A piece of advice we often hear when it comes to being successful and feeling a sense of fulfillment in life is to "follow our passion." But before you can follow your passion, you have to find it. So where do you look for it? How do you really discover what you are deeply passionate about?
You may have sought out clues to your passion in things like personality inventories, self-help books or career assessment tests. Or perhaps you are considering your hobbies or looking back to things you enjoyed as a kid to gather some clues about what you love. And although those places may offer you great insight into your passion, today I am encouraging you to look for your passion somewhere else: in your suffering.
What do I mean by this?
Well the original definition of the word PASSION is actually SUFFERING (referring to the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death). Over time, we have evolved the word passion to mean: "love; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept."
So the word passion means two things: suffering and love. There is key information in this.
Most of the people I know who are truly doing something they are incredibly passionate about were inspired by their own suffering. Myself included! I built a successful career in Hollywood because I thought I was passionate about the entertainment industry. But the truth was I was only trying to make it in Hollywood to compensate for insecurities I'd been carrying around since fourth grade. When I was able to see the incredible lessons I learned and how all of my perceived suffering was a blessing, I naturally became passionate about sharing what I learned with others.
I encourage you to put away the personality tests, books, and advice from others for a moment and examine your own life to discover the key to your passion. Your passion is within you. It is not something you need to seek out.
Spend some time looking at how you have experienced suffering in your life. What have been the challenges? What has been difficult for you? Are there certain patterns or trends you notice? Are there themes or threads like feeling abandoned, unworthy, or isolated?
After you have investigated your experience of suffering, answer these questions:
- What has been the overall theme of experiences and/or feelings where you have experienced suffering?
- What did you learn from these experiences? What were they teaching you?
- What insights have you gathered from your suffering when you look at it from an empowered (rather than victim) perspective -- meaning without judgment or thinking any of it was wrong?
- What actions (inner and outer) have you taken to heal your suffering and move into compassion and forgiveness?
- If you could talk to your younger self who went through the suffering, what message would you have for him or her?
Your suffering is full of clues in terms of what you are here to learn and what you are here to SHARE. All of us come in with a message. We are all here to share, inspire and teach, but before we do that we have to be a students of our own lives.
Just like we've evolved the word passion from suffering to love, see how you can evolve and awaken that passion inside of you by reframing suffering. When you truly understand that EVERYTHING that has happened in your life has been for your highest good, you will naturally be called to serve rather than experience any suffering. And we serve through sharing our lessons and blessings. This service does not necessarily need to translate to a career. As we evolve from suffering to love, we naturally feel more passionate about everything in our life no matter what our job may be. We see that true passion is love. Loving who we are, loving what we do, loving each other and sharing love wherever we go.
Have deep reverence for all the suffering you have endured in life. It has all been in service to you learning the unique lessons and insights you are here to express. Love it ALL and I assure you that you will find and uncover your passion.