A Life of Passion and Purpose

I was reading through some blogs this week and one of them caught my eye. It asked a question about if something could really be that simple. In many cases I think things can be very simple and straightforward, even to the point of it maybe being difficult to accept the truth or best course of action being so simple. As much as we like things to be simple, we also struggle with them being simple because we think it’s not up to par for our advanced brains and evolved lives. Sometimes it just is simple.

One of the things we’ll be taking a look at this month is the topic of passion. So as I was thinking about things being simple, I asked myself if passion was really that simple: if living passionate lives was really all it took to have a fulfilling and full life, if passion was the thing that’s missing in so many relationships, or if passion was the difference between success and failure. While I do think if we lived more passionate lives we’d have more fulfilling lives, I don’t think it can really stand by itself.

I think that passion has to be partnered with the right purpose to really be the fulfilling, engaging, community-building, success achieving emotion it can be. War often tells the tale of very passionate people, but people who are passionate about all the wrong things (Hitler for example), and their passion ends up scarring the world. The world of business also has plenty of stories of people who were passionate about something, but it wasn’t the customer or making the world a better place,. But when you look at people like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., you see someone who not only is passionate, but their passion helps build a better future, brings people together and they and their passion are talked about long after their death.

So what about you? What’s your passion? Are you living your passion? Will your passion help you build the life you really want to live or is it time to take a look at your life purpose and where you’re heading?

A Life of Faith and Fire

This week a well-known individual and leader passed from this life to the next: Billy Graham. He touched so many lives in so many ways and was outspoken about his faith and belief that life is so much more than what we deal with in our day to day lives. I believe that some of the reason he was well-known was because that was God’s plan for his life. Some of us are meant to live quiet lives of faith while others are given a lot more responsibility and a more visible calling.

But there was something else that he had that not everyone else shows the world, or is able to sustain for the many decades that Billy Graham did: passion. Billy Graham lived his life with a passion for living and for his faith. Anyone who knew Billy Graham could tell you about the passion he had, and how his life reflected that passion. He wasn’t shy about sharing his faith, but he didn’t do so in an abusive or aggressive or offensive way.

You may never have the world stage that Billy Graham did, but if you have any dreams or desires of getting there you better have a serious passion, whether it’s regarding your faith or something else. It’s not about being loudly vocal about something, or having the finances to put yourself on stage, or even about being something so that you can be on stage, it’s about having a true soul-deep passion for something (or someone), something that others identify with and can get excited about too. Where does that passion come from? It’s in large part about being true to yourself and following through on the abilities and passions you were born with or have developed.

Are you living in line with your passions and purpose, regardless of whether you’re on a national/world stage or just hanging out with friends? Focus on being who you are and choose to make a positive impact on each person you meet.

“If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire.” Saint Catherine of Siena

How Do You Love?

Today, thinking about Valentine’s Day next week I thought we’d talk about love, and how we can love. Each of us responds to love in different ways and needs different kinds of love to feel loved. But I think there are some universal truths to how we love that are the same for everyone.

Love passionately:
Before you say that this isn’t a way you love, I do belive that there are degrees of passion. Sometimes passion is a run-to-the-other-person-and-leap-into-their-arms passion, sometimes it’s that overwhelming, unbearably strong feeling of love that wells up in you when you see them. Passion doesn’t have to be loud or featuring over-the-top displays, you can see the passion between two senior citizens who have been together for more than half a century when they sit and look at each other. Passion is a feeling, not just an action or reaction, one that sometimes bubbles up to be seen and other times is just a deep and enduring connection.

Love generously:
Just about everyone has been hurt by love before, but I still believe that we should be giving when it comes to love. I haven’t ever been sorry that I was generous when it came to those I loved, even if the love wasn’t returned as generously as it was shared. And I think most of us who have relationships that have ended in divorce or separation or that didn’t last question if we had just given a little more effort to the relationship a little sooner if it would have survived or even thrived.  There’s such a thing as working too much, but I’ve never heard of anyone loving too much.

