Fill your life with passion: you can only feel fully alive when you pursue your dreams – Life Lessons
A few months ago, 11 alumnae of Shape’s Body Confident program met at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, Calif. Since 1996, Shape’s annual program has been helping the women who attend feel better about their bodies (two sessions are offered at each event – one for newcomers, one for alumnae). Some of the women were attending their seventh alumnae session. In past years, the women who participated had worked through topics such as body image, relationships and spirituality. All those themes coalesced this time as participants explored the subject “Finding Your Passion, Finding Your Path.” The three-day event was designed to help the women to let go of a life based on others’ expectations, self-imposed limitations or how things have been in the past and to form a new vision of a life fully realized, one filled with passion.
To be passionate means to live from your center – your heart and your soul. Because the term evokes different emotions in different people – excitement, meaning, love, commitment, enthusiasm, delight, fervor, wild abandon – before we can integrate passion into our lives, we first need to know what stirs it in us.
How to discover your passion
Some women are well aware of what makes their heart pound with excitement and their spirits soar. For many others, however, those interests and activities lie forgotten or neglected. In many cases, they have never even been uncovered.
Psychologist Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., the body-image expert for Shape’s Body Confident program, has come up with a few questions to help you connect with your passions. Jot down the first answers that come to mind, and you will likely find themes that provide a starting point:
* When was the last time you got goose bumps? Listening to a stirring speech, rafting on a river, journaling?
* If you could trade jobs for one year with someone, who would it be?
* When you think about periods of your life, what are the two most meaningful and joyful?
Pursue your passion
Kearney-Cooke cited a quote from author Jack London that resonated with the group: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” In other words, be deliberate about seeking opportunities and experiences that put you in touch with your passion. Look again at the answers to the questions you gave above and think about how you can put them into action:
* If you were moved by the subject of a speech you heard, you could become involved in working for that cause.
* If you wanted to change jobs with a nature photographer, for example, you could take your camera to a park and start experimenting.
* If one of the most meaningful periods of your life was challenging your mind in college, enroll in classes in some non-work-related subject that fascinates you. Perhaps you could learn a new language or how to design a garden.
Since a passion-filled life is not dependent on any particular activity or skill level, but on your engagement in the activity, it’s a life accessible to all of us. Pursuing passion takes courage, since it often means letting go of fears and situations we find comfortable. But consider what is more likely to provide those experiences of passion: What holds you back or what sets you free?
(For more information about the Body Confident program, log on to Shape.com/shapeevents.)
Angela Hynes is a Los Angeles-based health and psychology writer.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group