When you think of having passion in—or for—life, what comes to mind? For some, it may conjure images of being connected to one’s personal drive; what excites or motivates them. For others, the word passion may be directly linked to the feeling of being on the right path, surrounded by the right people, and living your life’s purpose. Whatever it is for you, it’s important to know what drives the choices you make in your life so you can figure out how to find your passion.
Definitions of Passion
First, let’s consider some definitions of the word passion. Passion (in the context of life) can be defined as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, such as love, excitement, or inspiration. It can also be a strong or extravagant fondness or enthusiasm for anything. Similarly, your passion for something is how you express or show your emotions and feelings about or toward that thing.
Another interesting thing worth noting is that words mean different things to different people. Your definition of passion (in or for life) may have a completely different meaning than your best friend’s or partner’s based on what that phrase means to you, personally. You might be thinking, “There is a specific dictionary definition for the word passion, so it has to be the same thing for everyone.” The answer is both yes and no. Yes, you have been given parameters with definitions and, for every word you know, you have what is referred to in the field of psychology as an internal representation (I/R). An internal representation is a picture you hold in your mind that has several components, which include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory (also known as sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste). Essentially, your I/R or internal representation is what defines any word or phrase for each of us, personally.
Unbox a Limited Mindset
An I/R offers highly valuable insight into how the human mind works because until you understand how your unconscious (subconscious) mind encodes information, it can be easy to get boxed in to limited views of yourself and the world. People have a tendency to believe that there’s only one way to perceive, interpret, and evaluate the words you use, the way you feel, and what motivates the choices you make. People have been conditioned to believe that others think the same way you do and when it becomes clear that is not the case, conflict arises—sometimes internal and sometimes external—and it’s difficult to comprehend why that is.
Knowing what you are passionate about in life can be one of the biggest drivers for achieving happiness, joy, and fulfillment. When you know who you are and what makes you tick, you increase the likelihood of living the life you’re destined to be living. Understanding that every individual has his or her own source of passion within, you’re able to respect and celebrate your similarities and your differences.
What Does Passion (in Life) Mean to You?
There are a few fun approaches to identifying how you define passion in life. Before you start, make sure you have a pen and paper handy or you can use your preferred smartphone or tablet.
A great place to start is by closing your eyes and asking yourself, “What does having passion for life mean to me?” or, “How do I define passion in my life?” Pay attention to—and write down—anything that comes to mind. You might hear words or phrases. Write down what you hear. Are there other people around? Is it your voice or other sounds? You might see an image of yourself doing something that totally inspires you or you may feel strong emotions arising. Jot down anything you see and include as much detail as possible, including any feelings you have. You might even associate what’s coming up with certain tastes or smells. Whatever comes up is perfect and will give you a good idea of how you define passion in your own life.
Your Values Are Directly Linked to Your Passion
Another way of defining your passion is through knowing who you are—not your name or career position but, rather, who you are at the core of your being. Who you are is directly linked to your core values. You have a set of core values for every area of your life. For example, you have a set of values in the areas of career, relationships, health, family, personal growth, money, and spirituality or religion. You also have a bigger picture set of values for life. If you’ve ever watched the Pixar movie Inside Out, you know that your unconscious mind is the one in charge of storing and organizing your emotions, your beliefs, your memories, and your core values—not your conscious, linear “thinking” mind. So, there’s a specific process for discovering your core life values and your own “personal brand” and it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- Close your eyes and ask yourself, “What is important to me about life?” Write down any words or short phrases that pop into your mind. You might hear things like family, career, creativity, health, giving back, relationships, purpose, and fulfillment. Just write down whatever you hear.
Note: It’s important that you not copy this list—even though these things may sound nice—but write down what comes to mind for you. Otherwise, you’ll be listing someone else’s values and interests and his or her values will likely be different than yours.
- Next to each of these words or short phrases, number them in order of importance. They will all be important, but play along by numbering them anyway. Don’t think about it too much. Just ask your unconscious mind to tell you the order.
- On a fresh sheet of paper (or a new screen), rewrite your list in the new hierarchy.
Voila! This tells you what is most important to you about life. Now you can see what areas of life come first. This will tell you what order of importance you do things. You may find that your family comes first and that is where you derive your passion and purpose in life. Or, perhaps it’s in volunteering activities and giving back to your community. Maybe it’s your fulfilling career or your experience doing a certain hobby. Whatever is important and fulfilling for you is perfect. Pursue your passion and feel a sense of purpose in life. If you want to drill down into this even more, next choose a specific area of life and repeat this process. This will tell you what drives your energy, mindset, emotions, and physical motivation in that area of life – which will point directly to what you are most passionate about. Then do another area of life, and another. This is, by far, one of the best ways to get to know yourself.
Another way to explore what passion means to you is to simply ask yourself the question, “What do I absolutely love doing—that, when I’m doing this one thing it’s as if time stands still and I’m lost in the moment?” This is a more simplistic approach and one that is easy to do on a regular basis, as it will keep you anchored to and working towards what you enjoy most in life, ultimately, leading you to a more purposeful life.