“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 grandmother 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 fundamental 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 our coaching clients, 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…
1. You need to do hard things to be happy in life (and you can).
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!
2. Putting your whole heart and soul into ordinary moments is what creates life’s magic.
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…
3. Stop waiting — that’s the real lesson here!
It’s not too late, but you do have to get started. In other words, 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.
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!
Just keep reminding yourself that 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, and creates progress in life.
Now is the time. It’s your turn!
Just put your heart and soul into what you’ve got right in front of you today…
But before you go, please leave Angel and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Which one of the points above resonated the most today?
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