Today’s installment of the Coach’s Alphabet is P is for Passion, a word that is quite popular in my field of Life Coaching but one whose subjective meaning and its role in one’s life is rarely contemplated.
Passion is commonly understood to be ‘an extreme compelling emotion,’ yet historically, it stems from the Latin ‘pati,’ which means ‘to suffer or endure.’ I will reserve discussion of the risks of romantic passion for my personal blog and focus this post on exploring the potential for passion in day-to-day life.
To feel passion is to passionately feel-to experience intense emotions that ignite a sense of dynamic energy, vitality, and exuberance. Such intensity can be sourced by pain or pleasure–although it seems that pain is a more prevalent and powerful drive.
Think of a few examples of when you experienced intense emotions and identify the trigger. Hopefully, some of these moments include a beautiful landscape, enjoying times with loved ones, and/or the satisfaction of achieving a major accomplishment. Most likely you also remember times of physical suffering or emotional angst. Tally up the times that the extreme energy you experienced was sparked from a positive charge and those occasions when they were ignited by a negative one, what is the ratio?
Do you remember how much criticism Tom Cruise received when he jumped on Oprah’s couch because he could not contain his enthusiasm about finding the love of his life? The fact that it turned out to only be his love for seven years does not diminish the example’s value in illustrating how uncomfortable our society is with celebrating the good in our life with the same amount and consistency of fervor in which we dwell on the bad. Cruise appeared ‘crazy,’ as if he ‘lost hold of his senses,’ and that his ‘over-the-top’ emotions could not possibly be real. Again, regardless of how you judge the authenticity of his feelings, I would rather see a man jump up and down for love than listen to the vehemently belligerent arguments that take place amongst the political and economic pundits who dominate so much of mass media with their hyperbolic complaints. I wonder what the world would be like if the passions we dedicated to pointing out problems were redirected to finding solutions.
Personally I know that the frequency and degree of animation I use to complain about bad management or poor customer service far exceeds the grateful enthusiasm in which I kvell* about positive experiences where expectations are met, exceeded, or replaced by something unforeseen. Although I will humbly acknowledge, with great exuberance, that I have gotten much better at recognizing the opportunities and providing myself the permission to be deeply affected by everyday experiences.
As a structure to pro-actively experience a deeper engagement to my environment, I take a photograph everyday of something special which I post in my image-a-day album on Facebook. If I happen not to see anything that is particularly noteworthy, I just take a picture of something average and it automatically becomes significant to me. I then find an inspirational quote whose words add an additional layer of meaning to the image. As I’ve developed a passion for this project over the last 17 months, the consistent commitment to the process has stimulated a more intense dedication to my own creative perspective and expression.
Many clients hire me because they feel stuck and uninspired and want to increase their sense of passion and purpose. As we work together they realize that their challenge is not to become more passionate about their existing goals, but to shift their goals to be more aligned with their passions. The good news is such an evolution does not require a complete overhaul of their life circumstances nor personality. All it requires is the willingness to surrender control and endure the uncertainty that exists between releasing the grasp on the life they have and grabbing a hold of the life they want. I just keep reminding them how difficult it is to be swept away by passion when all your energy is focused on keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground.
If you want support and structure in igniting your passions, please contact me for a complimentary coaching session.
With much passion,
* Kvell is a Yiddish word which means ‘to be delighted,’ related to the German word quellen, meaning ‘to well up; gush.’