(set b) Finding your passion

Knowing your passion is essential to having a happy and productive college career and professional success.

Maybe you don’t know what your passion is. So you might feel like you’re ready to settle for something practical, or something you “should” be interested in.

However, passion can’t be found by following your “shoulds” or obligations. It’s more intimately personal and subjective than most of what are known as “duties.” 

Furthermore, you can’t discover it by thinking about it. It’s an emotional discovery. Your current stream of thoughts can be a major distraction from what you really would prefer to be doing. That’s why we offer you a basic mindfulness meditation below. It can allow you to refresh yourself and depart from your ordinary stream of thoughts. 

If you’re drawing a blank on discovering your passion, think about what dream or daydream is sometimes on your mind and often catches your interest. Whether it seems practical or not, it may reflect your passion.

However, if you’re not sure what your passions are, you can explore your mindset by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do you love to do that you wish you had more time for?

  • What’s an activity which never bores you?

  • What’s a talent of yours that you’ve neglected and let go by the wayside? 

  • Do you have family and friends that keep saying that your passions are wrong for you? 

  • What would you do if your family or friends encouraged you to follow your passions more thoroughly? 

  • What subject do you love to talk about to anyone who’ll listen?

After thinking about these questions, you may have more clarity on what really interests you. If you have too many ideas, you can narrow it down to a few you like the most at this time.

Next, you can identify your strongest passion by a direct method of mindfulness meditation that takes 20-30 minutes. In this method, you’ll first bring up a state of positive emotion in yourself. We’ll show you how. Then you’ll see how contemplating your pursuit affects your positive emotional state. 

Before beginning your meditation, clarify your ideas about two or three passions you’re seeking to know more about. Write them down and make them somewhat specific. For example, instead of “science,” write “engineering” or “chemical research.” Or instead of a general word like “helper,” you could write “guidance counselor.” 

For the meditation exercise, allow 20-30 minutes of undistracted time. Find a calm place where you won’t be disturbed or interrupted. Turn off your phone!

The steps for the meditation are as follows:

  1. Glance over your notes about what each passion means to you. Then, one at a time, see yourself actually doing each of these jobs. For each job, visualize the people you’d be interacting with, and the environment you’d be in. Write about the emotions that come up for you imagining each of these jobs.

  2. Next, set aside your thoughts about your potential jobs. In this step, you’ll be bringing up overall positive emotion in yourself. For a few minutes, immerse yourself in some good feeling (positive emotion), such as love or gratitude or happy enthusiasm. One way to get this feeling started is to picture someone or something you love or you are grateful for.

  3. Breathe slowly and deeply while holding on to your positive feelings. You’re likely to notice a tingling sensation, a smile, or a feeling of fullness.

  4. Once you have these good feelings about someone or something you love ongoing, next bring up separately the thoughts of each of your desired passions, one by one.

  5. Think about your passions. Pay attention to how each of them makes you feel. Does it increase your positive emotion of love, gratitude or enthusiasm? Or does it distract you from it, bringing up something like anxiety? Especially notice any images, sounds, words or feelings that come to mind.

  6. Write some notes about the images and feelings you had about your passions.

  7. Complete this meditation by congratulating yourself and feeling the satisfaction for what you’ve learned about yourself. 

If you’re on track with the passions you seek, you’ll have felt well-being, and you may experience an ongoing silence within. If you’re not on track, or if you didn’t focus, you’ll feel restlessness and you’ll hear more mental chatter. If so, try again, starting with relaxing and deep breathing. Then reconsider your passions. Is this really what you desire? Why or why not? 

How do you feel about your passions? If you have mixed attitudes about them, meditate some more and see what other passions may come up. As you stay with this process, you’ll begin to get better and better inner emotions. 

Connecting with your emotions about any subject matter or passion is the only way to be sure it’s right for you. The more positive the emotions, the better the passion is for you.

Suggested exercise: For your Self-Knowledge Workbook, write 100-150 words on your overall experience of your meditation. Describe the emotions associated with the passions you’re exploring. 

Congratulations! Now you know something more about your emotions and your passions, and what you desire to do with your life!