In college, I had a friend named Sue. She was one of those people who exudes life and happiness, always had a smile from ear to ear, and always had a genuine, enthusiastic hug for you. She and I were never incredibly close, but I always felt the magnetic, contagious pull of her energy. I couldn't help but feel a little better after having spent some time with her.
We lost touch after college, and I saw her maybe a handful of times in the first few years after we graduated. It's been 20 years since graduation, and most of us have gotten caught up in our own lives, forgetting about the relationships we built back then. But I always remembered her energy.
Last week, I went to help one of the few college friends I'm still close to get settled into her new place. I didn't know she would be there, but Sue had come to help out, too.
I almost didn't recognize her. She seemed downtrodden. Her greeting was a halfhearted "hi." There was no Sue hug or smile. She didn't even get up. She just stayed where she was, putting together a shelf.
I obviously don't know what might've been happening in Sue's life to create this change in her demeanor. Life sends trials to all of us, and maybe getting up in the morning was the most she could promise herself that day.
There's no judgment from me here. But there is sadness. And a wish for anyone who can to keep the light they were born with, the passion they have lived with, the hope they have held.
Most of us lose our passion somewhere between childhood dreams and real-life responsibility. Or maybe it's when we lose our voices and allow others to dictate our direction.
But passion is the energy that makes things worth doing. It's what lights up the world. Passion is fuel for the soul and the birth of new ideas; the beating of the heart and the desire to love; the need to share itself with others. It is the stuff that makes life worth living. And it's time to take it back. Trek the long-forgotten road of your deepest desires and find that motivation again.
Let's call this your treasure map.
1. Start with joy.
What daily or weekly activities bring you joy?
Personally, I find such joy in clean sheets that I look forward all day to that first night of sinking down into the crisp, clean, cool sheets. Seriously. So, to get even more out of this experience, I turned it into a ritual. Every Sunday, I strip my bed, wash my sheets, and dry them. Then, I put them on with attention and care. I smooth out the sheets carefully, fluff the pillows, and arrange them all perfectly on the cozy duvet.
Find the small moments of joy in your life, and approach them with intention. You'll find more passion in your mundane rituals than many people find in their whole lives.
2. Recognize what it feels like to be passionate.
Remember a time when you lived passionately. Maybe it was playing make-believe with your toys as a kid. Maybe it was standing on the dresser and singing to an imagined audience. Capture that feeling.
3. Assess where passion is lacking, and find ways to inject it.
Assess what in your life you feel passionate about and what you don't, at this moment. The things that don't bring you passion are the ones that need editing.
That doesn't necessarily mean you have to stop doing those things. For example, brushing your teeth might not give you butterflies, but that doesn't mean you should stop cold turkey. Try buying yourself a fancy toothbrush or a special toothpaste. There's no reason for your everyday habits to be dull.
If you don't feel passionate about your job, what can you bring to your tasks to make it more fulfilling and exciting? A new attitude? A request for a promotion? Maybe even a whole new career path?
Slowly, one thing at a time, breathe new life into the tasks that make up your existence, or replace them with more fulfilling pursuits.
4. Turn discontent into incentive.
If you don't believe that you deserve a passion-filled life, you will never truly live one. To envy others without acting to achieve what you want is the path to bitterness and dissatisfaction. Every time you feel jealous of someone else, use that as motivation to take a step toward your dreams.
Passion is never-ending and self-replenishing. All you need to do is claim some for yourself. That, and share it with others once you do. Purpose is contagious.