Something that I think many people desire in life is to live with more passion. They want to genuinely care more about the things they do, contribute toward something that they find meaningful, and feel the emotions of life. I do believe that the quality of our life is closely related to the quality of the emotions we feel, and passion is an incredible source of filling your world with positive and fulfilling emotions.
But something that is misunderstood, and reveals a great truth about passion, is its true etymological meaning. It comes from the latin root word “pati” which means 'to suffer'. This suggests that the things we care most about, that lights up our heart, comes from a place of suffering rather than joy.
This might come as a surprise to you because we have such positive associations with passion. We’re all told to pursue what we’re most passionate about. And that’s because you can harness an incredible sense of purpose and fulfillment by contributing toward something that is connected to your own personal pain.
This relates back to another piece of advice I heard recently, which is that you are most capable of helping the person you once were. Read that again - You are most capable of helping the person you once were. This is in business solving someone’s problems and being paid for it, offering support and guidance to a family member or friend, or even in a more formal role through volunteerism. We feel called to support people in that way because we know how hard it can be, how painful it can be, and it’s meaningful to be a part of alleviating that pain for others.
For example, I am deeply passionate about helping people believe that they can change the world. I want to help people who have so much to offer and who have really, really good intentions, overcome the roadblocks in their path keeping them from becoming who they know they can be.
This passion comes from the most challenging moments of my life. I’ve always believed in my heart that I’m going to change the world, and after college I got into a great job but one where I felt like I was replaceable and not making a unique contribution. I was a star athlete and Dean’s List student, and when all of that was stripped and I became just another person in the workforce, I lost sight of what I was capable of and started to doubt if I was good enough to do what was on my heart. My passion comes from a version of my personal suffering.
All that to say, lean into the pains and adversities of your life. Your experience makes you uniquely qualified to help people in ways others can’t. And to internalize this right now I want you to ask yourself this question - What have I experienced that I’m really passionate about helping other people with?
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