Many people spend a significant part of their lives trying to “find” their passion.  Some will “pursue” their passion.  I encourage you to explore it.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela

America’s Founding Fathers thought of the pursuit of happiness as a way of life that everyone should enjoy.  They defined this happiness as the internal result of an external contribution to society — far from the self-gratuitous definition many think of today.  How do you define happiness?

For me, I find myself most impassioned when I’m involved in design activities, musical performance, public service opportunities and church ministry.  The tools that I use in these places include musical instruments, computers, graphic design, and a mixture of entertainment and teaching.  I find that when I’m not doing these things, I end up simply “existing” rather than “thriving.”

Let’s switch gears just for a moment and compare our passions with our “work.”  You can think of your work as your 8-5 job, or you can think of it as your external contribution to society.  In many cases, you could argue that these are the same.  No matter how you define your work, are you able to work while pursuing your passions?  Are you pursuing your passions at work?  Is it even possible to do these two things?  You don’t really know until you explore.

Much like the Nike slogan “Just do it” — you have to take some level of risk to explore things that you don’t currently do.  You may have to give up a stable corporate environment. You may have to give up that last raise and learn to live on a smaller budget.  You may have to move out of your parent’s house.  You may have to leave town.  You may have to find some new friends.  Many of these things may seems like a bad idea to one person or another.  Some may seem like a bad idea to you.  So you’ll have a decision to make — do I want to maintain the status quo, or do I want to be passionate?  Each of these ideas above can be very positive things, because they help you grow.  Sometimes you grow by realizing that you can do your own thing, that you can make your own choices.  Sometimes you learn by trial and error, and sometimes the lessons are tough.  You have to be tough to really explore your passion.  You have to learn how to get to that dream of yours and how to build bridges and open gates to get where you want to be.

Where do you find your happiness?  Does your daily or weekly routine include some time for external contributions to society? Do you get a personal bump from helping others, serving others or being a steady friend to others?  Sure, have some “me time,” but remember that in the equation for true joy, others come before yourself.

Today, I’ve regained a bit of my smile by simply posting a new conversation to this blog.  I took a moment to think about who and what I love in life, and what I can do to serve them better.  I get the most out of my passion when I explore it, rather than just pursuing it.  Imagine how a spelunker would feel if all the work he put into suiting up and locating a cave resulted in him simply finding the cave — but he never went in.  Why not go inside and find all the little nooks and crannies, every snake hole, bat habitat and fresh spring.  Take it all in.

The next step for me is to evaluate how I spend my time each day and measure it against the standard I’ve set in this article.  It’s time for rubber to meet the road.  Which reminds me — one of my passions is helping bicyclists stay rubber-side-down during cycling events by providing communications support and helping to maintain a safe course for them to ride on.  It’s winter now, but Spring is coming, then Summer.  My work today pays for time off in the Spring and Summer to enjoy and explore my passion.

Go have an adventure.  Explore your passion.


Photo credit: Custom Piano Desk by Backstage Design Studio in Austin, TX. (It’s in the background here.)