With a high-five and some awesome guidance from our resident Positive Psychology and Philosophy guru Taylor Kreiss, this month we immersed ourselves in wisdom and insight all about Passion. From the minds of some of our favorite thinkers (including Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Dr. Robert Vallerand, Søren Kierkegaard, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Friedrich Nietzsche) straight to your inbox, here are a few things we learned about Passion this month:
1. Our passions are ever-evolving.
Most of us probably associate the term passion with some amount of pressure or baggage. We have this idea that we’re supposed to be searching for one single thing that we’re destined to do, and once we find it all of our problems will magically disappear. There’s an illusion that all we have to do is find our passion and then we’ll be happy, healthy, fulfilled, and 100% set for life.
But the reality is that most of us will have many passions throughout our lives, and how we relate to them will be different for each of us. Whether your passions are directly linked to your career or something you’ll never make a penny from, the important thing is to be seeking whatever makes you come alive, and do it — whenever you can and in whatever way feels most meaningful and fulfilling to you.
We included some awesome activities and reflection exercises to help us get a little closer to our passions in this month’s Passion Guide. 🔥
2. It is essential to check our motivations.
Just like last month when we talked about creativity, intrinsic motivation is a vital component to finding and engaging with the things we’re passionate about. When we do things we love because they make us feel full, fulfilled, happy, and more content, we’re more likely to relate to them in a healthier way. When we follow our extrinsic motivations (wealth, attention, praise), we depend on all of those things for fulfillment. It places our contentment in the hands of others — how they receive our work, judge us, pay us, and what they think of us — which, as you can guess, often leads to negative feelings. When we do and make things just for ourselves, the outcome and what anyone thinks of it is beside the point. 💪
Intrinsic motivation is also a key piece of achieving a state of Flow, which brings us to…
3. Get lost in the flow.
Research psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi brings us one of our favorite concepts this month: Flow. Flow is a hyper creative and satisfying state of being where we lock into what we’re doing, often lose track of time, and feel most productive and energized. The ability to lock into a state of flow is a great indicator that we’re engaged in something we’re passionate about and that we’re on the right track. Think of flow as a series of green lights telling you to keep going, that you’re on the right track. 👌
4. Think like a designer.
Stanford University professors and Silicon Valley veterans Bill Burnett and Dave Evans suggest taking a creative approach to finding work that is most meaningful to you: think like a designer. Central to their method is creating and testing our passions like designers create and test prototypes. It takes the pressure off finding the one single thing we love and connect with most, encourages us to be active participants, and pushes us to explore our many interests without worrying about wasting time or making mistakes — because that’s precisely the goal of creating prototypes! We love that their process involves failing often and early — a practice that helps us keep moving forward and builds resilience. 😉
Learn more about Design Thinking in one of our favorite podcasts featured in this month’s Curated Resources.
5. The “How” matters.
When it comes to engaging with our passions, researchers break our healthy and unhealthy tendencies into two categories: harmonious and obsessive. Dr. Robert Vallerand explains that harmonious passions are intrinsically motivated: we engage with them because we want to, not because we’re seeking validation, praise, wealth, or material success. They allow for a healthy balance in other areas of our life and generally provide a sense of fulfillment or contentment while actively engaging. Obsessive passions are extrinsically motivated. We engage with them to fill our egos in some way. They often take over, not leaving time or energy for other things. We link our self-esteem and self worth to our ability to engage with our perform our passions.
Engaging with our passions is some of the best stuff of life. They’re often the activities, interactions, and moments that are often most meaningful and enjoyable to us. So it’s absolutely vital that we learn to engage with them in a way that sustains them, that gives them (and us!) space to flourish and bring joy.
Hey, Members. 👋 Don’t forget to check out this month’s theme page to access the Passion Guide, Curated Resources, and Passion Art Digital Downloads to go a little deeper into each of these concepts and keep the theme at the front of your mind this month!
Jennifer Lioy is a writer, designer, illustrator, feelings-haver, and all-things-doer at Holstee (technically, the Creative and Communications Lead if anyone important is asking). She lives in Austin, TX and eats breakfast tacos every day. If given the chance, she will corner you in a bar to ask you what you’re afraid of.
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Every month we select a few writers to help us explore what it means to live more fully and mindfully. Reach out to Jennifer, our Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about contributing.
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