Passion. A word one usually associates with romance, and often with youth. But romance is not passion’s only playing field, and passion is certainly not reserved for the young.
Passion is, in fact, a primary factor in keeping one young. At least in feeling young, and decidedly in feeling more youthful. You see, passion is an emotion, a prime motivator, a fire in the belly. Passion is what drives us to be better than we think we can be, go further than we thought we could, and along the way, know greater satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
As Carol Ryff discovered in her study of over 300 individuals, when people are passionately engaged in something, for the love of the activity itself, rather than for any fame or fortune, they report long-term well-being and fulfillment.
Similarly, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the gurus of positive psychology, has famously described being completely involved in an activity for its own sake as “flow.” What athletes and artists often call “being in the zone,” where nothing matters but what you are doing in that inspired, inspiring moment.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be an athlete or a gifted artist to experience passion and the well-being that comes along with it. Passion is about the feeling you have regarding the whatever-it-is you are so ardently engaged in.
For me, it’s competitive ballroom dancing. The fact that I’ll never be a professional dancer and can only go so far even in the amateur world, having started training at 70, is irrelevant. It’s still a driving force that fills me with joy.
For a dear friend of mine, passion is everything to do with genealogy. The thrill of discovering human connections. She comes back from genealogical conferences floating on air. I’d be bored beyond tears.
For another friend, it’s taking scrapbooking to a level I never knew existed. Passion can be the driver for literally any activity, from growing tomatoes to tutoring inner-city kids, to learning how to paint and then some.
Passion, for example, is what led Linda Owens, at 78, to take in her 81st infant to foster as a resource parent. Fostering newborns has been Linda’s passion for over 34 years, a significant and valuable community service for which she was recently honored with a Jefferson Award by a local TV station.
A well-earned award, as many of the babies Linda cared for required extra attention and devotion. Some of these infants were exposed to drugs in the womb, some experienced developmental delays, most had difficulty sleeping through the night.
Yet, a retired grocery store department manager, Linda has fostered these 80+ babies all on her own, a truly astonishing feat of care and compassion.
According to Mia Buckner-Preston, Placement Division Director of the Alameda County Department of Children & Family Services which places children in foster homes, Linda’s devotion is unparalleled among resource parents. And that devotion is grounded in her passion for giving these babies a good start in life. Which in turn brings Linda much happiness.
You may be among the lucky ones who already have a passion in life. Milk it for all its worth, and enjoy your passion to the hilt. If you don’t have a passion, you can find one. Give some thought to what you always wanted to do, but stopped yourself, for one reason or another, from doing.
Sometimes it’s what you dreamed of as a child, or before you became an adult or a parent with all its responsibilities. Sometimes it’s what you see another person accomplishing that inspires you.
Once you remove the need to make money from an activity, get famous or even good at it, you’ll find there are any number of attractive possibilities. Especially when you remember you can indulge your passion at any financial or skill level. Or at any age.
Yes, even being a “rock star.” OK, maybe a star only to your friends. I have a 75-year-old friend who’s a member of a rock band that started in a garage some 30 years ago and is still rocking it in that garage. And the occasional gig in a country bar. Happy? You bet. Passionate about it? Oh yes. Still exploring new riffs and twangs despite arthritic hands and hearing loss.
Find your passion without regard to age or any limitations. It will truly make a positive difference in your life.
What is your passion and how did it start? How does your passion influence your mindset? What do you do to fulfill your passion?