Finding Your Passions

Great dancers aren’t great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.” –Martha Graham

I am an optimizer (I come from a long line of optimizers). I like to optimize pleasurable things in life, like meals. Like this dinner (fish tacos from Hula Grill in Kaanapali):

Now – I’m not going all Brave New World on you. I don’t think that we should amuse ourselves to death. But I do think that there’s merit in doing what you love, even if it has no real purpose. If you do what you love, you won’t be stressed out, and you’ll probably be happier and live longer. If I’m going to tie this back to food, I would say that if you’re happy (and distracted by the things that make you happy) you are probably not mindlessly snacking or incessantly worrying about your diet.

So what about passions?

You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing.” –Dale Carnegie

If you know what your passion(s) is (are), great. You are way ahead of the rest of us. If you don’t, I think you can figure it out by starting with the basics – enjoying yourself to figure out what makes you happy.

What I am trying to say, in this roundabout way, is that we should always make time for the little things that make us happy, because those little things add up over a lifetime. If you don’t add in the little things, life gets boring, and the big things can’t make up for the cumulative benefits of all those little fun things.

After a while you can use those little things to discover something (something bigger maybe) that you are passionate about and that you can do for a living, or do on the side – something that gets you up in the morning and makes you eager to see what happens next.

Finding What You Really Love – My Story

On our honeymoon we took long walks, we read, we cooked, we ate good food, we drank (a little), and we just hung out. Those things all make me really happy. Maybe those activities aren’t really “passions” in the traditional sense, but they all maximized my happiness. I don’t usually take time in real life (as opposed to honeymoon life) to do those things because I don’t feel like they have a real purpose – but they do have a purpose: to make me happy!

Now that I’m back, I’ve realized a few things:

  1. The first is that food doesn’t really matter all that much (to me – maybe you are different!). It’s yummy and good and all, but it doesn’t deserve more of my life than the time that my 3 meals + 2 snacks a day add up to.
  2. The second is that I love to read, and I need to keep books on my shelf that are so good I can’t put them down. When I have a great book in my hands, I can’t think about anything else. Reading is my most favorite thing to do at night after a long day and right before I go to sleep.
  3. The third – apparently I like to write. I have all these words that keep pouring out of my fingers and onto the page screen. I feel so refreshed when I finish a post.

So now I’m doing all these things that I enjoy and it’s helping me figure out what I’m passionate about and what I want to do next.

Finding Passions – Next Steps

Start with the little things. What do you enjoy? Here are some ideas:

  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Writing/journaling
  • Listening to or playing music
  • Doing yoga
  • Volunteering (This is great, because not only are you having fun, but you are helping other people at the same time. If you are in New York, Free Arts NYC has a great mentoring program that you should get involved in.)

Find the little things that make you happy; maybe one of them you’re passionate about. Then do everything you can with that passion.

Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.”  –Terri Guillemets

Here is one last quote that I found while searching for quotes on passion (I just thought it was funny, and at least a little bit true):

The most beautiful make-up of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” — Yves Saint Laurent

Do you know what you’re passionate about?

8 Replies to “Finding Your Passions”

  1. Gosh, I so love this post.
    I think I am also very passionate about reading (and writing). I have a lot of stress in my life now, so I feel very scattered/unfocused, but I believe that if I just deal with one day at a time, then I can be okay – and my “passions” can help me to find peace in life.

    In the meantime, I have come to accept a simple walk as fine…and know that food obsessions are crazy.

  2. Sometimes I get so concerned about the big picture I forget about the little, enjoyable things, like reading, sitting down and watching the news, browsing through flyers, a phone call with a friend. The little things really do add up!

  3. I LOVED this post! I pretty much share many of your passions — reading, writing, yoga. You are right that food really doesn’t mean that much. I like cooking. I like knowing that I’m providing healthy, tasty food for my husband and me. I’ve been starting to embrace that I’m a simple person. I’m not a typical “adventurer,” but I take such pleasure in things like baking cookies or reading a book or watching a really good movie. Those simple things can be passions. I used to think a passion translated to some big, monumental mission, but I don’t think it has to be like that.

  4. Wow, I loved this! I’m like you in many ways. Yes, food is good and all but its not life.
    I’m very passionate about teaching yoga and teaching cooking. I do both as a profession which is awesome.
    I too like to write. I like writing humor and plan on writing a funny memoir about having an eating disorder and trying to recover (cause really, being afraid of carbs is kinda funny, no?). I like gardening although I kill most plants, but in theory I like it. Its something I used to do with my mother as a kid and ever since she died I felt closer to her when I was gardening. anyhow, lovely post!

  5. so so happy you had a great honeymoon and relaxed.

    I love the things that make you happy and are passionate about.

    I am still figuring all that out but totally being with my family, cooking, knitting, gardening are a few.

    I really need to get out and go hiking and spend some time camping soon.

  6. I totally agree with hedonism. Why not try to maximize pleasure? that’s what life is about! pleasure, fun, and happiness.

    I am passionate about animals–one of the things that makes me happiness is volunteering at animal shelters and I havent done it in years. Thanks for reminding me to add something into my life that I love.

  7. i have taken a step back from letting food be the center of my daily attention and i am definitely a lot happier because of it. i still haev a passion to cook and create new recipes, but food is not on my mind 24/7 like it was in the past.

    glad you were able to enjoy your honeymoon, sounds like it was just perfect.

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