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Passion and curiosity

“You need to find something you’re passionate about and do that.”
“What legacy are you going to leave?”
“You’re older now, why haven’t you figured it out yet?”
“What are you doing with your life?”
“Set better goals for yourself”

Many people are not born with just one thing that they’re passionate about. Some are made a little differently. They have a diverse range of interests and also tend to move from one to the next.

They try a little bit of this and discover it’s not really their thing, and then move on to the next thing. The aim is not a destination – an ultimate discovery that will prove to be the one thing they’ve been looking for their whole lives, and when it’s found, that is their purpose. This idea is romantic and lures people away from their natural tendency to explore life.

The problem with passion

When people become passionate about something, they give everything they have to it. Their time, money, energy, focus and even sanity. Passion like a fire, it needs to be constantly tended to or else it will die out. And sometimes it does because the energy to sustain it is exhausting. What’s left is reality.

The alternative – a Hummingbird and a Jackhammer

In a public presentation, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray Love) shared a letter she received from a very upset fan. The letter was in reference to a powerful talk she gave about passion and why it is so important to have one.

The letter read as follows, “I have never felt worse about myself than what I do after listening to your talk”, the letter read. “I am in my early 50’s now and have worked very hard and given everything I have to find what my life’s passion is, and I’m sad to say that I do not have one. I have never felt more of a failure than I do right now.”

After receiving that, Elizabeth scrapped all her content and produced an “anti-passion” campaign. She tells a beautiful story about a hummingbird and a jackhammer.

Those who have a burning passion for something are like the jackhammers. They put their heads down, work hard, invest a lot of energy, time and focus into it and tend to make a lot of noise whilst doing so.

Then there are the hummingbirds. They flit around from flower to flower and from field to field sipping the nectar from different types of floras. They don’t favour one flower over another; instead, they enjoy all the varieties. They are curious creatures and therefore often lead rich and wonderful lives because of their vast experiences, interesting journeys and a wide range of skills.

Curiosity opens the doors for new possibilities.

Unlike passion, curiosity doesn’t have a price tag. It is free, honest, pure and available to everyone at any time. Not only is it a great quality to possess, but research has also proven that it has some amazing benefits. It is also one of the three key predictors of academic achievement.

In a study published in 2013 through George Mason University, it was suggested that curious people tend to be:

  • more tolerant of anxiety
  • humorous and playful
  • emotionally expressive
  • non-defensive
  • non-critical.

Curiosity appears to be a force within us that not only enhances learning but opens us up to more positive perspectives and experiences.

According to another study done in 2014 through the Centre for Neuroscience, University of California, our brain chemistry actually changes when we become curious, which helps us to learn and remember information.

Whether you are a determined jackhammer or a curious hummingbird, don’t let mere labels hinder you from living an extraordinary life.

And maybe while you follow your curiosities you will eventually discover your passion.

Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…” – Elizabeth Gilbert