They say there’s no cloud without a silver lining, and although this pandemic has been a very large and very dark cloud, there have been a few silver linings here and there. Namely, some people have discovered passions they didn’t know they had. No, I’m not talking about a passion for Netflix, ice cream or wine binging, but a passion that adds purpose and meaning to one’s life.
A friend of mine waxed enthusiastic the other day: “I never imagined I would enjoy a book club. I hardly ever read before all this. But out of boredom as Covid wore on and on, I agreed to join a book club with a friend of mine, and I love it! I love the books, I love the discussion, I even love the arguments as we disagree on which character is most loveable or villainous.”
Another friend joined an online choir, she who had never sung before, and yet another found her work offered her more meaning as she became the office Zoom specialist.
Research has repeatedly shown that people who invest themselves wholeheartedly in a pursuit, with no other goal but the pleasure of engaging in it (as opposed for money, fame or power), enjoy greater well-being, live happier and often longer, than those who don’t.
There’s something enormously satisfying in losing yourself in a project or activity that you love. And it doesn’t matter if it’s tutoring disadvantaged children, scanning the heavens for new stars, or raising tomatoes in your backyard. All that matters is the passion is ignited.
For example, Florence “SeeSee” Rigney found her passion being a nurse. Florence, a surgical nurse at Tacoma General Hospital in Washington State, U.S., since 1946, finally retired in 2021 at 96 years young. Although Florence could have retired literally decades ago, after trying it once briefly, she found that retirement just wasn’t for her.
She felt blessed to be able to help take care of patients and she liked her co-workers. Her job brought her far too much joy and satisfaction to give it up. And those who worked by her side, day in day out, found her dedication, knowledge and zeal a constant source of inspiration. No big surprise, then, that Florence only retired at 96.
But here’s the thing. Florence gave herself wholeheartedly to the work she loved. It is that level of enthusiasm and heart that generates the passion, purpose and meaning so vital to our happiness and life satisfaction.
What has caught your interest during these long months when so much of our world was turned topsy-turvy? What intrigued you, if only for a moment, that you might now pursue? Perhaps you found yourself wanting to pick up that guitar that’s been gathering dust in the attic, taking out a sketchpad, or Googling quilting clubs.
Go with gusto for whatever intrigues you. Often, passion doesn’t get going until you’ve experienced doing the whatever-it-is for a certain length of time. Be patient with yourself, trust that initial impulse, and commit to the activity. If you truly don’t find it rewarding, then, by all means, explore other avenues.
Most importantly, don’t give up on yourself. It’s worth the payoff in increased well-being, energy, and happiness to discover a passion that brings greater purpose and meaning to your life.
What new activities have you begun since the pandemic began that you now enjoy? What are you doing now that you never thought you would do pre-pandemic?