There’s a lot of talk going on these days about “finding your passion”, but what does that actually mean? Many of the books, articles and seminars that deal with that subject can certainly point you in the right direction toward finding a fulfilling and purposeful life.
How can you find something if you don’t know what it is?
However, I have noticed a somewhat overlooked omission. Most of these begin with the assumption that the reader or listener knows what “passion” means. They dive straight into the “whys” and “how-to’s” of the subject without actually defining “passion”. The truth is, that over the course of time, you and I naturally develop our impressions of a word and it’s meaning based upon the context that we’ve seen or heard it used. This may or may not give you a reliable definition. Passion is a very important subject, especially when it’s used in relation to our sense of personal fulfillment and our vocation.
Passion is a very important subject, especially when it’s used in relation to our sense of personal fulfillment and our vocation.
Since few things rank higher in life, maybe we should try to define it a little more clearly. Besides, how can you really find your passion if you are a little unsure of what “passion” is? So I am going to share three things in this post that I discovered that can help you gain a better understanding what is meant by the word “passion”.
Four things I found out about “passion”.
First, let’s take a quick look at the dictionary definition. Secondly, we’ll try to develop a common usage definition implied by those who write or speak about finding, developing and pursuing your passion. And lastly, for a little clarity, I’ll establish some things that passion is not. Let’s take a quick look at four common definitions that can be applied to the word passion.
1. Passion comes from the Latin verb “patior” which means to suffer or to endure. Incidentally, this is the meaning that has been used by the nonprofit for centuries in describing Christ’s suffering between the Last Supper and the Cross, and is referred to as the “Passion of Christ”.
2. Passion is also defined as “the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces”. So, if I understand this correctly, it means that this is something that is the subject of a person’s passion, i.e. “His passion is painting” , so then “painting” is the subject of the passion.
3. Another application of the word passion could also be viewed as an intense, convicting, overpowering feeling or drive.
4. Passion could also be viewed as a very strong affection, devotion, interest or desire that can range anywhere between an activity, a concept or an object. So then, it would be relatively safe to define passion, at least within the context we are talking about as: Passion is having a strong affection for an activity or concept that gives you an intense desire, devotion, and drive that will push you out of your comfort zone, even at the price of suffering.
Passion is having a strong affection for an activity or concept that gives you an intense desire, devotion, and drive that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even at the price of suffering.
Two things “passion” is not. . . at least in our context.
Now let’s set up two boundaries that will help us to focus and clarify it’s meaning by examining what “passion” is not. First, passion is not an obsession. Certainly, depending upon a person’s tendencies, it is possible for a passion to develop into an unhealthy obsession. Obsessions can and sometimes do turn into a terrible neglect of your spouse, children, health, or other important things in life. For an example, an obsession can become a strong, overwhelming emotion that clouds out rational thinking. This leads to a loss of self-control. In contrast, passion that we are speaking of is the opposite. Having a passion in life involves having a clear, sensible, and well-executed plan.
Secondly, passions are not hobbies. Although, there is a possibility of a hobby developing into a passion. Yet, the two are distinct from each other. A hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure and relaxation”. This really seems to clash with the origins of the word passion, which means to “suffer”. Truly having a passion is a thing in which you are intensely driven, which sounds quite the opposite of leisure and relaxation. I don’t know of too many “hobbyists” who are willing to endure hardships, overcome insurmountable obstacles, and adversities for something that is supposed to be enjoyment and relaxation. In fact, the opposite may be true. A person who is passionate will devote themselves to work diligently for long hours, establish disciplines, and endure difficulties that would discourage and stop an average hobbyist.