A life without passion is no life at all

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‘Live With Passion’.

This is the printed slogan on the refillable water bottle I carry round with me a freebie from a conference I attended. I like it. I certainly like the idea at least. It seems like everyone who is quotable, from Harriet Tubman to Charlie Sheen, has made some reference to passion and its importance for success, fulfillment or self-expression.

But what does it really mean to live with passion?

Passion is a word bandied about a lot during February. But is passion really heart-shaped candy and extra kisses? There are many dictionary interpretations of the word: any powerful or compelling emotion; strong sexual desire; an intense enthusiasm they don’t seem to fully encapsulate the notion for me somehow.

I widened my search to see how others describe passion and how they are putting it into practice in their lives. The word ‘intensity’ is mentioned often. One blogger says passion is lust, a lust for life. Oprah Winfrey says, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Tony Robbins describes passion as power, “to move our lives forward at a faster tempo than ever before”.

And in her book ‘The Dancing Animal Woman’ author and educator, Anne Hillman writes:

“I did not know I was on a search for passionate aliveness. I only knew I was lonely and lost and that something was drawing me deeper beneath the surface of my life in search of meaning.

“There is a hunger in people to go to those deep depths; to know that our lives are sacred; that our hearts are truly capable of love. It is a yearning to be all that we can be. A longing for what is real.”

Desire, energy, power and personal truth: the descriptions differ but they begin to build a picture of this almost unquantifiable thing we call passion.

Perhaps it is easier to identify when passion is missing and what it is not.

I see a number of clients who come to coaching thinking they are somehow broken: the world doesn’t seem to hold much joy for them, life feels static, they are just going through the motions.

They may have nice things in their lives, people they love etc, but when I ask what they are currently passionate about, the answer is invariably, ‘nothing’.

A life without passion can feel numb, empty, lacking fulfillment, withered, switched off and somehow wrong. I can identify with this all too well having spent a few years in a very unhappy marriage during which, for the sake of convention, I allowed myself to turn away from the things that mattered to me, that I enjoyed, and ultimately from being true to myself.

But passion does not die … even if forgotten for a long time. I don’t believe the pilot light ever goes out. Rekindling the flame is just a matter of having the courage and energy to crank up the heat again and explore what’s been missing.

For those clients who say they have no passion, I ask questions to help jog their memories and rediscover it:

* What has made you really happy in the past?

* What do/did you love to do and bring you joy?

* If you could do anything, what would it be?

* What do you believe in and are willing to ‘bang the table’ for?

* What do you feel strongly about? Passion can sometimes be borne out of pain. If an idea or cause elicits pain or tugs at your core values, it may be a sign to turn your energy towards it and do something about it.

* What special part of you/your abilities/your interests have you not been recognising lately?

* How did you feel when you were last doing/being that?

Answering, the client will suddenly light up, as if just switched-on: they have figured out what’s lacking. It could be anything from knitting to political campaigning but their eyes become alive and their speech quickens as they talk about what it is that used to provide so much pleasure or meaning.

This is usually followed by a list of reasons, perhaps excuses, why they haven’t done it lately. Most of the blame is on being caught up in the daily grind of careers/families/financial concerns/other people’s expectations/lack of time … peppered with fears like whether they are any good at it, or they may be rejected if they do it (especially if it means taking time from doing ‘stuff’ for other people to do something for themselves), or if honouring and nurturing our true selves (some might call it our soul) is really important enough.

What do you think? The proof is in the pudding. When these clients begin to take action to reintroduce their passions into their lives, even small actions, the transformation is amazing. They arrive at sessions bubbling with new-found energy from knitting one dish cloth!

Respecting and engaging in our passions not only makes that area of life happier or more fulfilling, it seems to spread throughout one’s existence. Clients report improved relationships, more healthful energy and enjoying work more. Even just a little passion seems to go a long way.

Heading towards Valentine’s Day, I offer these tips for rekindling and living with … more passion:

* Make a list of the things you love to do and things you feel strongly about and find ways to incorporate doing them or addressing them into your daily life;

* Gather or create ‘passion reminders’: music, pictures, ideas that excite you things that take you back to passionate times … surround yourself with them;

* Spend time with passionate people … someone else’s spark can light you up;

* Practice stepping outside your comfort zone passion is not safe, it doesn’t have to be danger but it involves stretching and measured risks;

* Be filled with curiosity and a hankering to learn — growth and passion go hand in hand

* Avoid getting sucked into numbing distractions like too much TV (my personal bane), video games, obsessive Facebooking, drugs … passive time-fillers that take you away from active living;

* Believe in the worth of your passion. Allow it to defy fears or convention. Steven Roberts, a pioneer in alternate living, said: “The real prisons are those of expectation: denying the possibilities of your life in order to be what somebody else wants you to be.”

* Make a list of the people you love and orchestrate quality moments and kind gestures as often as possible;

* Create a bucket list of things you really want to do in your lifetime and ask yourself daily, what small thing can I be doing today towards achieving that?

* Find the things you are passionate about and do them, often.

“ … if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be” Roald Dahl, ‘My Uncle Oswald’

On this upcoming day of hearts and roses and beyond, perhaps we can all drink in life a little more and strive indeed to ‘live with passion’.

Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner. For further information telephone 705-7488 or visit www.juliapittcoaching.com.

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Published Feb 12, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm)

A life without passion is no life at all

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