aware of the amount of energy you are putting out in daily life, when you really have to pay attention to it, you quickly discover that certain things are more draining than others.
This is negative energy. Energy is sapped by negative emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, these emotions are very draining.
Positive energy, on the other hand, energizes you. Laughter, love, snuggles, putting a smile on someones face, these things all renew me in a way I had never noticed before.
As I started paying more attention to not just where I spent my energy but how I spent it, I was amazed to discover that other people could have such a strong effect on me.
Start taking inventory of your energy expenditures, and you too will find that spending a few minutes talking to the woman who does nothing but complain can take more energy than sitting with an old friend and laughing about the good times does.
Even healthy people have a limited amount of energy, so be sure to spend it where it counts most.
There are so many things you can do to improve your life, but finding your passion can lead to new and brighter futures than you ever imagined.
To wake up every morning excited about life, knowing that you are on a path that makes you happy and fills you with hope, is to live a full life.
Don't be afraid of what other people might think. Surround yourself with positive and loving people, always give back more than you take, and take time to stop and enjoy the small moments that make up life...
"If you must do something, do it with passion!" ~ Boshemia
Living a passionate life isn't always easy, but you can rest assured it is far more fun!