“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.”
That’s an old parable my grandma recited to me countless times when I was a kid. I’ve since seen a shortened version of it circulate on social media, oftentimes being falsely attributed to John Lennon, Goldie Hawn, and others. While the internet sleuths seem conflicted over who penned the very first version of the parable, it’s a story that has always stuck with me. Sure it oversimplifies the complexities of happiness, but it makes some good points too. And my grandma’s version has that line about “finding happiness in hard work,” which is a concept that still resonates deeply with me today.
As adults, Angel and I have spent nearly two decades working one-on-one with hundreds of course students, book readers, and live event attendees who struggle with variations of that very concept — finding happiness when life demands that we work hard for it. So many of us attach to the expectation that life should be easier than it is. Regardless of what we choose to do “when we grow up,” we subconsciously fantasize that our chosen path will have very few detours, interruptions, and inconveniences. And then we wait around endlessly for things to get easier, as countless good opportunities pass us by.
Whenever you catch yourself stuck in this kind of unproductive cycle, remind yourself that…
You need to do hard things to be happy in life!
Yes, you need to do the things most people would rather avoid — the things that make you uncomfortable, that are far easier to run from, that others can’t possibly do for you… the things that make you stronger but also make you question how you’re going to find the strength to push forward.
Because those 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 to yourself and one filled with purpose, progress, and fulfillment.
Consistent and passionate daily action!
Learn to believe in your heart that you’re meant to live each day full of passion and purpose — that each and every moment is worthy in its own way. And remind yourself that 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 push yourself to step forward.
Many of us are still hopelessly trying to “find our passion” — something that we believe will lead us closer to happiness, success, or the life situation we ultimately want. And I 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!
Going back to when I was a kid again, 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.
Remember, new paths are made by walking, not waiting. And no, you shouldn’t feel any more confident before you take the next step. Taking the next step is what gradually builds your confidence.
Truth be told, if you wait for “the right time” — if you wait until you feel 100% ready — you will be waiting the rest of your life. Take this to heart right now. 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 taking small steps forward, than it is 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 today…
And if you’re feeling up to sharing, Angel and I would love know:
- What exactly are you investing your heart and soul into today? (What’s something small that you could be passionate about right now, if you really wanted to be?)
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Victoria Evans says
Thank you so much for the perspective this morning. I could put my whole heart and soul into making breakfast and lunch for my children and getting them off to school today. I woke up tired and grouchy this morning, and I’ve been resting the har little bits of work in front of me before I have to get ready for work. But you know what? You’re sooo right! THESE HARD THINGS ARE NECCESSARY, and they aren’t even that hard really. And when I think of putting my heart and soul into doing it all, it reminds me that I’m actually quite blessed.
Your emails and books never cease to inspire me. Thank you. I’m also looking forward to attending your next think live better conference when you announce it.
So spot on today, Marc and Angel! Passion comes from positive action. When we take steps with a positive attitude, the work we do is often more effective, because our hearts are actually in it. Keep the excellent emails and articles coming.
And to answer your question, I’m putting my whole heart into writing this comment. I read your blog every week and this is the first time I’m leaving a comment. Usually I think I don’t have time, etc, etc.
Ps. Just ordered your 1000 Little Things book too. 🙂
Kusum k says
The artical is so driving and refreshing. While walking the path of our lives we often forget gist of what is at hand and bother too much for what may come in future with our actions . We plan for future, which is perfect thing to be done as per human psychology but it let us loose our present we sacrifice our present for tomorrow and regret later. We think…. Think a lot what it will be like tomorrow but did not muster courage to accept that we also need to enjoy building our future. I have been strangled in past bruises and end up getting hurt again. Off late have started taking things at hands, figuring out beauty of life…. Which lies at present… Life may be tough or unfair but we should be soft and fair to ourself by untying ourselves from waiting…
Hi Marc. I’m enrolled in the getting back to happy course and I just wanted to openly say thank you. Today’s blog post reinforces the importance of the positive daily rituals you and Angel have built with me over the past couple months. I know I still have a distance to go before I’m back on the “life track” I want to be on, but I do appreciate the progress I’ve made recently and the fact that the little daily rituals I’ve been sticking to have reignited some of the passion that I had lost before my divorce.
“They wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for passion and happiness.
“Thank you so much for this wonderful reminder ^^. I think you’ve also done a really good job of busting the myth that living passionately is easy. It seems like it should be, that everything should just line up nicely because well, you are living your passion! But actually, that is not the case. The right things are sometimes the hard things.
Amazing. We talked about this in church this morning – – that doing the right things in life takes effort and most people don’t want to put in the work. I put my best efforts into moving… just got a new house and it’s smaller so I’m conscious about I’m keeping, and what I have to let go of, even if I don’t want to.
I’m becoming more and more passionate each day about my physical, mental and spiritual health. I liked how you explained passion in a way that really resonated. Today I am passionate about getting my morning chores done before yoga! Thank you for your inspiration. First time I’ve left a comment here too.
Thank you this is wonderful .
Passion and purpose into having a nice breakfast with my 11 year old
Isaias Alezones says
Thank you for the many inspirational moments I received from you free of charge, specially when I needed these the most and during the times I had no means to repay. You are both a very rare example of true kind people in these days of chaos and lack of compassion. Once, I get better situated mentally, physically, and financially, I will reach out to invite you both and your wonderful and meaningful words of encouragement to be part of my project to benefit middle school kids and to help them decide for a better future on their own.
Bonnie Peterson says
Love your articles! They are so uplifting and encouraging. Just what I need! My life motto has always been, ” Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”
I think this fits in with what you’re saying. Maybe others think that I haven’t achieved great things but I’ve done small things with passion! My life has been full and I am so grateful.
Great perspective on passion. I agree with this perspective on being passionate and creating happiness in our lives. I also think happiness is determined by our emotions or current circumstances and can be temporary, but Joy is what we should be striving to have on a consistent basis. Joy is not determined by our circumstances or who is in our lives or not. My Joy is in God (Yahweh) and knowing I am here for a purpose and everything happens for a reason that leads to a bigger purpose. My decisions matter, my perspective matters, the reason I do things matter, being true to who I am and was created to be matters, following my intuition and Holy Spirit matters to live in passion and purpose. I believe passion comes from doing things we love to do with positive purpose.
I recently discovered I have a passion I was totally unaware of. I bought a new house last year and wasn’t able to take my piano with me from the old house. After a year of not playing, I bought a piano for the new house, and rediscovered how much pleasure I get from playing it. That is a time when I am so totally immersed into what I am doing, I am in my own world and enjoying every minute of it. Now I wonder why I waited a year before getting the new piano.
Abah John Oc says
My eyes were open to alots of facs about life today. I always know that there are no better time to start doing things that am really passionate about, like things that am happy and love doing as well than to start but how to start them has been my challenges. Am technically gifted and love doing engineering but am an undergraduate and I really want to finish my education. I love helping people as well cause it makes me happy.
Thanks for the knowledge you have pass on to me today I really learn from it. I will work hard to build myself up to do what makes me Happy.
Thank you Mark and Angel.
Leonora R. says
I’m putting all my focus and attention on clearing out a spare room and donating things to charity. I want to turn this room into an art and writing studio. I’m also giving my passionate attention to applying for a graduate school program.