1. Pay Attention To Your Life.
When was the last time you actually thought about everything you did in a day after it was over? So many of us are in a hurry to put the day behind us when it’s over. We just want it all to be over and done with. We want to rush to the next day, or the next week, all along hoping that things will improve. All along impatiently waiting for our next weekend or our next vacation.
We run through the same old habits and rituals day after day - hardly paying attention to what we’re doing. How many of us have experienced that feeling of getting to your destination not even remembering the drive? When we live on autopilot we shut down our senses. We shut down our ability to fully experience life. I don’t know about you, but not remembering how I got to my destination is not a fun feeling. It’s kind of scary. It’s a signal that I’ve been completely out of touch with the moment - too caught up in my thoughts and my concerns to actually experience my existence.
How can we expect to know what we love about life if we don’t even take the time to notice the world around us? How can we expect to be excited about living or decisive with our actions when we can hardly pay attention to the things we’re engaged in? It’s simple. We can’t. Living on autopilot is an easy way to feel like you missed out on the last ten years of your life.
We’ve got to begin paying attention. We have to take time to notice where we are. We have to practice being fully present. And we also need to accept that we’re not always going to pay attention perfectly. That’s okay. All we need to do is become aware of the fact that our attention occasionally drifts. Once we are aware of the drift, we can bring ourselves back to the present moment. Grounding ourselves by paying attention to our senses - what you’re seeing or smelling, tasting or touching or hearing. Bringing our attention back to the fact that we are breathing - feeling our lungs expand and contract. And smiling with gratitude knowing that we are fully alive.
2. Pay Attention To How You Feel.
We can take paying attention to a new level with this one. It’s wonderful to pay attention to the world around us. In fact it can really lower stress levels and help our ability to focus by practicing mindfulness. But… in order to find your passions and discover what you truly love, you have to let yourself FEEL things. How will you ever know what you love if you shut off feelings of joy and excitement and appreciation? Being aware of how you feel about people, plans, jobs, entertainment or anything else you encounter is a key aspect of discovering passion.
If you begin to shift your perspective from “I’m doing this activity because I have to,” and instead approach each activity with a mindset open to opportunities, you’ll be surprised by what you find. What if before everything you did you told yourself that you were doing it to figure out how you felt about it. Not whether you liked the activity or not, but how you actually felt about doing the thing!
What’s the difference between these two approaches? Asking yourself whether you like something or not is letting yourself off of the hook. You’ll say yes or no and you’ll immediately decide 1. To never to it again; 2. To do it again but be really upset every time you do it; 3. To do it again because you enjoyed it… 4. To feel indifferent about it and completely forget that this activity exists.
If you ask yourself how you FELT about doing the activity, you open yourself up to a wide range of emotions and reactions. You allow yourself to explore a much more complex experience. And when you explore how you feel, you can take bits and pieces of those feelings and apply them to future situations in your life. What happens if you ask a friend whether they liked a particular restaurant or not. They’ll say yes or no, they might give you a reason or two… and then they’ll probably move on. But if you ask your friend what they thought about eating at the restaurant, they’ll give you much more information. They’ll probably even expand their answer to include what happened on the way to the restaurant, who they went with, what the wait time was, how much they enjoyed the ambiance, how their server conducted themselves, and how the food tasted. They’re telling you about the experience, they're telling you a story, and their basing their reactions on actual evidence. When we do this in our own lives, we get a much more expansive and accurate view of what we want for ourselves and why we want these things.
3. Put Yourself First.
Stop thinking about other people so much. Seriously. This will skew your ability to find your passion… keyword there being YOUR passion. It’s not about anyone else.
Sure… be educated about your endeavors… do research… have mentors. I’m not saying those things don’t matter. I am, however, saying that those things matter less than your reactions to those things matter.
Put yourself first. If you hate numbers and offices, please don’t be an accountant just because your mentor told you that it’s a stable and secure way to make money. Combine your reactions to the world with the information you receive from other people and weigh those things against your personality and preferences.
Walk through the world looking at things truly through your eyes. Allow your perspective to take center stage, and then listen to yourself. Trust yourself. Bet on yourself.
4. Take Pride In Your Unique Skills and Accomplishments.
What have you done in your life that you’re proud of? What have you done in your life that has made you feel more like yourself? You don’t have to think on a huge scale here… we can be talking about things as simple as washing dishes or painting your toenails. What do you love to do? What do you do well? What have you been able to do on a consistent basis that makes you feel excited?
Take time to date yourself - get to know who you are… apart from reaching goals and executing action plans. Get to know yourself as if you were falling in love. When you let yourself love who you are - all of your quirks and imperfections included - you can really open up to exploring what you might be passionate about. With everything on the table, you’ll know what you gravitate towards without having to take years going through trial and error. Know yourself and all else seems simple.
5. Write It All Down and Reflect.
We’ve covered a lot of approaches to finding out what you’re passionate about so far. And I’m sure you can imagine how challenging it can be to hold all of this information in your mind. I can’t even figure out what I’m supposed to get from Target without making some kind of list. I’ll walk into the store and my intentions become a distant memory as I walk through the books and electronics section drooling ;) .
What I’m saying is… our brains are already overloaded, and the world asks for our attention constantly. If we’re not writing things down, we’re probably going to forget them. And even if we don’t forget something completely… we might not remember it in as much detail when we’re trying to recall a fact two days later.
This is how writing and journaling saved my life. It gave me a place to tell my story from my perspective without any distracting input or judgment. It gave me an opportunity to examine my emotions and express my feelings about the world around me. And it let me really uncover what I truly wanted from life… I was able to hold conversations with my self that felt like I could access my soul. And I’ve been changed by my writing time and time again… so often and so radically that I wanted everyone to be able to experience the power of journaling.
If you want to find clarity, purpose, and acceptance in your life while getting to know yourself on a new level, The Love My Life Journal: 365 Days of Self-Love and Mindfulness will be your new best friend! It's designed to ask you the questions that will open up your perspective and help you uncover things about yourself that you might not have realized before.
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