I was asked by the Observer newspaper in the UK to contribute a 280 word piece on passion to the regular series on Life Lessons. Here it is:
Make the most of whatever it is that floats your boat…
It was Jeremy Bentham, I believe, who said there are two types of people in this world: those who divide the world into two types and those who do not. Well, these days I do. On the one hand, I’m constantly surprised by how many people settle for so little fulfilment in their lives, who endure their lives rather than enjoy them. On the other, I know people who simply love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “This isn’t what I do,” they say, “this is who I am.” There are people in every walk of life for whom this is true: people who are in their element. Being in your element involves doing something for which you have a natural aptitude. But it’s more than that: it’s about passion. You have to love it, too.
Passion can be a disconcerting idea in Britain, conjuring up images of fiery glances, pounding hearts and a hint of castanets. It’s not always like that. Passion is a deep attraction. It can be for someone else or for a process: music, maths, cooking, sport, entrepreneurship, teaching… whatever fires your imagination and stokes your energy. We all have different aptitudes and we have unique passions. The challenge is to find them because it’s in the fusion of both that we live our best lives.
An original meaning of “passion” is to suffer or endure, as in the Passion of Christ. Its modern meanings have evolved to include love, attraction and pleasure. Finding our own element is also a journey from endurance to enjoyment. It’s a vital step, too, in moving from being one type of person to being the other type.