Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is Passion Overrated?

I just got back from conducting a happiness workshop in Tokyo. It was an intimate gathering and I think I learnt a lot more than I shared. The attendees were all masters in their chosen fields, coach, professor, general manager, entrepreneur, director and the likes. They were all from different countries and different backgrounds.

When I received the name cards, I wondered what I could say to such a diverse and august group that would have an impact and make them happier.

I had shared some esoteric concepts such as power of words and thought on the body and how rice reacts to different words (based on Emoto’s water crystal experiment)
For some people however the left logical brain did not seem to accept the truth in these experiments such as speaking to rice and speaking to plants and I completely understand as I was one of the skeptics who scoffed and laughed at the very idea of speaking to inanimate objects. I tried the rice experiment just for fun and for something to do with my daughter. When the same results showed up three different times, I had to believe in the power of words.

Is there any truth in it, or was it my expectation that brought forth the desired result? I don’t know . I do understand however why the rational brain refuses to accept esoteric concepts such as faith, God, power of belief and so on. But in my case I’d rather believe than disbelieve as I have personally witnessed the affects of a changed vocabulary and changed thought process.

The other question that came about was on the topic of Passion.

Does one need to be passionate to achieve a fulfilling and a happy life? Do we need passion in our lives or is it OK to be OK?

What really is Passion?

Dictionary definition of Passion is “a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling such as love or hate. Strong sexual desire. A strong or extravagant fondness, desire or enthusiasm for anything.”

Is passion overrated?

The opposite of passion is apathy or indifference. Would you rather go through life with indifference and apathy or with passion, excitement, concern and motivation?

I do agree that at times the word Passion is used out of context and we are made to feel incomplete and wasted if we don’t claim to have any passions. Through the thousands of interviews that I have conducted, the one thing that differentiates the players from the bystanders is passion. Having said that, I think everyone has some kind of passion or another. Passion does not necessarily have to be for a job, but it certainly helps if one can feel passionate about the job.

I just finished watching a TED talk by Mike Rowe – host of Dirty Jobs, where he talks about jobs involving castrating sheep and picking up road kill. Anyone in their right mind could not be passionate about castrating sheep, picking up road kill or driving a dump trucks interstate, but the job needs to be done and someone sure is doing it and they are rather happy doing it.

Do these people have to be passionate about the job? I doubt it. The job could just be a means to an end, but am sure they have passion for something or someone that motivates them to get out of bed and do the job.

Yes, at times we are made to feel incomplete and America especially Hollywood and various self help gurus have successfully added to our feeling of inadequacy by propounding Passion to be the Panacea for life’s banalities .

Do we need to be passionate about our work or is it OK to just do the job, get a pay check and go home to start all over again the next day? It is a subjective assessment, but finding something, anything to be passionate about in the chosen work makes work and life more interesting. According to Positive psychologists, people who try and find something to be passionate about in their work and feel that their work is making a difference in someone’s life are much happier than those coming to work just for a paycheck.

Money is a good enough motivator, but if we could find something in our jobs that makes us spring out of bed and look forward to the day, life would be much more fun.

There is always something that we can find in our daily work that although we may not be passionate about we can in some way relate to fulfilling a passion. Maybe if we were to focus on how our work helps us to support our lifestyle, how it helps to indulge in ones hobbies, how it helps one be a better provider, how it helps one come in contact with others and so on, I am sure we can find ways and reasons to become passionate about work.

Passion does not necessarily have to be about work, one can be passionate about art, music, dancing, cooking, children, clothes, shoes, money anything for that matter can become a passion. A fine line however needs to be drawn between passion and obsession. A healthy passion can very quickly turn into unhealthy obsession.

The debate at the workshop started when people claimed that one did not really need to have any passions or be passionate about what they did. It was OK to be Ok with ones work and life. One does not need to feel an overwhelming need to find a passion or risk a life unfulfilled.
I personally believe that each one of us has a passion; it does not necessarily have to be a life altering, world peace creating kind of passion, but within each of us is a tiny seed that needs to grow and come into its own. It may take a bit of inner work to really find and nurture that passion, and there is absolutely no harm in enjoying life as it is.

It’s just that when we change the way we view life, life actually changes. If we start to bring passion in everything we do, life becomes more meaningful and fulfilling.

Passion is the most contagious emotion and as Socrates said at his trial for heresy, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I would dare to say that a passion less life is not worth contemplating.