Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Passion - The Key To Joyous Living

Life is quite a multi-faceted experience. One thing that I have been reflecting on lately is the necessity of living with passion and drive. Simply put, life is the most rewarding and enjoyable when you are doing things that you are passionate about, and when you are passionate about the things that you are doing. During the past couple of weeks, there have been several days when I've felt like I'm in a bit of an emotional slump. That might be related to my having a bit of a cold, which saps my energy significantly, or it might be because I'm not as passionate about some aspects of my life as I want to be. The more aspects of life that one is really excited about, the happier one will be.

So, what should a person do when they aren't feeling as motivated and passionate as they want to be? As that question has been percolating in my mind, I have settled on two different answers, which work best when used in conjunction. First of all, do things you are passionate about. Secondly, be passionate about the things that you do. While those two answers sound very similar, they are actually quite distinct and require very different mindsets and attitudes.

Doing things that you are passionate about requires you to know what you are passionate about. If you do know what you are passionate about, doing those things more leads to more joy and natural energy. One thing I really love is playing, writing and arranging music. Whenever I'm playing lots of music, time goes by quickly, I feel very fulfilled and am proud of my accomplishments. Whenever I'm not playing enough music, it always feels like something is missing and absent from my life. Even though I'm passionate about music, sometimes I get so wrapped up in doing other things that I neglect to play as much as my soul desires. Part of doing the things you are passionate about means carving out specific times to do the things you love, which often means reducing the quantity of less-exciting things you are doing.

Another part of doing things you are passionate about requires living with an adventurous spirit by trying new activities and experiences. Broadening your experiential world expands your understanding of life, improves your ability to connect with other people and helps you to find more things that you are passionate about--which you never knew you are passionate about because you hadn't tried them before. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, or push the boundaries of what is familiar and normal, and other times it just means that you have to be creative and train yourself to think in new ways. Recently, sensing that I wasn't as passionate about life as I wanted to be, I started exploring my world and looking for something new to do. As someone who loves playing games (primarily board games, card games and pen & paper role-playing games), I stopped by a local Games Workshop and started to learn about hobby gaming, which combines aspects of wargaming (more in-depth and involved than board games) with artistic creativity (assembling and painting your army). While I do have a decent collection of miniature figures, I have never before assembled or painted my own, and I've been quite enjoying the new challenges that comes from exercising my creativity in new ways. Though I'm not very good at it yet, since I just began last week, I really enjoy conceptualizing and painting my little soldiers. Similarly, my best friend was looking for something new to do, and just over a month ago he borrowed my acoustic guitar and starting teaching himself to play. Since then, he's been playing non-stop and even put on a little show at his grandmother's birthday party last Saturday. Yesterday, we drove down to Guitar Center and he bought his own electro-acoustic guitar. After buying it, he looked as thrilled as if he had won the lottery. Trying new things is a great way to discover more things that you are passionate about and to discover talents you didn't know you had.

The second part of living a joyous and passionate life is to be passionate about the things you are doing. This sort of attitude is quite similar to contentment and akin to gratitude, which both do not come naturally, but must be continually cultivated. Often there are things in your life that you used to enjoy, but now you feel very apathetic towards and half-hearted about doing. Thankfully, the downward trend of enjoyment is something that typically is reversible. My attitude towards going to church has been consistently waning for a few months. Because of that, I wasn't going as often, and when I did go, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did six months ago. Realizing this caused me to stop and reflect on why my heart wasn't in it as much. As I pondered this, I realized that one reason I felt less excited and engaged was that I had begun to take it for granted, rather than regarding going to church, worshipping God and fellowshipping with my church friends as a privilege. Another reason that my enthusiasm diminished was that I lost sight of the big picture, and consequently, forgot the value of the church community and communal worship. After those realizations, I make a conscious effort to remind myself of the reasons that I go to church, and consciously chose to engage my heart fully when I went. This last Sunday, as a result of my refreshed perspective, I felt more thankful and glad to be there, and God spoke to my heart through the sermon. Whenever there's something you used to love but are losing your enjoyment of, it's time to stop and reflect on what makes a certain activity or experience so great. Gratitude and contentment are attitudes that must be continually cultivated, and they always lead to more passionate and joyous living.

Sometimes there are things that you have to do, which you've never particularly liked. Personally, I think that if there's something you have to do, you might as well enjoy doing it. Jobs often fall into this category. While some people are truly enamored with their job, typically that is the exception, rather than the rule. Most people go to work because they have to, and aren't especially excited about it. While it might not be possible to be utterly delighted with your job, you can certainly brighten your outlook and increase your joy by focusing on the positive aspects and actively taking note of the things you enjoy about it. Downward comparison also will increase your satisfaction with things that feel like unpleasant necessities. For example, even though sometimes my job involves a lot of boring, mindless programming, the very fact that I have a job in this economy is something to be thankful for. It pays well, the hours are flexible, my coworkers are great and we have the most amazing foosball matches during breaks every afternoon. While going to work might not be my favorite thing to do, when I look at from the right perspective it actually seems quite wonderful. You can apply this positive attitude to nearly anything in your life. Household chores, paying rent, necessary social functions and studying for tests can become things that you are passionate about if you simply remind yourself of all the blessings and benefits that accompany such necessities.

So, if your life is presently full of lots of things that you are excited and passionate about, rejoice in all of it and maintain an attitude of contentment and gratitude. If you're feeling that life is a bit lackluster, then make more time for the thing you love, be adventurous and try new things, and cultivate a positive attitude towards the things you are doing. Living passionately is the best way to have a joyous, invigorating and fulfilling life!


  1. Great post, living passionately is a must for a happy life.

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