When I was in elementary school my parents told me it didn’t matter what I did when I grew up, so long as it made me happy. “Happiness is the whole point of life”, my father said. “But it doesn’t always come easy. Your mother loves to help people in need, so she became a psychiatric nurse. I love reading, writing and poetry, so I became an English teacher. We both find happiness in the hard work we do each day.”
A few years later when I was in junior high, my sixth-grade homeroom teacher put me in detention for “being difficult.” She went around the classroom and asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. When she got to me, I told her I wanted to be happy. She told me I was missing the whole point of the question. I told her she was missing the whole point of life.
Perhaps my pre-adolescent, smart-aleck response deserved the repercussions. Perhaps my young mind was oversimplifying some necessary complexities. Lesson learned I suppose. But, I’ve still never forgotten the significance of my dad’s wisdom—especially his point about finding happiness in hard work.
Fast forward to today, and Angel and I have spent well over a decade working one-on-one with hundreds of coaching clients, course students, and live event attendees who struggle with variations of that very point—finding happiness when life demands we work hard for it. As human beings, we somehow get used to the fantasy that life should be easier than it is. Regardless of what we choose to do “when we grow up,” we subconsciously expect our chosen path to have very few detours, interruptions, and inconveniences. And oftentimes we wait around for those detours, interruptions, and inconveniences to take care of themselves.
A good case in point: I was picking up a few items at a small CVS store this morning when an elderly man with a guide dog came in. He walked to the aisle with the greetings cards, picked up a card, held it up extremely close to his face, and desperately squinted his eyes to read it. A couple other shoppers glanced at his squinting expression as they passed but didn’t stop to help him. Just as I began to walk over, a big burly guy in a Harley Davidson jacket walked up and asked him if he needed assistance reading, and then proceeded to read him about a dozen different greeting cards out loud until the elderly man smiled and said, “That’s perfect! My wife will love that one!”
As the elderly man checked out at the register, I walked up to the big burly guy and said, “I admire your kindness.”
“Thank you, sir,” he replied with a smile. “Lately, I’ve just been letting my soul guide me. I’m actually in a bit of a hurry right now, so it would have been much easier to let that man struggle, or let someone else help him, but my soul knows the easy things in life aren’t always the right things.”
Boom! Such sage wisdom.
So, with the collective sentiments of my father and that kind stranger in mind, I want to remind you that…
You need to do hard things to be happy in life.
You need to do the things most people avoid, such as those that make you uncomfortable, that are far easier to run from, that others won’t do for you, that make you second-guess yourself and question how you’re going to find the time and energy to push forward.
Because the hard things ultimately build you up and change your life. They make the difference between existing and living, between knowing the path and walking it, between a lifetime of empty promises and one filled with progress, value and fulfillment.
Consistent passionate action!
Learn to believe in your heart that you’re meant to live each moment full of passion and purpose—that each and every moment is worthy in its own way. Consider this excerpt from our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs:
Passion is not something you find in life; it’s something you do. When you want to find the passion and inner strength needed to change your situation, you have to force yourself to step forward.
Many of us are still hopelessly trying to “find our passion”—something we believe will ultimately lead us closer to happiness, success, or the life situation we ultimately want. And we say “hopelessly” primarily because passion can’t really be found. When we say we’re trying to find our passion, it implies that our passion is somehow hiding behind a tree or under a rock somewhere. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is, our passion comes from doing things right. If you’re waiting to somehow “find your passion” somewhere outside yourself, so you finally have a reason to put your whole heart and soul into your life and the changes you need to make, you’ll likely be waiting around for an eternity.
On the other hand, if you’re tired of waiting, and you’d rather live more passionately starting today and experience small positive changes, it’s time to proactively inject passion into the very next thing you do. Think about it:
- When was the last time you sat down and had a conversation with someone nearby, with zero distractions and 100 percent focus?
- When was the last time you exercised and put every bit of effort you could muster into it?
- When was the last time you truly tried—truly tried—to do your very best?
Like most of us, you’re likely putting a halfhearted effort into most of the things you do on a daily basis. Because you’re still waiting. You’re still waiting to “find” something to be passionate about—some magical reason to step into the life you want to create for yourself. But you need to do the exact opposite!
Put your whole heart and soul into life!
Do the hard and necessary things, right NOW, with your whole heart and soul fully invested!
When I was a kid, my grandmother used to tell me, “Stop waiting for better opportunities. The one you have in front of you is the best opportunity.” She also said, “Too often we spend too much time making it perfect in our heads before we ever even do it. Stop waiting for perfection and just do your best with what you have today, and then improve it tomorrow.”
Believe it or not, recent psychological research indirectly reinforces my grandmother’s sentiments. For many years, psychologists believed our minds could directly affect our physical state of being, but never the other way around. Nowadays, however, it is widely documented that our bodies—for example, our momentary facial expressions and body posture—can directly affect our mental state of being too. So while it’s true that we change from the inside out, we also change from the outside in. And you can make this reality work for you. If you want more passion and happiness in your life right now, act accordingly right now.
Put your heart and soul into something!
Not into tomorrow’s opportunities, but into the opportunity right in front of you.
Not into tomorrow’s tasks, but into today’s tasks.
Not into tomorrow’s run, but into today’s run.
Not into tomorrow’s relationships, but into today’s relationships.
Angel and I are certain you have plenty in your life right now that’s worth your time and energy. You have people and circumstances in your life that need you as much as you need them. You have a massive reservoir of potential passion within you, just waiting.
If you wait for “the right time”—if you wait until you feel 100% ready—you will be waiting the rest of your life. Seriously, too many people wait too long to live their best lives. They wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for passion and happiness. Don’t be one of them!
You don’t need to have it all figured out to take the next step. But you do need to take the next step to figure it out. And as you struggle forward, remember, it is far better to be exhausted from lots of passionate effort and learning, than to be tired of waiting around doing absolutely nothing.
Now, it’s your turn…
Just put your heart and soul into what you’ve got right in front of you. Your long-lost passion will gradually show up to greet you. And your inner wellness will start to change for the better. Guaranteed!
And if you’re up to it, we’d love know:
- What’s the next thing worth investing your whole heart and soul into? What’s on your plate right now that you could be passionate about, if you really wanted to be?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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