The Passionate Pursuit of Happiness

July 24, 2006 at 6:12 pm (Personal, Uncategorized)

Long has been the time during which I’ve envied those around me and their passion for something. How some people are capable of being just that passionate to pursue something that makes them completely consumed by happiness to continue doing it over and over again, is beyond my abilities.

I’ve debated why this is for as long as I can remember. Friends have always had hobbies that I am interested in but far to lazy to get beyond trying but once. Colleagues have always shown a drive and desire for their roles; whereas I have made it a career to succeed and excel with as little effort as possible, yet never feeling truly motivated by what it is I am doing.

Not everyone is so passionate or motivated, I am aware of that. However, at 31 and counting, not having really finished anything I’ve begun (including a marriage – though I tried), and not sure what I want to be when I grow up… passion has been on my mind a lot.

There are many things I enjoy doing. Besides the occaisonal long walk on the beach and romantic dinner by candlelight, I enjoy a few short-lived hobbies and the idea that one day, if I play my cards right, I too can be an educator. It’s that kick-in-the-ass ability several of my close friends have that I feel I lack. However, I talk a good show – I have always been a firm believer that if you truly want to do something, you’re the only one who can make it happen.

Self-advice however is the hardest to swallow. I assume that’s why so many people are in therapy. I’ve considered seeing one myself lately but I haven’t been able to make that leap for a couple of reasons: 1) I feel I know myself well enough to see myself through tough times, 2) A good friend is often as good as a $150/hour therapy session, and 3) I want to define more why I feel I would need to see a therapist.

Reason #3 is my latest mental debate. I have begun to recognize that the majority of why I feel unhappy or unmotivated from time to time is simply because I am not doing something that makes me happy or motivated! That simple realization – though seemingly obvious and often felt – is only just now really sinking in. It’s one thing to hear… another to listen. Now, I feel if I’m going to seek guidance from a therapist, it’s going to be one who specializes in career development.

As for hobbies, I have had several and enjoyed them each to a good degree. Crocheting, sewing, painting, jewelry making, baking, etc. Each has been something I wish to pursue further yet I find myself too lazy – too unmotivated – to take the hobby box out of the closet, open it up, make a space on the table, pull everything out… blah blah blah. Cuz then – then! – I’ll have to actually clean it all up later! Oh, and let’s not forget if I am unable to be productive to the degree I envision myself doing. I mean, if it’s not perfect at the end – why even bother?

Though I have always valued my ability to think through – at least fairly well – the course of a project and its possible risks, I am beginning to believe that it’s consuming me. It is a very uptight and lazy way to live. If I constantly put the end before the beginning, how do I expect to truly get anywhere? It’s the fear of the unknown. Of failure. Why bother to do something if I can’t do it the way I envision and then will have to deal with the mess of later?

Driving home from my workout yesterday, I had a bit of an epiphany regarding this situation. It occurred to me that I need to do two things to be a happier person:

  • Let something consume me at least once in my life.
  • Completely fall head over heels in love with something.

If I achieve at these two goals I believe I will have experienced that same passion and motivation – desire if you will – that I witness in those with whom I am close and envy. Letting myself just enjoy the moment… letting myself release my inner tensions. To stop hiding the fear of failure… that I what I believe will make me happy. At least until the next stage of my life.



  1. Maria said,

    And of course passion is so elusive. Once you think you’ve found it, it stays with you for a little, but then it loses power, and you need more fuel. For instance I may have succeeded at combining work and hobbie into a career, and thank God I went for something that seems to never end – every day there’s something new to learn, someting interesting worth looking into. Because the truth is that I’m starting to get bored doing the stuff I’ve been doing for the last few years. What an annoyance, huh?

    Your comment about hobbies makes me laugh!
    I had this one time in my life when I was just waiting. I was young and still living with my parents. I had quit my job and had just been accepted to business school. I had like 2 months or so of “nothing to do” before the tornado. It was one of the most passionate times of my life…

    I had just started painting watercolors and was learning the craft. 90% of all my wc paintings happened during that time. I would wake up in the morning, have breakfast, and run immediately to our little art studio (my dad had built one for mom and I) and spend the whole day there completely in flow. I was never hungry or sleepy to stop painting. Showers were a waste of time – though I would take one every other day- It was absolutely awesome! One of the few times in my life where I didn’t feel pressured to perform anything for anybody. And the inspiration and interest kept fueling me.

