Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  -Howard Thurman

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.

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.

Go have an adventure.  Explore your passion. Come alive!

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-makes-you-come-alive-kenneth-baucum/

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