Love patiently:
Of the 3 we’re talking about today, this is one of the more challenging truths, but also one of the truths that can bring you the biggest victories with love. So much of our lives today are lived in the fast lane that we don’t always take the time to develop things as they should or to hang in there long enough for things to work out. You can love a pet or person for the few hours, days or years you have with them, if they have a terminal illness or you’re only with them for a short time (think about visiting a shelter to love on some pets waiting for their forever homes). Or you may be blessed with many years to love someone, years of easy love and years of love that will take a little more effort and waiting on your part. If it’s true love, it’s worth the deep breaths and repeated texts and letting the other person do things at their own pace.

Do you need to work on how you love your partner (or those around you)? How will you choose to grow in love this Valentine’s Day?

Passion: Present and Future

As we finish out last month’s talk on health, I want to talk about something that is sometimes necessary: starting over.  I was thinking about finishing September and getting one step closer to the end of this year and the start of a new one and I was reminded that sometimes you have to keep trying things to see where you fit in throughout your life.  What worked for you as a younger person may not work for you as an adult at this stage of your life, and what works now may not work for you in a few years.

As I was thinking about this I heard more about the phenom that is Tim Tebow.  If you’re not familiar with him, he was a college football star. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and continued his record setting career through the rest of his college years.  He spent a few years playing Pro football, having a few very successful (some would say lucky) plays and games, but ultimately retired in 2012.  He went on to do some broadcasting, but decided it wasn’t the right fit for him and moved to pro baseball in 2016 to quite a few heckles and jeers, but managed to hit a home run on his first at bat.

What interests me about the transitions he’s done in his life is that he keeps trying.  He was a fantastic college football player, but as it sometimes happens he wasn’t built for pro football.  Many people after they finish their pro career go to broadcasting or some related sports non-activity, which he tried.  But for some just being near something isn’t enough, they have to be truly immersed in it, as seems to be true for Tebow.

I would say the message here is two-fold.  First, that you should never give up on your passions.  Second, that you may have to keep trying and reinventing to get to your best.  Don’t give up because past success isn’t working in the present, instead, pick yourself up and try something else.

Passion for Health

As I’ve been thinking about the topic of health this past week I’ve also been thinking about the topic of passion.  Yes, some of us are passionate about our health for one reason or another, but often that passion looks like dedication or focus and not enjoyment.   This makes me sad, but it’s true.  Passion isn’t always about the feeling of joy that some of our passions bring us, sometimes it’s about being committed enough to see things through and do the work necessary on a daily basis.  So are you passionate about health?  Is health a joy for you or are you committed to making it happen?

Let’s start with the tough one: commitment.  Sometimes it’s necessary to be committed, even if you don’t really get a lot of pleasure out of it, for example you might not enjoy cooking but can’t afford to hire a personal chef or eat out every night, so you have to do the work of cutting the vegetables and cooking healthier meals.  That’s commitment even if you don’t enjoy the process a lot.   The good news is that often there’s a way to get a little joy out of it even if you’re already doing the commitment-passion.

What about the other one? When you truly enjoy what you’re doing it’s much easier, more fun and usually brings in better results.  Many people can choose healthy options that make them happy like biking instead of running or trading off with family members to prepare food.  The other way to have more joy is with an attitude adjustment.  That’s the harder way to health related joy, but if you can get there it opens up the world of healthy living to you.  With an open and positive attitude towards healthy living you’re not limited to the few things you are passionate-joyful about, you’re able to embrace even those that you are more passionate-committed about.

What challenges you most about healthy living and what kind of passion do you have towards it?

Reality Reflection: Shine Like a Star

The adventure in Rio has begun.  Whether you enjoy watching events like the Olympics or others like the World Series or Oscars (as well as local events of the same types), or not, there’s something awesome about people coming together and showing what they’ve got.  These special or culminating events include people from a specific group or from around the world who are the best of the best at the time.  It’s a way of showing what they can do as well as an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate what they can do.  I think these types of events are important because it’s important to celebrate the good, cool, and/or interesting things we can each do.  It’s a healthy way of pointing out and celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique.

I believe that God has given each of us special gifts and talents, and that it hurts Him when we don’t use what He has given us.  You don’t go to the store and buy stuff you don’t like or use, you only buy what you want and need.  The same is true with the gifts and talents we have: we should use them.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose and what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  It’s always good to take time to reflect on your life and what you’re doing because it means you can stop the derailments that may be happening and curb unhappiness before it becomes full blown depression or causes more problems than it needs to.