    Many years later, back in the real world, some day I would feel like painting. So, I would go as far as browsing my book of inspiration ideas, and after hours of looking for “the perfect subject” I would quit the whole idea. Like you say, I was unable to start painting if I didn’t fell like I was inspired and was gonna end up with a good painting. It’s exactly what you have already identified:

    The anticipation of failure kills the passion.
    The pressure to perform kills the passion.

    I can tell from the few moments of consumming passion I have ever experienced: I was conscious of the risks, I had thought about them, but the drive to do something was way more powerful. The decision to do it was really coming from the gut – not the brain. The brain was very worried, and I would attempt to calm him down by saying: “If I fail, at least I tried. Nothing you attempt or do is ever wasted”. I believe that…

  2. Jennifer said,

    Hi Maria –

    Everything you said is so on the money. You, by the way, are one of the friends I envy. You have had those moments in your life both in the past and present. I feel I am still seeking one moment to at least have experienced.

    Something that occurred to me last night sort of tacks onto this topic. Essentially, as we age we evolve into a different state of being. (Not that we change, but that we become who our destiny is set out to be – another topic I’m writing about for later.) Anyway, it was as I saw a silly commercial for the discount store Ross: a college-bound girl was talking about decorating her dorm room. I thought to myself, “Gee, I remember that time in my life. When all I wanted was cute fluffy/fuzzy/neon crap to decorate with. But now, that is so not where I’m at.” Point being, it was another of my obvious realization moments – one I had always known I had but had just then put deeper meaning to.

    We evolve over time – we are made to be a certain way. Each passing year we become a new version of our former selves.

    How this relates to passion, for me, is: maybe I just haven’t hit that moment yet. As you said, it often comes from the overriding feeling of desire regardless of how conscious we are of risks or failure or possible outcome. Maybe, just maybe, some people are meant to have multiple moments of intense inspiration while others are not.

    In the end I feel too that a part of one’s make-up is their ability – drive even – to seek out those moments. To at least try something new every so often to seek what interests you. As you mentioned, “at least I tried – nothing wasted.” I think that’s the best advice anyone can hear or give themselves. Stop comparing ourselves to those around us who are successful at performing their passions; instead, we need to continue plowing forward to find what we are good at, what we are passionate about. Even if I die having not found that one – elusive – moment I’ll have the memory that I was at least passionate about finding my passion.

  3. Maria said,

    I forgot who told me this… “Every seven years we are a different person”. That’s right.. We change, and shit happens in our lives. So, if you feel that you haven’t hit that moment yet, the good news – I think- is that you are at a point of big change, and opportunities to find something new are ahead.

    I’m not sure if you’d like this kind of book… I kind of doubt it… It’s not self-help, and some people think it’s just a bunch of bull shit. Kind of esoteric, but I like that, and I like to believe in magic and miracles. I knew about it when I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. It was the first year of b-school, and I was feeling like crap because for the first time everyone around me was great. I didn’t feel particularly remarkable… I wasn’t sure I could take the load… I felt ugly, and lonely… I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing… And I started reading this book…

    It’s kind of a magical story and it talks about forks in the road, and coincidences, and energy, and a bunch of stuff that sounds too crazy to discuss in this comment. But the main premises resonated with me, and it completely changed my frame of reference at the time. I started appreciating things that were invisible to me before. I started trying things that I didn’t dare, or care, to do before… I was so alert, and centered… The fall was starting, and I experienced a period of weeks (not hours) of sheer happiness. For no reason whatsoever. Everything was exactly the same. I just looked at it differently, and I didn’t need passion for anything or anybody to feel HAPPY. I’ve never experienced anything like that again.

    It may not have the same effect on you, and you may not even want to read it – but if you get desperate during the quest, maybe this can give you some new ideas

  4. raygaines38355 said,

    I felt all the benefits from reading your first post before I even got my first cup of green tea. Click

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