Once upon a time, there was a girl who could do anything in the world she wanted. All she had to do was choose something and focus. So one day she sat down in front of a blank canvas and began to paint. Every stroke was more perfect than the next, slowly and gracefully converging to build a flawless masterpiece. And when she eventually finished painting, she stared proudly at her work and smiled.
It was obvious to the clouds and the stars, who were always watching over her, that she had a gift. She was an artist. And she knew it too. She felt it in every fiber of her being. But a few moments after she finished painting, she got anxious and quickly stood up. Because she realized that while she had the ability to do anything in the world she wanted to do, she was simply spending her time moving paint around on a piece of canvas.
She felt like there was so much more in the world to see and do – so many options. And if she ultimately decided to do something else with her life, then all the time she spent painting would be a waste. So she glanced at her masterpiece one last time, and walked out the door into the moonlight. And as she walked, she thought, and then she walked some more.
While she was walking, she didn’t notice the clouds and the stars in the sky who were trying to signal her, because she was preoccupied with an important decision she had to make. She had to choose one thing to do out of all the possibilities in the world. Should she practice medicine? Or design buildings? Or teach children? She was utterly stumped.
Twenty-five years later, the girl began to cry. Because she realized she had been walking for so long, and that over the years she had become so enamored by everything that she could do – the endless array of possibilities – that she hadn’t done anything meaningful at all. And she learned, at last, that life isn’t about possibility – anything is possible. Life is about making a decision – deciding to do something that moves you.
So the girl, who was no longer a girl, purchased some canvas and paint from a local craft store, drove to a nearby park, and began to paint. One stroke gracefully led into the next just as it had so many moons ago. And as she smiled, she continued painting through the day and into the night. Because she had finally made a decision. And there was still some time left to revel in the magic that life is all about.
But, but (there’s always a “but”)…
There’s more to life than just following your passion, right?
Absolutely. For instance, not all passions earn an income, at least not in the near-term. And most of us have families to care for, mouths to feed, and bills to pay. So yes, there needs to be more than just passion.
But there ALSO needs to be some passion too!
The key is to realize it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
The short story above isn’t about following your passion into a hole of debt, it’s about NOT pushing your passion off into an abyss of unhappiness.
When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy and excitement – something that truly matters to you – care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life, even if you can only spare a little time on the side. And if you find that you don’t have any time at all for what matters to you, stop doing things that don’t… like watching another Netflix program or getting lost stalking people on social media.
Be intentional about how you spend your time.
In the end, purpose is the reason you journey, and passion is the fire that lights your way. Without inner passion, it’s nearly impossible to progress in life. The heart of human excellence begins to beat when you discover a pursuit, big or small, that occupies your heart and soul.
So remember, if there was ever a day to follow your heart and do something small that matters to you, that day is today.
Here are some little things worth remembering:
- A big part of your life is a result of the choices you make. And if you don’t like your life – if it completely lacks excitement and passion – it’s time to start making changes and better choices.
- Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. You CAN follow a path that moves you. You are always free to do something small and positive that makes you happy. (Angel and I build small, positive daily rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- There is good reason why you should wake each morning and mindfully consider what and who you will give your day to. Because unlike other things in life – money, entertainment, obligations, etc. – time is the one thing you can never get back once it’s gone.
- It’s not what you say, but how you spend your time. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
- Your passion is an inherent part of you. Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. Nothing you have that much passion for is ever a waste of time, no matter how it turns out in the long run.
- When you focus your heart and mind upon a meaningful purpose, and commit yourself to fulfill that purpose a little bit every day, positive energy gradually floods into your life.
- We have to stop telling ourselves that other people are our reason for being unhappy, unfulfilled, etc. They aren’t in the long run.
- The more we fill our lives with genuine passion and purpose the less time and energy we’ll waste looking for approval and admiration from everyone else.
- Your body may eventually grow tired, you may lie awake some nights listening to your past regrets, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you overcome by negativity, or know your respect has been trampled on by unfriendly faces. There is only one thing for healing that works every time – to rediscover what excites you and then dive deeper into it. That’s the only positive effort that a battered mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or doubt, and never dream of regretting. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion & Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Just one small step today. That’s all. True purpose has no time limit. True passion has no deadline. Don’t stress and overwhelm yourself. Just do what you can right now – just the next smallest step on a meaningful path.
