Do You Actually Need a "Passion" in Life?
I consider myself extremely lucky for the fact that, not only do I have a passion, I am actually living my passion. Ever since I quit my job as a lawyer to go full-time into Health Coaching and Yoga Teaching, not a day has gone by that I haven't expressed gratitude for the fact that I get to do what I love as my full-time job. It truly is a privilege and one that I don't take lightly.
This change in careers has prompted many discussions with the people in my life and I have picked up on a reoccurring theme:
A certain worry about not having a "passion" in life.
Whether it's the people who aren't 100% fulfilled at their job but don't know what else they could do instead, or the ones (like me) who feel a strong need to find "purpose" and "meaning" in life, there seems to be a strong urge to find that passion and make it "Your Thing".
I sometimes catch myself getting worried about the possibility of, one day, maybe, not being that much into wellness and Yoga anymore.
Because... then what? It seems to me like it all comes down to finding identity through our passions... and losing one, or never finding one, is a scary thought. As Yogic philosophy teaches us, it is our Ego that needs to have a "thing" - an identity, a label, a box to fit into. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
So, then, what if you don't have a "thing"?
Are you doomed to a boring, meaningless life?
As I was reflecting on this topic, I stumbled across a podcast interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (well known for writing the book Eat, Pray, Love) - and here's what she had to say about it:
She explains that our society has come to "fetishize" passion, with a culture that keeps on saying "follow your passion", "follow your passion", ... which leads to a lot of us feeling very much pressured, or even excluded, when we don't know what our "passion" is.
Instead, Elizabeth Gilbert recommends to ditch passion for curiosity. Curiosity to try new things, to follow your impulses and your intuition, to meet to people, to visit new places... essentially, having the curiosity to be open to what the world has to offer.
"I think curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it’s a very gentle friend, and a very forgiving friend, and a very constant one. Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes, not so available. And so, when we live in a world that has come to fetishize passion above all, there’s a great deal of pressure around that."
The good news is that, by allowing curiosity in your life, you might just stumble across your passion. Maybe you have a potential passion, dormant inside of you, ready to be woken up once you'll have finally tried that thing that you are meant to discover.
But also... maybe not. And that's totally cool too. Because even if you don't find your absolute passion, a life of curiosity is still a life filled with new experiences, opportunities and openness.
Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us:
"Curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly, and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you. And it may not set your head on fire; it may not change your life; it may not change the world; it may not even line up with previous things that you’ve done or been interested in. It may seem very random and make no sense. And here’s the thing. Sometimes, following your curiosity will lead you to your passion. Sometimes it won’t; and then, guess what? That’s still totally fine. You’ve lived a life following your curiosity. You’ve created a life that is a very interesting thing, different from anybody else’s. And your life itself then becomes the work of art — not so much contingent upon what you produced, but about a certain spirit of being that, I think, is a lot more interesting, and also, a lot more sustainable."
What a great reminder that, as long as we remain curious, there is not such thing as a meaningless life. And also, maybe our "Thing" doesn't have to last a lifetime. Maybe our "Thing" can change from one day to the next! One day, it's Yoga. The next, it's gardening. I ask: why not?
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