“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” -T.D. Jakes
I spent several years of my life as a hermit. Not the cool kind, on a remote island like Luke Skywalker, but an outwardly functioning member of society with an office job. I’d got really good at presenting a normal facade to my co-workers, while I was actually completely isolated.
What nobody knew was that I was paying back a fairly substantial debt by huge installments each month. This left me unable to spend money on pretty much anything other than rent and food. It narrowed my horizon considerably, and I didn’t notice how I was slipping into a constant light depression. I kicked my friends out of my life and told myself I was happy. At the same time, I ate junk food for comfort and convenience and hardly ever moved. I gained weight and grew more tired and listless by the day.
Thankfully, I’ve the best friends in the world, who never gave up on me. When the debt was paid off and I finally found myself ready to return to life, they were there to pick up right where we’d left it and were a huge help when I undertook the laborious task of pulling myself out of my self-chosen isolation.
Disclaimer: This is not one of those articles that claim you just need to “be positive” to get out of depression, or some such idiocy. If you’re depressed, get help from a qualified professional. Just like cancer can sometimes go into remission spontaneously, depression can disappear. It did in my case, but usually, it needs treatment. We clear on that? Okay.
I downsized my life. I quit the soul-destroying job I was in, moved to the country and got a much nicer work-from-home job.
Next, I threw myself into doing things I’d denied myself for years. I travelled to see those friends who live further away, I took up traditional archery and historical swordfighting and started dancing again. It may sound a little hedonistic, but after all the self-denial, seeking joy and passion became a huge part of healing myself.
I found out which foods make me want to go to sleep, and avoided those. Without trying, just by eating gorgeous, whole foods I enjoyed, the extra weight started dropping off, and the more I lost, the more active I became. Before, I’d spent my days sitting down – now I could barely sit still for more than half an hour.
Pursuing my passions, I proved to myself that I had escaped the numbing bubble of depression. I could feel again, and it was bliss.
Then the other emotions bubbled up. Everything I had suppressed for so long – anger, sadness, feelings of isolation – stirred up like a dark cloud of slick from the bottom of a lake. I painfully remembered the way I hadn’t been there for my best friend when she needed me, the way I’d abused and weakened my body, years and years of utter isolation.
I spent weeks in pitch darkness. There were floods of tears, but at the same time, I was grateful just for feeling again. I vowed I’d never allow myself to suppress my emotions, ever again.
It took some time, but there was no way I could have hurried this. There was a lot of processing all the sadness and the regret over losing years of my precious life-time. Eventually, my life started to settle into a path, albeit a colourful one! I’m a multi-passionate, which means I have lots of different interests.
Oh, I know. “Passion” has become such an overused word for almost anything. I’ve been trying to re-claim the expression to return to what it originally meant: Something which truly lights me up.
Lessons learned from my passions
In fact, I believe I’ve stumbled upon the most foolproof way of finding one’s purpose in life: By giving emotions and the pleasure principle free reign. Here’s what I learned.
- I realised that I wasn’t put on this planet to pay bills and die. Of course, theoretically I’d known this all along, but my reality simply didn’t align with this insight. When I finally understood, I began to ask what the main thing in life should be, and the answer was “joy”.
- The fastest shortcut to joy that I know of is passion – in the aforementioned definition of “something which truly lights me up”. Finding and pursuing my passions made me overflow with happiness.
- The logical conclusion of 1. and 2. is to reverse the accepted priorities of modern life. Most people focus on making a living and performing chores, and their passions get half an hour on a Sunday, if that. In contrast, I began to radically prioritise my passions and put them front and centre in my life.
I believe being joyful is our natural state of being. Once you show the universe that you’re serious about centering your life around joy, the rest tends to fall into place around them.
People often tell me they “don’t have time” for their passion, that they have a job and family and other obligations. Everybody’s situation is individual, of course. However, I haven’t seen a single case where someone didn’t manage to still earn money and have enough – often more – time for their loved ones than before once they dared to focus on what lights them up first.
Make a decision, then get the support you need and create your own life of joy. It’s your birthright.
Sibylle is a joy-seeker and professional Life Coach at http://www.wildspiritscoaching.com who helps clients break out of the tyranny of “work, pay bills, buy things and consume” and instead prioritise doing what lights them up. She lives in the beautiful West of Ireland.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.