old man passionMy wife just shared with me a sad story about a woman getting killed in a freak accident while walking down the street in NYC.

Uncontrollable events like this happen all the time and they remind me of the fragile and fleeting nature of life and the importance of living it to the fullest now. If you’re still putting up with a mediocre life in hopes of getting something out of it at the end, please reconsider.

One way to live a fulfilling life is to …

… follow your PASSION.

 

Passion is one of those words that people use often without really understanding the original meaning of the word. When most people refer to “passion”, they use it to mean strong emotions reflecting an intense desire or boundless enthusiasm (At least, that’s how I’ve always heard it used).

It was only after reading Aspire by Kevin Hall and confirming with the dictionary, did I realize that “passion” originally meant:

A Willingness to Suffer for What You Love

The most famous example being the passion of Jesus Christ. This definition has changed my perspective about passion. I no longer use it to describe something that I feel strongly about or that excites me. I use it to describe an activity, goal or cause that I care about so much that I am willing to suffer for it. This new standard makes it easier to discern whether something is truly my passion or simply a strong interest.

People who make a difference in their own lives and the world do so by following their passion. This means making the conscious decision to give up other enjoyable activities to focus your energy on the most important activities. Great parents naturally do this when they have children and like raising kids, doing what you love is very hard work yet rewarding at the same time. The good news is when you pursue your passion, you’ll not only like where you end up but enjoy the journey along the way.

Look at your life and highlight the things you love that you’re willing to suffer for. This self-reflection will give you insight into what you’re passionate about. If you’re not sure, just pick something you enjoy and see if you’re willing to give up other activities to spend more time on it. Remember that in life you can choose and change your actions – just also keep in mind that you’re responsible for the consequences.

Don’t settle for a life that is only so-so.

Start living your best life today.

 

“There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”

-Warren Buffett

 

For those of you who read the entire article or just scrolled to the bottom, here is a bonus word (also from Kevin Hall’s Aspire):

Compassion = Com + Passion = Willing to Suffer with Another

If you want to show true compassion, share in the suffering of the other person. Interestingly, when we all become more compassionate, there will probably be less suffering in the world.

Photo by Andreas Schalk

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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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13 Responses to The Real Meaning of Passion

  1. Passion is also related to “obsession” which is a “preoccupation with an idea” or a “willingness to pursue that idea at any cost”. Great post, Robert.

  2. Lioness Sushil Bansal says:

    I believe you are dedicated towards your goals to serve humanity without any discretion and provide the reader golden opportunity to do the needful for less fortunate section of the society.
    God bless you very nice article.

  3. Natalie Jones says:

    Great read, Robert. Really looking forward to more. I just recalled this speaker called Moustafa Hamid from Passion Sundays I came across in Dubai. Anyway, would love to read some more.

  4. Asa Wihlbeck says:

    Thanks for a much needed clarification of passion. In today’s world, where ease, comfort, feeling good, being happy seem to have become synonymous with a ‘good life’ this deeper satisfaction of creating meaning by following a higher purpose (and all the suffering it brings) is poorly understood and poorly appreciated. (Stoicism has something of a popular revival, but I’m not sure how deep it goes.) I think we also need to teach our kids this. It requires fortitude and courage to be able to take the different forms of suffering that ‘passion’ brings. There is a deeper satisfaction on the other end – even if you never reach the external goal you had envisioned. It’s a process. It’s also often a very lonely journey. I think the book Gumptionade is a very helpful book for adults who have the ‘gumption’ to live with passion, and be motivated to stick with it.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this Asa. I completely agree that we are all meant to contribute in our own special way and that following your passion is as much joy as it is hard work. I look forward to reading gumptionade.

  5. Sharon R. Martin says:

    I came across your blog post while looking for a definition of passion that would make sense to students in grades 4 through 8 who will be asked to write a short essay (2 typed pages) on: What are you passionate about? How can you use your passion to bring a diverse group of people together? To build community?

    The genesis for the essay topic is a student supplement that focuses on African Americans who have brought together diverse communities around an issue or their passion. How have they been brought unity among diverse cultures.

    I’m not sure students in this grade range would understand what they are being asked to write about as the topic is currently written. Any thoughts on clearer verbiage? Please know that although this is a program revolving around African Americans, the essay contest is not limited to African American students.

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thank you for your question Sharon and it’s great that you are having this contest. You might want to consider a broader version of the definition of passion focused on one’s interests.

  6. Sharon R. Martin says:

    It is a Michigan only contest, however.

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