Passion is crucial to a meaningful life yet popular culture confuses the function of passion in our lives with the many seductive messages of material wealth we are fed i.e. income, status, fame & success. We are pushed off course by the idea that passion is a precious commodity we only feel in life’s climatic moments - everything else in life is a build-up or an anticlimax.
As children we have stereotyped image of passion – an imaginary world where we become a part of daring adventures, intensity of desire, winning the game, being swept off our feet, etc. But as adults, our ideas become more specific (if not always realistic) and we dream of winning the lottery, rising to the top of the career ladder, reciprocated romance with someone we desire, etc.
In our everyday routine lives some people come to believe that passion is something that only happens to other people and become mere spectators to passion, consuming it through movies, TV, books, magazines & other media that package life into bite-sized portions. Often the ideas they portray are perversions of genuine feeling, examining only the extremes of human emotion and elevating them to the highest point of ‘passion’.
Most TV commercials are aimed solely at connecting our fantasies with our ability to acquire & purchase the products they promote, with alarming success. Even if we are not materially deprived, we often live with a fear of losing all we have gained & an anxiety that our personal happiness may be snatched away at any time.
Passion is not an event - it is an energy that already exists inside each one of us. The question is not whether we have it but whether we access it & how we channel it.
Passion has a positive (nourishing) energy and a negative (denying) energy. The positive enhances the experience of being present and thrives on ethical substance: a job well done, giving credit to others, fixing something that was broken, helping someone in need, finding power in doing the right thing. The negative facilitates the experience of “escape” and responds to quick fix theories: anger, gossip, impulse behaviour, junk food, selfishness, laziness etc.
For many of us the journey to uncovering our heart’s passion may appear to be an endless search, especially if we feel we don’t have access to the necessary “keys” to success – resources, contacts, influence, etc.
Whatever our passion we will encounter obstacles & detours but the challenge is to get beyond these barriers.
From an occupational perspective, we often experience an artificial dividing line between Work & Life, in terms of being pragmatic rather than passionate. Yet those who develop a passion for their work gain pleasure from it and are rewarded with satisfactions that do not fade away. Whether well paid or not, the greatest satisfactions are those that involve reaching out to others, trying to make things better, and this is not limited to professions or occupations that are primarily dedicated to public good.
If you think of your job as the only means to pay the rent, feed and clothe your children, etc. then you may be invalidating your life simply by undermining the possibility of living passionately. And sacrificing passion is a kind of psychic suicide.
But if you wake up and feel strongly, passionately about one or several aspects of your life, you are already on the road to the only success that really matters.