The new Audible Original – “Compete to Create: An Approach to Living and Leading Authentically” launched this week. One of the hidden challenges it raises for living well is “The Passion Trap.”
People often fall into the trap of believing they need to find that one thing they are passionate about – whether it’s writing, traveling or weaving baskets — and do that in order to be fulfilled and happy. i.e. “I have to leave my corporate accounting job and join an ashram.”
The trap: the false belief that you have to do something (the right job) in order to be something (passionate). This model is dependent solely on what you do, not how you experience what you do.
Be Here Now
Passion isn’t a by-product of an action you take. It actually springs from your ability to be in the present moment. It makes clear sense that those of us who struggle with the ability to “be here now” would use a specific action as the driver for feeling passion. Put another way – if you struggle with anxiety or are easily irritable or are pervasively sad or chronically fatigued, of course, it would be hard to feel passion or a regular basis. Of course, you would need an ambient activity to change your inner experience, to release passion. In that light, the activity then becomes the forcing function for experiencing passion. Therein lies the trap – with passion being beholden to a set of actions, rather than passion threading through all actions.
The sustainable keyhole to living with passion is greeted at your ability to reorient your mind back to “this moment” – regardless of what you are materially doing.
Passion becomes readily available once we become skilled with working with our inner life. When the narrative we have running on a loop inside our heads is telling us, “this moment is boring, not meaningful, not good enough…” passion will be a casualty of that story.
Doing something that naturally creates the internal space for you to feel passion does, however, play a vital role in reconnecting with your passion. It reminds us of what passion feels like. So, camp in the woods! Paint that painting! Build that birdhouse for your son or daughter! Play in your sandbox, whatever that is! But just know that the activity itself is not the reason for passion. It’s your ability to let go, to become absorbed in the present activity. To appreciate the wonders of the unfolding moment. To love the rush that comes with unlocking something new.
The real work is to bring that inner fire into every part of your life, so you can live with passion everywhere you go. And the gateway to doing that is increasing your ability to be in the present moment.
Michael Gervais, PhD
Co-founder, Compete to Create
Host, Finding Mastery
“Every day is an opportunity to create a living masterpiece.”