Keeping Passion Alive
Passion: A powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
When speaking of passion, I am not referring to that of a romantic nature. Instead, I am talking about passion born out of an intense enthusiasm for life, family, nature, work, etc. Anything which makes us feel alive, motivated, and excited. Passion is discovering what we love to do, what fills our lives with a sense of purpose, and then dedicating ourselves to pursue it.
Personally, I feel passionately about children, education, equality, justice, authenticity, art, nature, reading, and exploring the unknown.
Yet, many individuals (if not most, to some degree), have been struggling to maintain their passion for life. Let’s face it-these last six months have been taxing, between Covid, social isolation, job-loss, financial struggles, political and social upheaval, and a divisive country. The list is exhausting. Each one in itself is stressful. Together, they are simply overwhelming.
Beginning in March, it has remained a challenge to be excited, energetic, and passionate during life in this “alternate universe.” Personally, I have felt very demotivated. Many of us have been grieving the temporary (I hope) death of life as once knew it. Prolonged stress negatively impacts our mood and may ‘zap’ our energy and motivation. Indeed, navigating this ‘new world,’ takes a lot of energy.
I recently read an article by Arianna Galligher, associate director of Ohio State University’s Stress, Trauma, and Resilience Program (STAR). In my opinion, she sums up the situation perfectly.
It's not only the pandemic. Americans are facing economic distress and racial injustice, too. Most of us are equipped to manage one crisis or maybe a couple of crises simultaneously, but when everything is sort of coming to a head all at once, there comes a point where our typical means of coping becomes overwhelmed, and the result is crisis fatigue.
While crisis fatigue is not an official diagnosis, its effects are real. People can feel so overwhelmed that they’re unsure of how to move forward, she says.
When people have crisis fatigue, it’s natural for them to feel a mixture of exhaustion, rage, disgust, despair, desperation, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and grief.
Which, in turn, leads to a loss of energy and, motivation, and passion in our lives. For months I’ve felt lost in a world awash with crises. I’ve been struggling to regain my enthusiasm, to once again, reignite my passion. Honestly, I haven’t been very successful. Yet, last week, Michelle Obama’s DNC speech, followed by a video from my daughter, brought me out of my ‘funk.’
I have always been drawn to Michelle Obama’s authenticity, positive spirit, energy, and above all, passion. Yet, the Former First Lady recently admitted that she is, “Suffering from a "low-grade depression due to the pandemic, race relations in the US, and the political strife surrounding it all. I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness. I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low”.
Obama’s speech was not particularly upbeat. How could it be, given this crazy world we are currently inhabiting? At times she sighed and looked as if she might shed a tear. However, it was filled with undeniable emotion and passion. Her ‘fire’ was back. She was 110% the energetic, focused, impassioned woman I knew. Her enthusiasm sparked mine.
Another, completely unrelated event also inspired me. My daughter sent me a video of my 2 ½ year old granddaughter (who is passionate about music) dancing. It’s a stretch to call it actual dancing.
Seinfeld is my favorite comedy show of all time. One particularly classic episode (Titled “The Little Kicks”), features the character Elaine Benes’ (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) doing her signature dance moves. Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) and George (Jason Alexander) alternatively describe her dancing style as, “Her spaz dance”, and “It’s like a full-body dry heave set to music.”
Like Elaine, my granddaughter really gets into her music. She jerks, twirls, jumps, kicks, and shimmies. It’s adorable and highly entertaining. This toddler definitely feels the rhythm. Watching this video made me laugh. More importantly, her passion inspired me to reclaim mine.
We may be overwhelmed by political, health, and cultural crises, with no immediate end in sight. Yet, we have to actively decide to find joy, or at least make an effort to. If we make this an active practice, perhaps we can rekindle our passion, our joy, and zest for life.