I have always been a person with a lot of passions. I feel passionately about so many issues that it has always been a challenge to focus in on any one passion. If I could just combine some of them, I have often thought, then I would really be following my bliss. I have been fortunate in the last few of years to combine my passions into one or two activities.
One of those, of course, is my dog and I seeing clients at the Homeless Emergency Project. This combines working with the homeless, sharing the power of animals to heal, giving back to an agency who gave me so much, and getting to hear people’s life stories. All of these I feel passionately about.I am also giving my dog Duke a job, which he needs since I don’t need him as much to help me out physically. It makes Duke incredibly happy to go and it makes me incredibly happy to watch him be happy doing something with me that combines my passions.
Another example is my job teaching psychology courses online. This incorporates my passion for writing, helping others to see things from a different perspective, more life stories, and getting to share my love of science and research.
I consider myself fortunate to have a couple more examples of the merging of my passions that I could share here. I never really expected to be able to engage my passions with a chronic illness, but it seems that I pursue them even more passionately now than I ever did before.
What makes something a passion? How can you know for sure? It is a lot like being in love really and here are eight tell-tale signs.
1. You think about it a lot.
2. You want to spend all of your time doing it. 😉
3. You talk faster and are more animated when you talk about it.
4. It gets you out of bed in the morning with more pep in your step.
5. When you think about it, you smile and your heart flutters a bit.
6. You want to talk about it with everyone you meet.
7. Your eyes sparkle and shine when you talk or think about it.
8. You lose track of time while spending time doing it.
I have been fortunate to know myself well enough to get that if I wasn’t pursuing at least one or two of my passions, then I was not happy. I tried to select jobs, side jobs and volunteer pursuits to fit with my passions. I had my share of jobs I didn’t enjoy at all as well.
My dad and I had a conversation about jobs once when I asked him how work was for him. He said it is a job, no one likes their job really. I had to beg to differ, which apparently I do a lot with him, as he recently pointed out to me about various things.
I shared at the time that I did like my job. Actually, I loved my job and then shared further that I seemed to need to have a job that I loved or I couldn’t drag myself out of bed very well to make it there. I had always admired that he could do that even when he was unhappy at his job.
Back then, before my illness, I was working as a homeless outreach therapist as my full-time gig, teaching an introductory psychology course one night a week for St. Petersburg College, and refereeing basketball on the weekends or in the evenings. I felt a love for each of those jobs. Some days I loved them more than others, but overall, I was grateful that could pursue what I loved for a living.
Since then, I have met many people who have stopped working their “day job” for a living to pursue or to create their own employment opportunities, so they could incorporate what they were passionate about into their lives.
I admire these people and the risks they took to step outside of the secure box of full-time employment where there was no personal growth or passion. For many of them, once they started to pursue what they loved, it all actually fell into place quickly and effortlessly.
Sure, there were challenges, but they were able to work through the challenges with more ease because they loved what they were doing. I love to hear those stories! I also hear stories where the challenges came and they got scared, abandoned the project and went back to what they were originally doing that they didn’t really like at all. There is always that option.
Are you doing what you love? Is there a “perfect” job for you? If not, what kind of job would you create for yourself? Do you spend your spare time pursuing your passions instead? Love and passion seem to come with some inherent risks and if we can see beyond the fear of taking those risks, there is no telling where we might end up.
Can you imagine if more of us were happy doing what we spend most of our time doing? If we are happier at work or balancing our work time with our passions, then we are happier in other areas of our lives as well. Road rage would lesson, we’d see fewer stress-related illnesses, less domestic violence, less substance abuse, etc. Bottom line is that there would be more love. Can you imagine it?