This is a guest article contributed by Song. Interested in contributing an article to The Thought Experiment? Read more here, otherwise enjoy reading his work!
When people speak of passion, they often refer to it in a positive light, as in the case of a strong enthusiasm or love for something. However, Dictionary.com also defines passion as ‘any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, such as love or hate’.
Hate? That sure doesn’t sound positive. It is rare that we come across the word being used in a negative manner, such as “The Passion of the Christ”.
So it seems that passion is actually a neutral word, and it depends on what one is passionate about. When we read or hear people encouraging us to follow our heart and find our passion just like they have, it is easy to form the impression that their passion has made their lives paradise on earth, and that we should do likewise. While their lives may have been changed for the better because of it, such an understanding of passion focuses excessively on the outcome and skips the long and arduous process of getting there. It is a natural tendency for us to form a strong causal association between passion and desirable outcomes such as achieving happiness and fulfillment, and put on figurative blinders as to whether our passions are workable in reality.
With the above in mind, how about a different approach? Instead of dreaming about our passion like everyone else is doing, we can try looking at it from the opposite end of the spectrum. In other words, what we are willing to sacrifice to achieve it? Are we willing to undergo not only hardship, but potential pain and suffering in order to fulfill our goals?
The above approach is a litmus test to determine if our passion is for real, or just a fleeting compulsion. When we take a look at the lives of people who have achieved considerable success in their respective fields, we can observe that every single one of them made sacrifices for their passion. These people understand that sacrifices are necessary, not only to achieve what they set out to do, but also to make the passion worth fulfilling.
Why is this so hard to grasp? This is due to our fast-paced society, which prizes instant gratification. When we place the fulfillment of our immediate wants as our top priority, we fail to realize that such behavior is actually hindering our ability to succeed in our passion. The truth is, to develop the skills necessary to reach one’s full potential in his passion requires dedication and commitment over a prolonged period of time.
So, just how do we go about finding something worth our dedication and commitment? The reality is that there is no hard and fast rule. However, there are a few pointers which we can apply, in order to increase our chances of success in our pursuit of passion:
- Know yourself
- Experiment with different experiences to know oneself better
Don’t be afraid to try different jobs and pick up different hobbies in your youth, lest you regret not doing enough in your old age. Doing different things gives us a fuller and richer experience of what life has to offer.
- Keep asking introspective questions
Such questions may not be easy to answer. In fact, for some of them – it is nearly impossible. That does not change the fact that reflecting upon them will lead us to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
- Keep a record of your habits and think about your reactions and decisions
This is to prevent ourselves from becoming overconfident in our own abilities, and underestimating the difficulties and costs involved in making important choices in life.
- Know your circumstances
We may have a dream of traveling of space, but we must also recognize that our enthusiasm for space exploration must go hand in hand with the opportunities to be an astronaut, as well as the resources needed for us to fulfill that passion.
- Keep an open mind
- Always be learning
We are born without knowledge and wisdom, and it is only through learning that we have arrived at where we are today, with the skills to walk, converse, explore and discover.
- Be humble
Humility opens the doors to learning from others, as well as learning from our own mistakes. It is a necessary prerequisite to master on the path to acquiring new skills and talents.
- Know when to persevere
- Know when to quit
Failure may not be permanent, but persisting in something where one lacks the confidence to achieve success is foolishness.
- The path is not straight
Every individual has a different set of circumstances in life, but everyone suffers from having a finite amount of resources, such as money and time. It is better to be prepared for opportunities when they arise, than to jump headlong into an endeavor without preparation, which will only squander our resources.
I hope that reading this article will set you on the path to finding your own personal passion. The process is not something achieved by a snap decision made on the spur of the moment, but a lifelong journey, fraught with difficult decisions and hardships, but ultimately the most fulfilling experience one can ever have in his life.
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To find out how to get rid of the fear preventing you from living a full life, read more here.
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To learn how to find lasting happiness, find our more here.