Look at that title. Did it make you tilt your head to the side and utter a little “huh?”
It seems like it would be obvious, right? Certainly if you’re doing something you hate, you know it. So you should know if you love something as well.
Or so logic would seem to dictate.
But I know how muddled what we think we know can be sometimes. We start down a chosen path, toward a desired goal, and along the way we can get stuck. It starts to feel unsatisfying. What does it mean?
We tell ourselves that we’re simply having a momentary dip in our enthusiasm. An energy ebb, if you will. But what if that ebb sticks around for just a tad too long? Are we simply being challenged, or is it more than that?
Yes, challenges are always there, no matter how much we love what we do.
But when was the last time you spent time on an activity that had you so engrossed that when you looked up, hours had passed and you hadn’t even noticed?
Have you ever sat down to work on something and the next time you looked up, the room was dark, the house was quiet and you felt like you were sitting in a cave?
I have. I have found myself sitting on the couch, writing something or working on a project, and the only light in the room, when I lifted my head and took notice of my surroundings, was the one on my computer.
I’ve heard that the real test of whether you’re spending your time on something you truly love is that what seemed like mere minutes passing was actually hours. You were so totally and completely immersed in what you were doing that it was as if time had stopped.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you spent your days doing what you lose yourself within?
And wouldn’t be even better if you were paid to do it?
The irony is that when you love what you’re doing, the money won’t matter. You would do it whether paid to do it or not.
I really believe that those who follow their true desire, make their passion in life their vocation, live longer, happier, more content lives. They look forward to getting up and getting started every day.
I used to think it was only people in the arts. I would point to Arthur Rubinstein, the great concert pianist, who lived to be 95. Or George Burns, a well-known comedian who lived to be 100. Aha, I said. They loved what they did. They were happy. They were artists. That’s the key.
Then my brother pointed out that the business magnate of Occidental Petroleum, Armand Hammer, lived to be 92. Well, there went my artist theory.
That’s when I realized it had nothing to do with what these people did. It was how they felt about it.
Now, I admit I have not done in-depth research on this, but the number of people who have lived very long lives while staying active and engaged in what they love to do is high enough that it’s hard to imagine that there’s not some common denominator shared by all of them.
Betty White. There’s another one. Can anyone who watches her in her work doubt for a moment that she is not having the time of her life? Still?
It doesn’t really seem to matter what you do with your life, as long as you love it, get immersed in it, and want to do it, paid or not.
So how do you know for sure what your passion is?
Here are some common traits that I believe prove that you are doing what you love:
- you lose track of time when you’re doing it
- you are likely to let other things, even if important, go untended for long periods of time
- you are unaware of what is happening around you
- you wake up in the morning anxious to get started
- you go to bed at night looking forward to getting back to it
- it’s always on your mind, even when you’re doing other things
Now, admittedly, some of these can happen any time you get involved in anything, but if there are activities you do — cooking, writing, gardening, painting, drawing — that when you do them, you are so immersed in them that the world around you seems to recede into the background, then that qualifies as a passion. At least I believe it does.
And if you can find a way to turn that passion into a vocation, well, then you will have found the motherlode.
Life is short. We spend so much time doing what we should be doing rather than what we love to do.
And the quality of our lives is the price of admission.
What is your passion? How can you make it a bigger part of your life?
If you’ve been shoving it under the rug and trying, and failing, to ignore it, maybe it’s time to throw that rug in the garbage. It’s never too late to follow your heart.
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