Afterthoughts on “Finding Passion” Within
Passion truly is the secret ingredient that has kept me going through some of the most painful times of my life. Because at some point, especially when the going gets tough, you have to wonder what you’re doing and why. Over the years, I’ve questioned myself and given myself a thousand little reasons to keep working on www.marcandangel.com. And it always comes back to my willingness to passionately invest energy in the exploration of life’s challenges.
What distinguishes many of us who are actively pursuing passion, from those of us on the couch, is that some of us have learned the hard way – perhaps through a severe loss or crisis – that life is short, and that we must capitalize on the priceless opportunities each day gives us, on the raw potential our minds and bodies are capable of, and on every ounce of willpower we can muster to make our journeys worthwhile.
And if you don’t have a specific passion that’s immediately enticing to you, that’s OK. You can still tap into the passion inside you today. You can still 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!
Of course, we can’t do it all and we can’t have it all. Sometimes we have to say no to good things to be able to say yes to the most important things. Sometimes we have to take little risks with our time and energy. But in life, if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.
So go ahead and take a little risk today.
Feel some passion.
And revel in the magic that life is all about.
If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from YOU.
Which point mentioned above resonates with you the most today, and why?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Melissa Bells says
The story and the whole message in this post cut straight to the core of how I’ve felt for far too long. I actually enrolled your Getting to Back Happiness course to help myself rediscover the magic that I had indeed lost long ago, and it’s already starting to work. I’ve used the daily rituals and triggers strategy you cover in the goals section of the course and started a small daily ritual of playing piano for 15 minutes a day. Playing music makes me happy, and it used to be my life, but somehow I had lost track of this passion and piece of me in all the busyness of life and work. But now I’m gradually building it back into my life, and it feels more amazing than I can describe in a few words. Thank you!
Miss Mary says
Your post gives me confirmation to respond to my inner urging to go back to practicing the piano. Which was something I’ve tried to do since I was a child, but never truly learned.
Such a lovely story, Marc. It reminds me of the great bite-sized stories you and Angel weave throughout your 1000 things book.
Above all in this post though, I really like the way you phrased #10…”purpose and passion have no expiration day.” This is such great reminder to me. It’s never too late to enjoy the little things that bring me joy. 🙂
Samuel Nati says
I just want to say thank you for writing this. It is really helpful for me especially when I feel lost. I’m a young entrepreneur, about to turn 20. Currently I own a clothing line and soon shifting into outdoor/sportswear. Been doing this about a year, not long. But during these times, there were some really tough times where I just lost all drive, motivation, purpose. But then time and time again, passion made me realise the purpose of all this. And gave me motivation to keep on going.
Alison Leggatt says
This story resonates with the path I am on now. I have been so busy doing that I have forgotten being, and lost those very things I am passionate about. However! I am regaining that passion, those things I held so dear to me. I have taken myself on a journey to my childhood to rekindle the joy of being utterly lost in an activity. For me that is making, crafts, miniatures…anything that took my fancy really. And who knows…maybe one day I will make a living from the things I was passionate about.
Thank you for sharing this… change starts with you and the point you made about making better choices resonates with me. Choosing how you ‘spend your time’ or what you give your time to is really important for me.
What a great post, and it particularly resonated with me at this time. I am currently a partner in big consulting firm and have invested years of my life focused on chasing this goal. Now in my mid-forties, I realise I cannot stand this career choice and the lack of freedom it provides, I have left behind many of my passions and interests, given up most of my free time, and allowed my work to affect my mental and spiritual health. I have more income than I need, and I feel that my entire identify as a neighbour, husband, father and friend is based upon my career. I am not even sure what I like to do anymore, and the thought of moving out of this career is both incredibly exciting and extremely scary. I also feel it is selfish to think about given up this career and income to focus on some unknown passions while my kids are heading off to university in a few years. Anyone here have thoughts on what others have done to find their passion and to make the brave choices I do not think I can make?
While it may not be practical to chuck your successful business right now, how about pursuing your passion as a hobby? No time? Teach yourself to say no to things that are not essential to you relationships, your work or your home life. Can you delegate more? Can you let go of some stuff that is not serving you or your family? Baby steps my friend, baby steps. Just take those baby steps each day. Good luck. Namaste.
Thank you Layla. Great advice and I started this approach today. Still seems a little overwhelming.
