One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.E. M. Forster
Part of our journey as humans is discovering what our passions truly are. Not what is in style, not pretending, not copying from others – really sensing one’s own passion and going for it. If you get rich along the way, so be it. Many famous, successful entrepreneurs attribute their success to their passion about their work. But of course you can much more easily lose money in the pursuit of your passion ;-).
The sensation of being in it is the goal, not the end result. What we chose to be passionate about is our own, to be respected without judgment. It makes us unique. Development of a passion is a fluid and ever-changing process. Some people have one passion that they pursue their whole life – they put in their 10,000 hours – while others flow from one to another.
Bringing your own passion to the table in a relationship keeps it real. There is no need to share the same passion as your partner or even to understand the intensity of its fervor. Giving your partner the space to pursue it is critical to a healthy relationship. If your partner is your sole passion, there is a problem.
In my work as a psychiatrist, I have come to understand how crucial passion is to a kick-ass existence. At a certain age some start to post pictures of others, rather than themselves. Their posts reflect joy from what their children or parents are doing. They are watching from the sidelines. We tend not to flaunt our passion unless we are really good at it.
One of the cardinal symptoms of mental illness is apathy, not caring. Patients suffering from depression cannot react, even when faced with a pleasurable stimulus. Exploring and finding a way to tap into a passion from the depths of despair can be a useful tool in recovery.
An early sign of memory impairment is loss of interest in activities the person used to care about deeply. Alzheimer’s caregivers report that one of the hardest behaviors to observe is the flat emotional indifference. It is heartbreaking to see the person who was once so vibrant staring into space. While there are guidelines to deal with delusional thinking, agitation and belligerence, there are few suggestions on how to deal with profound apathy.
I recently conducted a study on a group of cognitively healthy seniors in an effort to uncover the secret to brain health at such an advanced age. The presence of a passion was one of the most common similarities among these healthy seniors. Passions varied from music to pickle ball (very popular these days among seniors!) to volunteer work to cooking. The vast majority had a passion of some sort. They spoke of this activity with great enthusiasm and joy. Indeed, presence of a passion correlates with a lower risk of dementia. Do not put this off until the day that you are staring into space!
Having a passion will keep you in the game, relevant and involved. Jean-Paul Sartre wisely said
“We must act out passion before we can feel it.”
It might take some experimenting before finding the right fit. As a rule, if it motivates you to leave your cell phone behind it’s a pretty accurate sign you may be close to finding it.
Our passions are a way to keep us vibrant and informed. For those moments, everything else can wait. Hunger, sleep, and responsibility are all relegated to the back burner. Such a healthy romp inside of ourselves! We all need it – for the mind and body, and especially the soul.
Tell me your passion and I’ll tell you mine…