If you watch some of the most brilliant motivational and inspirational talks and seminars in personal development, you will always find passion and the purpose of life to be a central theme. According to a growing number of authors and speakers, it seems that finding one’s passion and the resulting purpose of life is quite a big deal. No, not just a big deal, but The Deal. In so many ways this is true.
I mean, living a life in which you engage in whatever you do passionately is a hundredfold better than being demotivated, disengaged and dis-empowered as when you are stuck in a job or situation which not only doesn’t inspire you, but is dulling your mind and your spirit.
Many life coaches and keynote speakers will tell you that finding the purpose of life is one of the main keys to living a successful life. The idea is that when you know and keep your life vision in sight, everything seems to align on its own accord and hence life becomes easier rather than a struggle. The same thing goes with passion.
Being passionate is like raising your energies and being in tune with your highest potential. This gives you the ability to tirelessly create with optimism and with a sense of openness and adventure that pushes you forward with ease and courage. These two ingredients together will guarantee you success in whatever you do.
Revisting some ideas about passion and purpose of life
Are the purpose of life and passion somehow overrated? As I mentioned already, I agree with most of the spirit of what I have described above but however I think that some things need to be revisited and we need to understand that it is not always a one-size-fits all thing. Let’s look at some popular preconceptions about passion and life purpose that need to be revisited and put a little bit into sharper perspective.
1. It’s not really about passion but about curiosity
It’s not that passion is wrong or that it shouldn’t be pursued, yet I completely agree with Elizabeth Gilbert in her last book ‘Big Magic,’ that modern-day society has fetishized passion a bit too much. Passion is all fantastic and fine if you have it, but we should not bust a kidney to get it or get wound up if we don’t. It’s OK.
What you need instead is curiosity. Be curious, or better, allow yourself to be curious. This is also a fantastic indication of what really aligns and resonates with you. What makes you curious? Follow that curiosity and give it space. Don’t be afraid to do ’stupid’ things for curiosity. Ask, explore, experiment, play, ‘waste’ time, fail, as long as it keeps you curious and it’s all fun.
2. Sometimes the passion fruit has no juice (or is not ripe)
This is why we shouldn’t bank it all on passion because the flame of passion is not always burning. There are times of course when (for many plausible reasons), we are not that passionate. I am not talking about when we are dull, depressed, debilitated, etc—that would be a sign that we need to address an issue.
I am talking of times when we are totally fine and in shape but we don’t feel particularly passionate about something—our work, our projects, hobbies and life in general.
This is fine because the truth is that even the most passionate people are not passionate all the time. It shouldn’t be a measure that something is wrong or that you should be panicking in bringing yourself back in line. Relax, it’s fine. Sometimes it’s not the time for it either.
Perhaps it will come in a particular period in your life or when something else got cleared away. The idea is that passion is not always present all the time. Get used to the idea and this will eventually help you be more at ease with the changing life currents without stressing yourself out, which in reality is the real passion killer.
3. It’s not about getting naked and jumping into the unknown
This probably has also got to do with the way we fetishize both passion and the purpose of life. We have this archetypal image in our mind of someone finding his or her truth (his/her life purpose) and making a sudden and total transformation often symbolized by shedding of the clothes and walking/diving naked into the deep unknown with bravery.
This image points at the often romanticized idea that when people find their life purpose it is often a thunder flash of biblical proportions that will shake you to the core and you will feel the compulsion to follow. Now, although this can be the case with some people, it is certainly not the way it usually goes.
It is normal that people uncover rather than discover their life purpose as a revelation.
Uncovering is often a more appropriate word since the truth is hidden inside of us and all we need to do is peel off those layers of social conditioning and false beliefs and find our authentic and genuine aspirations. Uncovering is also more gradual than discovering or stumbling upon something.
Once again, although self discovery is still a plausible and genuine path to finding a life purpose for some, it is not the norm and hence it should not be your expectation or measure. Know that, for most, finding the purpose of life can take a long journey because of many circumstances. In the end it’s all perfect the way it is.
4. The purpose of life may not always be obvious
You know the funny thing is, the purpose of life being such an important thing as it is, it’s still not always obvious. Some people perhaps have it easier because they show unmistakable signs and dispositions since they are young, or more likely they would be close to it at an early stage in their life.
For example a dancer or choreographer who came across the path and knew ‘this is it’ since she was 7 or 8. Yet once again, for most people the purpose of life is not always obvious because it does not correlate to a pre-established role in society. Think for instance of somebody whose life purpose is that of a Reiki healer. He or she will need to go through a long windy road and stepping stones to get to the final destination.
5. Some people have no one single purpose in life
This is something which is kind of fairly evident in many people yet seems to be often ignored. The fact is that many people do not have one single passion or one life purpose. Some people are quite divergent and have multiple interests, passions and life purposes.
The reason why so many people are confused when it comes to life purpose is because the idea of the purpose of life is often sold as a single thing and not as a multiple one. So, if like me you happen to have more than one interest you are passionate about, do not be confused. Know that following your life purpose doesn’t always mean following one thing in a single-minded way. Which takes me to the next point.
6. Single mind (focus) and single purpose are not the same thing
Very often people confuse the idea of being single-minded to having a single life purpose. Once again the idea of someone who has just one thing he or she is obsessed about like a mad genius, is something we like to perhaps over-portray.
The fact is that you can have one purpose in life but not follow it obsessively or else you can have multiple points of interest, each of which you dedicate a lot of focus and attention to, although not concurrently of course.
7. Your purpose shouts at your face at the right time
We also have the idea that our life purpose will make itself manifest like the proverbial burning bush. It will hit us right in our face in the most obvious way in a moment of undeniable revelation. Once again, this could be the case but it is not so for most.
From my own experiences and through observing a lot, I realized that there is an important key in the path of discovering one’s mission in life and that is simplifying life. This has already been hinted in one of the points above with the idea of uncovering rather than discovering.
When we start simplifying our life, we start shedding off all those aspects of ourselves and our life that are not authentically ours.
What do I mean by simplifying life? It can start from the most material and mundane like for example decluttering your living- and workspace. Letting go of those things which were there just because at one point you thought they were pretty or just had a short-lived purpose. The physical debris we accumulated under the pressure of a consumerist mindset.
Yet the debris is not only physical and neither is the space that it clutters. We also clutter our minds with beliefs that do not serve us any longer, or never have for that matter. Ideas, concepts and expectations that fuel our frenetic lifestyles such as for example the belief that we should fit in a certain social role or model or perhaps the belief that we need to be in a certain position or acquire certain rewards in order to feel that we have ‘made it.’
The examples can go on endlessly but I’m sure you get the drift. Once we start simplifying our life by being more mindful of our buying patterns, our lifestyle choices, and understanding more that being conventional doesn’t always mean being good, we start freeing our mind, our spaces, so that things which are genuinely ours become more visible and apparent.
Living an authentic life in line with your purpose is not about doing more or doing something right. It is about continuously lightening the luggage you carry so you are freer to occupy yourself with those things that resonate more with your true aspirations and ambitions.