I am that girl, now woman. I have refrained from committing myself to anything except my family, and in spite of obvious talent in a particular field have accomplished very little over the 40 years of my adult life. I have been exactly like the girl, unable to choose from amongst all the possibilitie where to spend my time and energy. Now, I am having to deal with the heartbreak of realizing how much time has been spent not being spent in fulfilling, joy filled activities and productivity. I have recently been diagnosed with ADD, so perhaps there is an explanation for some of my indecision, as well as hope, now that I have knowledge of something specific that can be addressed, that I will spend the last quarter of my life choosing, on a daily basis, to stay focused, in addition to loving others, on the one thing, out of the many that do, that most puts me in the flow.
Thank you for sharing this story and your thoughts on this essential element of living a life that is true to who you are. You guys are the best!
This article was a great reminder, that life is too short and how we spend our time is how we spend our life. This resonated with me because I recently made a decision to change to less demanding job to create more space in my life. I’m struggling with fear and second guessing myself but just remind myself to have faith. I needed to create more space to allow for passion and fun in my life, I felt there was no time to breathe. Thanks for this, and wish me luck.
This is just what I needed today. Your thoughts here, on making the time for my purpose and passion and taking a risk, is exactly what I was discussing with my husband just last night. I’m taking it as a sign that I should begin today 🙂 Thank you!
Mark Phelan says
Steve Pavlina wrote this over 15 years ago. I’ve kept it and refer to it often (and figured others may find value in it):
HOW TO FIND YOU TRUE PURPOSE IN LESS THAN 20 MINUTES:
Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type
Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.
What if you don’t know what your true purpose in life is? I have spent most of my life taking care of others and now I want to take care of me but where do I begin? I know what I want first but it’s not in my control to make happen because it’s not something that I have control over. It’s in someone else’s control. In the past, I have tried different occupations that I thought that I would like but it turned out otherwise. How do you find your passion without stumbling?
Thank you! I really, really need it, the more I read the more I am excited. Through reading your e-mails and books, I am getting courage to discover my problems in my daily life and decided (already started to change little by little, i.e., simply I started to wash my dishes; make some time to go out for taking some fresh air) make changes. You are doing a wonderful job, because your energy is paid off, your work is calling the people like me for waking up and spend our time for some meaningful things, at least for ourselves! On the behalf of people who is benefiting your work, I would like to express my great appreciation, you are actually rescuing the people’s soul! I wish all the best for you two!
Cindy Pierce says
Thank you for this timely message today. I think one of the best points made is that while most of us must work at jobs that may not fuel our passion, we can still follow our path outside that work (hobbies) or find an aspect within that work that focuses on our purpose. Thank you, again.
Kathy Taylor says
“Finding your passion and doing a little each day” led me out of a stagnant career, to becoming a teacher. At age 50, I asked myself if this was all there was. The death of a colleague stopped me in my tracks. My children we’re grown, it was time to focus on my passion- teaching! I went back to add on the teaching credentials to my degree, and in two short years, I had done it! Life is indeed short. Do what you love & feel your soul ‘s happiness. I feel myself happier & I smile more. Work has to provide some sense of fulfillment, it is how we spend 2/3 of our lives! “Do what makes your soul happy! “
I lost my passion for anything mainly due to exhaustion. I worked very long hours during my last 10 years of employment. One day I discovered I did not need to work any longer and retired early. Afterwards, it was as if the whole world opened up for me. I now have so many passions life is great every day. I am socializing more, riding my bike, taking walks, reading and taking time to notice little things that bring a smile to my face. I also found that I really enjoy my home more than ever. Now that it is not just a place I come to sleep and change clothes, I appreciate it as much as I did when I first bought it. Being excited about life again has made me feel younger and more alive!
Lisa N. says
Wow! I opened up my email and started reading this and it felt like you wrote this specifically for me. Since my husband’s death two and a half years ago I have felt completely numb, very little brings me joy. I fill my days by focusing on my two young children and filling the rest of the time with the busy-ness of life. Lately I’ve thought that if I could just find that one thing that brings me joy–my true passion–all would be well in my world. And though that idea excites me there is another voice that tells me well “you don’t have time for that” and “this passion needs to be something you can earn a living at”, and then I stop and resume my old ways.
But now, a shimmer of hope appears. First, I have no idea what my passion is. But after reading this email this morning, I sat down with my morning coffee and wrote a list of all the things that I have done, or have thought about doing, that ignite a spark in my soul. I am giddy at the prospect of where this list may take me. Second, I seem to have lost sight of the fact that my passion and how I pay my bills may not always be one and the same. If they are then I am doubly blessed.
So thank you Marc and Angel for this post, your books and your classes and for following your passion and sharing it with the world. You have touched my life and for that I am grateful.
