Finding your calling — your life passion — is about tapping into your bliss, to bring your potential into the world and live life to the fullest
Passion is the fuel that inspires us to wake up in the morning. Discovering and claiming your passion is about knowing what you love doing. Acknowledging this can have a powerful effect on your life. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, then it might be time to reevaluate and recalibrate your life towards what would help you experience the most joy. When you’re at a crossroads in your life, you might stop to ask yourself about your overall purpose and destiny and how to discover what that is.
When you’ve identified a life passion, you’re led to feelings of bliss — the natural direction to take in order to maximize your sense of fulfillment. Bliss is a more powerful word than happiness.
Sometimes people equate bliss with being in a state of euphoria, but in reality, it’s about learning what brings you joy.
This concept is often connected to what you were meant to do with your life, or your calling.
Some people know from an early age what they want to do when they grow up, while others might flounder as they try to find their callings. There are different terms to explain the idea of a calling in life. The Romans called it genius, the Greeks called it the daimon, and the Christians called it the guardian angel. Psychologist James Hillman used even more words to describe one’s sense of calling, such as fate, character, image, soul, and destiny, depending upon the context.
Mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell coined the phrase “Follow your bliss,” which is another way of saying to follow your heart or listen to your authentic inner voice, which is present in the best writing.
Finding your bliss or your calling is about bringing into your life all those things that bring out your potential and help you live your life to the fullest. It’s also about ridding yourself of habits, situations, and relationships that no longer serve you, and replace them with those that do.
Once you open your eyes and are aware of your bliss, opportunities begin to emerge because the universe hears your desires.
For years, I’ve known that my bliss revolved around writing. I knew this because whenever people asked me when I felt my best, I always responded by saying, “When I’m writing.” This is true whether I’m crafting poems, blogs, essays, or books. For me, joy emerges when I’m writing. As I put pen to paper, there are higher forces that speak to me, and sometimes I enter a trance — I transcend universes where the deepest of creative forces are at play.
Sometimes life passions are established early in life and might be in response to childhood experiences. Perhaps the experience was a joyful one; or maybe it was related to trauma or pain as a result of loss, abandonment, being orphaned, or being severely hurt physically or emotionally. Not everybody responds to challenging situations in the same way. It is not so much the experiences you had that matter, but how you reacted to them and the effect they had on your life. If you had a disharmonious past, perhaps you’ve drawn meaning from your lived experiences and have decided to help others navigate similar paths.
My life provides a good example. I was raised in the 1960s in New York. My parents were immigrants and worked two jobs. My maternal grandmother lived with us and was my caretaker. When I was ten, she took her life in her bedroom, which was next to mine, and I was the one who found her. Years later, I learned that she was tormented by the demons of her past and by being orphaned during World War I.
My mother was dealing with her own grief and wasn’t quite sure how to help me cope with this tragedy. As a journal keeper herself, she bought me a Kahlil Gibran journal and told me to write down my feelings. I’d sit for hours in my walk-in closet, clothes hanging above my head, pouring my heart and grief onto the journal’s pages.
This experience taught me two things: that writing heals, and that our early childhood rituals and hobbies can be a clue to our capacity for joy later in life.
Little did my mother know that her seemingly benign gesture of buying me a journal would be the springboard for my life as a writer. In fact, receiving that journal was a pivotal moment for me, as I realized that when I was writing, my heart was singing. That’s how I knew that writing was a career path for me.
Now, more than five decades later, my journal continues to be a place where I go to share my innermost sentiments and feelings. It is my confidant and best friend. Journaling about losing my grandmother transitioned into journaling about my turbulent teen years, raising a difficult daughter, and two cancer diagnoses.
In many ways, I believe that our childhoods hold the keys to our life passions and who we become as adults.
