Discovering and claiming our passion is about knowing what we love doing. Knowing this can have a powerful effect on our lives. If what we are doing does not make us happy, then it might be time to evaluate and recalibrate what would elicit the most joy.
Some people know from an early age what they want to do when they grow up, while others might flounder trying to find their calling. There are different terms to explain the idea of our calling in life. The Romans called it genius, the Greeks called it the daimon, and the Christians call it the guardian angel. Psychologist James Hillman used even more words to describe one’s sense of calling, such as fate, character, image, soul, and destiny, depending upon the context. Hillman also coined the term following your bliss, which is another way of saying that you should follow the path that brings you joy in order to get the most out of life.
My calling or passion for writing began in the 1960s when my mother handed me a Kahlil Gibran journal. Receiving that journal was a pivotal moment for me, as I realized that when I was writing, my heart was singing. That’s how I knew that writing was a career path for me.
Many people who sign up for my writing classes are in some sort of life transition or are at a crossroad where they’re unsure what they want to do with themselves. One of the first prompts I give participants is to write about an important memory from their childhoods. Most often they write about a life-changing event. The second prompt is to write about what brought them joy as a child.
Sometimes, but not always, this sense of joy is connected to what might bring them happiness as an adult. Perhaps a lived experience from childhood served as a springboard for their life passion, profession, or theme. Certainly, this was the case for me.
As a child, I was inspired to read and write. Children’s passions are often reinforced by the adults in their world, and at school and home, I received accolades for my writing. This encouraged me to write even more. Sometimes it’s a good idea to look back upon our childhoods, and think about those areas where we received praise and encouragement, and determine if that’s where our happiness may lie.
When I sit down to write, there are higher forces that speak to me, and sometimes while writing, I enter a trance — I transcend universes where the deepest of creative forces are at play. When I studied psychology in graduate school, I learned that those who are deeply passionate about something have an urgent need to make a change in the world or to serve humanity. They are possessed by their passion. Mine was teaching others through writing.
Doing what we were meant to do with our lives, can lead to a sense of bliss, which may be about ridding ourselves of habits, situations, and relationships that no longer serve us, and replacing them with those that do. Finding our calling is about bringing into our lives all those things that bring out our potential and help us live life to the fullest.
Once we open our eyes and are aware of what brings us joy, the universe will send opportunities our way. As my own experience shows, following one’s bliss usually involves connecting to one’s life theme. It is also a key component in achieving a sense of well-being. Bernie Siegel, in his book Love, Medicine, and Miracles (1986), said that if people manage their anger and despair and are happy in general, they typically do not get sick. He said, “One’s attitude toward oneself is the single most important factor in healing and staying well. Those who are at peace with themselves and their immediate surroundings have far fewer serious illnesses than those who are not” (p. 76).
Here are some ways to discover our passion and
what makes our heart sing:
- Think about what our natural talents are, or what we love to do.
- Surround ourselves with like-minded individuals or those ideas or passions resonate with us.
- Be mindful about what annoys us and what makes us happy.
- Think about an activity where we lose track of time. Chances are it’s connected with a passion.
- Maintain a clear and open emotional state by engaging in self-care, through meditation, exercise, spending time in nature, and setting intentions.
- Think about favorite movies and the common thread that runs through each. This might be connect to life passion.
- Ask close friends to describe or tell us, “What would be our one thing?”
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