My husband is in a nursing home and spend most of my time going to
See him and at home. T.V. is a big part of my life. After reading your post I am going to get out more and
and enjoy the things in life more. Life IS too short!
As I am reading this story/article I am taking a small risk. Something as simple as being in the public library reading my emails may not be much to some people but it represents me finally leaving my home today after a very, very depressive 6 months. I’m over 60 and retired as well as retired from the military. No children or husband and a lot of regrets. Today represents a tiny step to rejoin the outside world.
Keep taking those little steps. They will add up, as difficult as they may be. I’m an over 60 retiree who also struggles with depression.
That’s a great first step. Trust me, the public library is an excellent place to start! If they have some good programs, like crafts or book discussions, you might meet some other people who are sort of lonely. Library are comfort. Best of luck to you!
Leah M Wilson says
This post is exactly what I needed! Sometimes, I get bored easily and lose the passion and drive that I have for life. But this story made me have a little faith again. Thanks Marc and Angel. 🙂
Right now my mind in that battleground that you often speak of. I find myself allowing self-defeating thoughts and a negative voice to rob me of my peace of mind and passion. Then I read how I should never give up on something that I can’t go a day without thinking about and I realize I need to spot the battles. Nothing I have this much passion for is ever a waste of time, no matter how it turns out in the long-term. I must find a way to stop giving power to those negative thoughts and believe in the passion I have. It will be as it is meant to be.
Miss Mary says
Barbara, you’re absolutely right. I agree. This is something I struggle with too, but I’m making progress now. You do have to stop allowing self-defeating and negative thoughts steal your treasures. Do so by confronting those bullies! Fight back with positive thoughts and affirmations. Also, think about past accomplishments and know that you have what it takes to manifest your passions!
Thanks, Miss Mary. You are right I know I have what it takes and I will just have to keep the positive thoughts alive.
Sheryll hagar says
This is exactly where I am in my life…. I’ve finally found my passion…. And I feel so good about it
May everyone take your words seriously and take a step towards a more passionate life today! I have allowed so many years to pass… I’m 66 and retired….never embracing my creative side because my husband thinks it’s ‘fluff’. I am sad and unfulfilled. It IS too late for me.
It’s NEVER too late!!! Just start with baby steps. A little here and a little there. As long as you have breath, it’s not over!!! I believe you can do it!!!
This one nailed it for me:
“It’s not what you say, but how you spend your time. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
A simple truth with a HUGE impact. What we put into our lives matters – and how we feel about it tells us how we do it. Thanks for enlightening my thoughts, Marc and Angel. Stay blest.
This is so enlightening and speaks to my soul this morning
It’s amazing that I read that today!!! I started taking vocal lessons again, at 59 year young but I’m thinking it’s too late!! I always liked singing and still do! When I was 18 my vocal coach in New York wanted to send me out on auditions and I went to hair dressing school instead. So every time I would sing with Liza Minnelli or anyone else I would cry and my kids always said why are you crying and I believe it’s because that’s what I wanted to do. So here I am years later taking vocal lessons for the past three weeks and I’m questioning it again !!! I start thinking why am I doing this but I don’t want to do that but I’m having a hard time. I keep thinking I wish I was younger doing this… but I’m trying my best and it’s making me feel a little better than before.
Yes. This: Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. SCREAMING AT ME TO WAKE UP… what a beautiful piece. Namasté.
Wow!! Excellent post on passion! I truly love and seek passion! I suffer from chronic depressive disorder and PTSD, OCD (minor) and borderline personality disorder. Finding passion in the midst of this is challenging. I find ‘good things’ daily and sometimes make a list. My passions are photography, writing, dogs, nature hikes and design. Sometimes, I can touch on all of these in one week. If I can touch on one of these a day, it helps tremendously. I live in Colorado and it is supremely beautiful but I get bored and burnt out sometimes. This essay is an inspiration to me today though, and I thank you. Little steps.
Tip #4 resonates the most with me when you noted, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” My stress is non-stop these days, and I still have to be productive while battling depression and escalating family problems. But small reminders help me forward on a daily basis, and your site, emails, and books always provide that dose I need. Thank you.
Martha Grow says
Your writing is so full of priceless gems. You must be very old souls. I am a calligrapher and look for inspirational words to pen. You provide so many well worded truths that I could chose from. Thank you for your wisdom and more importantly for sharing.
This article is so appropriate for me. I have always focused on accentuating the positive…that I need to recharge my batteries. I have been so busy focusing and helping others that I forgot to just for a moment…think of me. I needed that breath of fresh air and this article.