When people remark that they’re unhappy and feeling somewhat lost, I typically ask them, “What brought you joy or bliss as a child?” They’re often surprised to be asked this question, and it’s interesting to watch smiles spread across their faces. As they stop to reflect, I ask them whether they’ve ever thought of revisiting their childhood passions. Inevitably, they say, “I haven’t thought about that in so long.” That’s when I suggest that they write about what gave them joy back then and see what unfolds on the page — perhaps some juicy revelations or illuminations.
In many ways, my mother was my first and longest-living muse. She provided me, through her narcissistic and eccentric life, with endless stories and inspiration. Perhaps my disappointment with her as a mother sparked my need to create. Because my parents worked long hours, they weren’t always available to me, and having a daily connection with a loved one became even more difficult after my grandmother died. I was often left to my own devices, so I retreated to my journal — my loving companion and only ‘sibling’.
My mother, in her role as my muse, gave me another very important gift. Twice a month after school she’d drive me to the local library in her light-blue VW station wagon. She’d walk me to the children’s section and tell me to choose as many books as I wanted. My favorite ones were the true-life stories or biographies about real people doing real things. Some of my favorites were Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, Abigail Adams, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, and John Hancock, to name a few. I would arrive at the checkout desk with books piled up to my chin, and my mother would smile in approval as she pulled out her red wallet to hand over my very own library card. The librarian would smile at us as we walked out the glass doors to the car.
To determine where your bliss may lie, sometimes it’s a good idea to look back to your childhood and think about those times when you received praise and encouragement since children’s passions are reinforced by the adults around them. As a child, I was inspired to read and write; in school and at home, I received accolades for my writing. Having my creative spark nurtured early on encouraged me to write even more. Now, as a parent to three adult children and four grandchildren, I’m constantly noticing what brings them joy. I wonder how it will translate into their lives as a whole.
When you tap into your passions, you feel as if you’re in the flow of life, which leads to a sense of harmony.
During my teen years in the 1960s, people used to say, “Man, he’s got his head together,” which meant that the person was really doing what he was meant to do. This type of inner congruence results in a profound inner strength and sense of serenity.
While in the discovery process of examining what matters most to you, you might notice untapped talents and desires. Sometimes, when you look closely at such matters, you can also come face-to-face with angst, confusion, and concerns that inspire you to dig deeper into your soul’s quest. Whatever the case, writing is a productive way to tap into the answers to these probing questions.
During my doctorate program in psychology, I studied the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing. It was interesting for me to learn how pivotal moments in the lives of the writers I interviewed inspired them to write their first memoirs. My research also examined the impact of transformative moments that affect whom we become. The results were fascinating. During the process of interviewing five esteemed writers, they admitted to me that early pivotal experiences not only inspired them to become writers but were also clues to their life themes and passions.
When I studied psychology in graduate school, I learned that those who are deeply passionate about something have an urgent need to make a change in the world or to serve humanity. They’re possessed by their passion.
Mine was teaching others through writing.
Many people who sign up for my journaling and memoir workshops are in some sort of life transition or are at a moment on their paths where they’re unsure of what they want to do with themselves. One of the first prompts I give participants is to write about important memories from their childhoods. Most often they write about life-changing events. The second prompt is to write about what brought them joy as a child. Sometimes, but not always, this sense of joy is connected to what might bring them happiness as an adult. For many people, a lived experience from childhood serves as a springboard for a life passion, profession, or theme. Certainly, this was the case for me.
To make your heart sing, here are some ways to discover your passion:
- Think about what your natural talents are, or what you love to do.
- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals whose ideas and passions resonate with you.
- Be mindful about what annoys you and what makes you happy, and those activities or environments that energize you and lift your spirit.
- Think about an activity where you lose track of time; chances are it’s connected with a passion.
- Maintain a clear and open emotional state by engaging in self-care through meditation, exercise, spending time in nature, and setting clear intentions.
- Think about your favorite movies and books and the common threads that run through each.
You may also enjoy reading Living a Higher Vibration for Better Health and Greater Purpose by Sam Glory