Take time to do a reality check on your life this week.  Are you unhappy?  If so, why?  Life is way too short to be stuck and unhappy.  Don’t be afraid of letting your gifts and talents shine.  Don’t worry too much about the criticisms you get for having and using your gifts and talents.  Don’t bury your gifts and talents because you don’t think you can make a living using them or that they’re not useful gifts.  Everyone has valuable gifts, it’s up to you to find out how best to use yours.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14, 16

Do You Feel Alive?

In talking about purpose one way of explaining it is knowing your “why.”  Why do you do the things you do? What’s your reason for getting up in the morning?  What do you get up on your soapbox about? What makes you mad? Why do you make the choices you do when you buy stuff? What do you want to be resolved or fixed most in the world? These are just a few of the questions you can consider when thinking about what your purpose and why in life are.

Our purpose is not just about how we can make a difference in the world, although that is a big part of it.  Our purpose is about feeling alive, having a reason to live and feeling that we have value and belong in the world.  That’s all stuff that matters most to us, not to others.  If you don’t feel a passion for life or a reason to live it will be much harder to fulfill your purpose.

If you don’t feel happy and fulfilled in your life take time this week to get in touch with yourself. Remember your why or discover a new one.  Talk with someone about how you can get more involved in a cause that you’re passionate about.  Do one small thing each day to contribute in a positive way to some part of the world.  Do things that matter to you, not just things that you have to do.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”  Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Make 2016 Your Year

Welcome to a new year! The year before us will be filled with lots of choices to make, people to meet, and opportunities to thrive. We’ll be faced with more choices than ever and in many ways that’s a good thing. It means that there are more ways than ever for us to stand out and be who we are without having to settle and fit into the box the world tries to fit us in. But it also means we’ll have to be more decisive than ever and more willing to stand up for what we want and what we believe is right. There’s no time like the present to stand up for ourselves, each other and the world we live in.

It’s my hope and prayer that you go into this year choosing to accept yourself, own up to your mistakes and failures, and choose to make empowering decisions each day that will allow you to love, thrive and grow in more ways than ever. Don’t let your past hold you back with fears and regrets, instead choose to move into the new year knowing that you were born with gifts and a purpose that when embraced is essential to the world becoming a better place.

Will 2016 be your year? Will you let this new year be the year you finally choose to love and accept yourself? Will it be the year when you finally move into all that you were born to be? Will you finally see the positive results of what you’ve been working on for the past few years? What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  Brené Brown

Inspiration for Success

Monday in the US we celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We take time every year to recognize the efforts and bravery of this man and the countless others who stood with him and demanded a better world and that we treat each other better. I love talking about Dr. King every year because not only was he a brave man with a passion for his dream, he did something that many have failed to do: create a large following of people as passionately invested in what he was pursuing as he was. This month we’ve been talking about being prepared and I believe we can learn a lot on this topic from Dr. King’s life and work.

Dr. King did many things well, starting with having a really great dream. Having a dream gave the need to improve the world for all people including people of color wings. It made the need something more than just a sterile set of goals or to-do’s and turned them into something that people could be passionately involved in. As I shared with my newsletter subscribers this weekend, when life is dull and boring we’re not exactly inclined to get things done. But when we’re inspired things seem to go very quickly.

The other key to Dr. King’s work was that he prepared his people to continue on without him. Even though I’m sure that had Dr. King lived longer the movement would have had even more success, Dr King prepared the people who worked with him to succeed without him. No, you never want to leave your dream in the hands of other people, but it’s a clear sign of success and his wisdom that not only was he able to prepare the people, but they were actually able to succeed without him.

What about you? Are you prepared for the next step in your life or are you just dreaming about it? Learn from the wise Dr. King and give your dream wings.

Remembering Maya Angelou

Last week another brave and amazing woman finished her journey on earth.  I will share thoughts on her and some of the things she’s said in future blog posts, but today I felt that the most appropriate way to honor Maya would be to share some of her words with you (if you have a favorite Maya Angelou quote that isn’t shared here I invite you to share it in the comments too).

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.”

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”

“What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”