I had the biggest wake up call in life!!! Had and accident at home and unable to walk found myself completely lost, made me realised that I waisted too much time on Netflix all the things I should have done differently, reading today’s post just confirms I can choose better !! Need to risk something so I don’t loose everything
My problem right now is I am in a dark place. I am finding no joy in anything. I used to think I was an artist, but now I look at my life and all I see is a fraud. I have never been diagnosed with depression, but it is pretty apparent at this point in time. I am currently unemployed, which only adds to the angst I am feeling. I do appreciate your words and emails, but am not sure it’s enough to pull me out of this funk.
Oh… my.. wow. That artist, in the narrative, is unequivocally me. What an insightful reminder to not fear taking my place in this amazing universe. I needed to remember how often I act out of fear and thus neglect my passion. What a great read!
Nailed it, life no longer excites me. Most of mine is spent trying to distract myself from the chronic pain I live in due to MS on the daily. I’ve written to you all before about how it’s tougher for those of us with illness as the pain has changed my brain and how it works and it’s ability to stay focused on the good. It’s very hard to do most days, but I do it anyway. My passion was my career that is now no longer due to the Pandemic. I’ve had to make a switch. I’m on a very low income as I build a new biz with the limitations that I have it goes slowly. Slowly, but…surely. I definitely have had to learn that I cannot compete with others nor should I, steals your joy. I still fall victim to that feeling that sinks me into depression if I scroll social media at all and see people getting married, having kids, having major financial success, all the things I wanted and worked for but were never granted to me by the Universe. It can easily make you bitter if you don’t focus on the good you have in your life. But passion? I have somewhat forgotten what that feels like to be passionate about something. You’ve really made me think about it today and I will continue to do so. I wonder….can showing kindness to others be a passion? 🙂
Krystal Davis says
I recently lost my job. In the past 5 years, I haven’t been at a job more than 1.5 years. I’m a Registered Nurse. I never wanted to be a nurse but I’ve lied to myself and tell myself I love it. Looking back, there must be a reason I’ve not held a nursing position that long. I wanted to be a chef. My father wanted me to be a nurse from the moment I was born. Now that I’m without a job I can take a few culinary classes to see if culinary arts is my passion. I’ve been looking at things negatively. Why do a this keep happening to me? Why is my world turbulent? I’ve never really applied myself to anything that I haven’t struggled with. I’ve been successful at things but I’ve never pushed myself beyond that point. I’ve been afraid to try anything new. I make excuses why I can’t do this or that. I want to make these changes, to be vulnerable, to be open and honest.
I greatly appreciate your efforts to share your insights.
I too use my personal Facebook page as a place to share words of encouragement.
I suppose I have spent my lifetime in the passionate pursuit of harmony.
My endeavors have been small and personally motivated but worthwhile.
This planet is an amazing life support system for a myriad of life forms.
When we coexist in harmony; respectful of one another the consequences are powerful. History provides the evidence: humans are incapable of understanding the karma of kindness. Humans rush about self centered pursuing progress: ”financial gains” on the inevitable course to extinction.
Thank you, for your persistent public efforts to encourage people to know themselves and examine personal motives.
I believe your words contain a powerful positive messages:
“There is only one thing for healing that works every time – to rediscover what excites you and then dive deeper into it. That’s the only positive effort that a battered mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or doubt, and never dream of regretting. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion & Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)”
Joanna Lockwood says
My passion in life is driven by my love of animals and nature. My son turns 50 in December, and in that 50 years I have had 7 weeks, yes just 7 weeks, without a dog or dogs !!
With a dog companion, you have to walk, indulge in the delights of nature, or the seasons, or weather, of plant growth and smells and sounds. This in itself lifts the spirits and pushes you into the next stage of your daily life experience. It is also accompanied, in very many instances, by converstion, chat, learning and delight ! During the pandemic I continued to dog walk, although maybe not correct. I live in a small, rural community where the love and support shown to all of our friends and neighbours, exceeded beyond all expectations the caring and attention needed to be kind.
Go out into the world and bounce from situation to situation to enhance the love and magnitude of this wonderful world we get to call ours !
J. Gonzales says
Every morning, after feeding my cat, I feed two feral cats and squirrels and birds and when I go back inside, I watch them, standing by the windows of a small porch i watch, i stop for a moment to enjoy how they eat and enjoy my treats. that moment has an intentional joy because I am providing a delightful moment for these animals and my day evolve with the satisfaction of loving them. My cat is next to me enjoying the moment.