7 Ways to Discover Your Passion and Follow Your Pursuit of Happiness

I had yet to discover my passion. While this realization was simple the road to discovering what this passion was and how I could attain it was much harder and provided many more obstacles to overcome than I originally expected.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

For many years I struggled with depression, and for many years I received the same question over and over again. "Why do you feel depressed?" "Depression is complex," I would try to explain. There was no simple explanation I could give; no definition I could dictate from the dictionary. Depression isn't static; it morphs and changes from person to person and from situation to situation.

After many years of self reflection I learned that the main character in my drama of depression was not sadness but actually apathy and indifference. I spent many years of my life feeling hardly anything at all; not joy or sadness, despair or hope. I was lingering in an emotional purgatory, watching my family, friends and acquaintances move through life full of energy and emotions. I knew my lack of this was a fatal flaw in my personal makeup but for the longest time I could not figure out why.

For awhile I chalked it up genetics. I was born this way, into an apathetic existence where I felt indifference to a majority of things in my life. However as I spent more time watching others pursue their own happiness it dawned on me that my feelings had nothing to do with genetics at all. The root of my problem was in fact much simpler than I could ever imagine. I had yet to discover my passion. While this realization was simple the road to discovering what this passion was and how I could attain it was much harder and provided many more obstacles to overcome than I originally expected.

I am still on this path to discovering my passion and my own pursuit of happiness. It is a long road and one I will be traveling on for my entire life, a unique journey I must create for myself. Along the way I have uncovered seven things I feel are crucial to overcoming life's obstacles, discovering our passions and staying focused on the correct path for you.

1. Confront your fears. Do not spend your life avoiding, hiding or running away from them for they will always be close behind. Even when you think you have traveled great lengths to escape your fears mentally and physically they will still influence your thoughts and actions. Fear is a lack of knowledge; we fear the unknown because we do not yet understand it. With knowledge we can build confidence that can eradicate our fears and open up room for new opportunities.

2. Do not dwell on the past or regrets. They will only hold you back. Every choice, decision and event in this world has a purpose. As long as you learn from past experiences and mistakes you will find yourself walking away with more knowledge and less fear. Letting go of the past will ultimately allow you to move forward in your pursuit of happiness.

3. It's okay to make the same mistake more than once. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to figure everything out immediately and get it all right the first time. However we are all walking through life blind to the future and we should not be too hard on ourselves. We all learn and grow at different paces. Just because it takes a few tries to get yourself on the right track does not make you any less worthy of your passion. In fact it is this perseverance and refusal to give up that will make your goals all the more worthwhile once you get there because you worked that much harder to achieve them.

4. Take risks and follow your own path. Take the road less traveled. Do not tie yourself down with the expectations and obligations of others. This is your life and it is your choice how to live it. The people who care about you the most will always be there to support you and will help you cultivate and grow your passions. They will not discourage but encourage you to take risks. It is in these leaps of faith that we find the most valuable and rewarding lessons.

5. Balance your responsibilities and your passions. We all have responsibilities that we must live up to and honor. However we cannot let these be an excuse to not pursue and discover our passions. Not everyone lives a life where they are only responsible for themselves. Although it may be arduous, balancing responsibility and passion is very possible to do.

6. Talk to others. Whether it is a family member, friend, therapist, acquaintance or complete stranger, keeping our concerns and feelings bottled up inside will only lead to confusion and frustration. While in the end it is important to follow our own hearts it is also important to seek the advice of those around us experiencing the world simultaneously but in vastly different ways to ourselves. Every person's path, purpose and passion are unique and we can all learn from each others journeys.

7. Finally, and most importantly, follow your own gut, instincts and heart. Find time in your busy and chaotic day to relax and tune out all the noise of the external world and listen to yourself. We all know at a young age what we want, what we yearn for. However, after years of being told what we cannot do and being weighed down with responsibility, we reach adulthood and find that we have completely forgotten what our passions are. We are guided by what is right in front of us and what will satisfy our most immediate needs and provide security for ourselves and those who we protect. It is crucial that we search deep into our souls and listen to what they are telling us. It is there that you will discover your passion and the necessary paths to take in order to get there.