A person without passion has no more value than a candle without a flame or fire without light. By passion I mean zeal, enthusiasm, or fervor. It is the force that relentlessly drives one forward. Passion is a burning desire that creates commitment to a person, project, or life. A world without passion is a world without Mother Teresa, Mozart, or Michelangelo. Every great endeavor has been fueled by passion.
The opposite of passion is indifference. A society in which no one cares about their job or country is on the verge of collapse. Passion is the motor that propels us to our destination and the glue that binds our society together. However, not all passion is good. That's why Henri Frederic Amiel wrote, "The fire which enlightens is the same fire which consumes." Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson were passionate. Passionate, but grossly misguided. Instead of reaching for the stars, they dove into the depths of hell.
To be of value, passion must be illuminated by knowledge. Before giving our heart, we must make sure the object of our passion is ennobling, not destructive. Those on a spiritual quest should exercise great caution before joining any new group. Examine the claims and research the background of the group before getting excited. Otherwise, you could wind up becoming a cult member.
Also, passion is not to be confused with obsession. When we are obsessed, we are controlled by cravings. We become slaves to addictions and compulsions. The only progress we make is downward. Once we are in a tailspin, it's hard to recover by ourselves. So, if we find ourselves in such a predicament, we need to find outside help. Passion, on the other hand, is a conscious decision. We choose to devote ourselves to a worthwhile cause, such as our family, career, or charity.
Passion has magical power. It can bring the nonexistent into existence. For example, Walt Disney's passion helped him overcome severe setbacks, a nervous breakdown, and the discouragement of staff, peers, and friends. Acting against the advice of all, he transformed his dream of Disneyland into reality. Another magical quality of passion is its ability to lighten our load. With the wave of a wand, work becomes fun! Tedious effort becomes exciting! Passion is also power, for as Margaret Mead wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
You will also find that doors that are locked for ordinary folks suddenly open for those with passion. How can one resist their enthusiasm? Even if the doors remained shut, the fire of their passion would burn them down! The passionate have big dreams and big dreams come with big problems. But who cares? Those with passion are focused on their goals, not themselves. They are wrapped up in their dreams, not their worries. They don't have the time or inclination for self-pity. When things go wrong, they learn from their mistakes and quickly continue on their way.
Consider for a moment, what are the alternatives to a life of passion? Would you rather go to work with a frown, instead of a smile? Would you rather lead an empty life or one filled with purpose? Would you rather delight in or dread the beginning of a new day? Would you rather be a survivor or a success? Whenever it is a matter of ability or passion, passion is always the victor in the battle for success.
Spike Lee offers this advice, "It is really important that young people find something that they want to do and pursue it with passion. I'm very passionate about filmmaking. It's what I love to do." The American Industrialist, Charles M. Schwab, had this to add, "The person who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor to find much fun in life."
What if we recognize the importance of passion but somehow lack it? What can we do to nurture it? Well, recognizing its importance is the first step. Other steps you can take follow.
1. Take responsibility. The only bad hand you have been dealt in life was dealt by you. From today, "Don't do things half-assed," says Hugh Young, "If a thing is worth doing at all, it's worth doing as well as you can possibly do it. Pick out something you think is worthwhile and do it or work at it with passion. Do it with all your might."
2. You find what you look for. Instead of looking for the bad in your job or situation, look for the good. Look for the opportunities. Search for the solutions. Look for the way.
3. Make a plan. Once you've found some opportunities and solutions, make a plan of action. What should you avoid doing and what should you start doing now?
4. Make a decision. Now that you have a plan, decide to act on it. Set deadlines and start following your new road map to success. Enjoy the ride.
5. Stoke the fire of passion. To keep passion's fire burning brightly, review the day's events in the evening. Monitor your progress. Relish your achievements and learn from your mistakes.
6. Don't douse the flames. You want to ignite your life with passion, but be careful of burnout. Work hard, but schedule breaks, leisure, entertainment, and family time. Don't forget to reward yourself occasionally.
7. Recharge your batteries. Make time for the gym, sports, long walks, or meditation to relieve stress, refresh you spirit, and renew your energy.
8. "Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." (Henry Miller)
9. Take brief "awareness breaks" throughout the day to remind yourself of the joy of being alive.
10. Avoid negative people and associate with enthusiastic people.
11. Share your zest for life with others. Brighten up their day. Their warm response will reinforce your passion.
12. Take "vitamins for the mind." That is read or listen to motivational material to keep the flames burning.
© Chuck Gallozzi
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