Finding Your Life’s Purpose

I used to think that finding your purpose was as impossible as finding your keys on a busy morning. It was something you couldn’t do on your own. And it had to involve a little hair pulling and be stress inducing.

So I did that. I confronted it the way I did any problem. I used my left brain, researching like crazy, spending hours in bookstores and libraries pouring over job descriptions in the hope that I would eventually find my answer.

Of course, I didn’t find it. Because digging for truth from external resources never gets you to where you want to go. The only way to find out what you were meant to do is listen. You already know.

{I took that frame with my iPhone so forgive the wavy lines.}

The moment we’re desperately seeking something we’re forgetting our own inner wisdom. The intuitive voice that says, “Remember how you used to love creating stories when you were a kid,” or “think about all the time you spend taking pictures as a teen.” It’s that little spark of energy you feel when you’re doing something you thoroughly love. It’s the activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow. It’s an experience that years after it happened touched you and now you’re changed forever.

A dream isn’t something that needs to be discovered. A dream is already there.

It could have been planted as a seed from the time you were born or it could have grew into an entirely different plant as you’ve gotten older.

Your dreams are an already existing garden. Why haven’t you found it yet? You’ve let the weeds grow over your passion because of time, fear, and the dream killers who you’ve allowed to dictate your life.

If you’re feeling lost, stuck, confused about what you want to do with the rest of your life, stop asking others for help. Stop perusing the career section in your local bookstore. Instead, peer down into your neglected past. Remember your roots and nourish the moments that you used to love, but forgot about. Cultivate your passions and you will eventually rediscover that garden and those precious seeds you planted as a child.

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Is Passion a Dirty Word?

If it is now, it never used to be. I think passion was a buzzword until it burnout from overuse.

Nowadays some cringe when they hear it. They believe passion prevents us from getting things done. It can be stifling. If we’re not living up to our passion, maybe our lives are useless. And do we even need passion anyway? There are tons of people who are filthy rich and successful doing things they are not passionate about right?

How Important is Passion?

To answer this question, we must first look at what passion is. According to Joan Borysenko in Fried: Why You Burn Out,

“Passion is pure energy-vitality-which is exactly what dies in burnout.”

It is the inner spark, that internal enthusiasm that makes you stay up at night following a dream, what you can’t stop talking about, what drives you despite setbacks, obstacles or fear. It is flow. It is bliss. It is the sense that you could do whatever it is you’re doing regardless if you were getting paid for it. Passion is not deterred by change. It is enlivened by it. Sometimes we lose our passion because we are burnt out, we are afraid or get so caught up in the day to day tasks of our lives that we forget. But it is still within us.

Passion isn’t a luxury, it is our necessity. Following our passion allows us to express the very essence of who we are.

I sometimes think people say, “passion shmassion” (or maybe they don’t literally say that) because they are afraid of pursuing their dreams. It takes courage and faith to not just follow what thrills us, but to find it. Borysenko says it requires two things: listening for external cues and having faith in the unknown.

Maybe people get caught up into believing the following:

Passion = ? (doctor, lawyer, artist, teacher, etc.)

They get bogged down in the erroneous belief that passion requires a specific role or occupation that needs to be filled. Instead The Book of Awakening author Mark Nepo says, “This is not about being a poet or a florist or a doctor or a lawyer or an architect. It is about the true vitality that waits beneath all occupations for us to tap into, if we can discover what we love.”

And passion isn’t just a byproduct of a middle class economy, it is our god given right to pursue it. Nepo beautifully adds that the joy received when we follow our passion is “not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health.”

Remember that the next time someone calls you “selfish” for following your dreams!

 

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