Often, people - especially Changemakers like you, me, and our Marigolds - feel stressed about finding their passion, and when they can’t unlock it, it causes tons of anxiety. Elizabeth Gilbert changed her stance on the whole "Find your passion!" narrative. Instead, she now says: "Stop trying to follow your passion. Instead, explore your curiosity."
In this post we'll share a mini challenge to hone in your curiosities as well as a bonus strategy is to embrace boredom and how to use boredom to our advantage!
A Little Back Story
We planned on doing a mini-series around finding your passion until Joel couldn’t stop thinking about this phrase from Elizabeth Gilbert, “Stop trying to find your passion.”
Liz Gilbert is somebody who accurately portrays the story of the starving artist, waiting tables into her thirties, struggling to write the next great American novel. One day people fell in love with her work and she became a tremendous success. Now she lives happily ever after. Blah, blah, blah! She did it. You can too! The classic purpose-driven life shtick.
For years, Liz told that story on stage, driving home the message of how through everything, she never stopped writing, she never stopped pursuing her passion. For years, people welcomed her message with open arms. For years, she truly believed this was the formula for creative freedom. Until one day, that all shattered right in her face.
Elizabeth Gilbert, flew to the other side of the world to give a speech in Australia, where just like any other talk she ever gave, she would speak about her journey and her incessant belief that in writing Eat, Pray, Love she was following her passion to be a writer. After Liz delivered this speech however, she was surprised to receive a letter from a disgruntled fan that read something like this (and I am paraphrasing here):
I came to your talk so invigorated and ready to change my view of the world and my place within it. I sat in my chair, and I listened. And I listened. And I listened. I listened to you drag on about how you have to find your passion, and you have to do what you love, and you have to make that your one thing. And the worst part is, you spoke about it as if it were the easiest thing to do in this world!
Well, Liz, I am a very intelligent person, I have multiple degrees, and I am traditionally successful. However you want to define that word, I am confident enough to say that if there were something in my life that was so abundantly clear, that I was so enthralled by, something that you describe as a passion, then I would be smart enough to know what it was!
But I do not have one. I do not have a passion.
And, you know what, Liz? Walking away from your speech was actually the worst I have ever felt because it seemed like there was something wrong with me for not being able to understand the feeling that you were talking about on stage.
Searching for this passion has caused me more stress and anxiety than anything else in my life.
With a stinging message like this, Liz Gilbert decided to reevaluate what passion meant to her, and what it should mean in people’s lives — because she couldn’t help but agree. She now says: “Stop trying to follow your passion. Instead, explore your curiosity.”
How do I explore my curiosity?
Ultimately, it all comes down to three simple-enough challenges - three tasks - that we will encourage everyone to do. We’ll share one challenge a week in this 3-Part Series on Reclaiming Our Curiosity.
What kinds of articles, videos, or people grasp my attention?
Exploring your curiosity is about a simple head tilt. What topic do you hear about that moves your chin one inch to the side, makes your eyes squint, and tilts your head ever so slightly? What type of content reels you in so close to the screen or page that you are millimeters from banging your head?
Joking aside, this is curiosity. When something gives you this feeling, that you just want to lean in a little bit closer, dive a little bit deeper, learn a little bit more, this is when you have found something that truly piques your interest.
Record these curiosities in a journal and share them with a friend. The most important part of this challenge is just to begin noticing what is piquing your curiosity.
Tune in next week for challenge #2!
Bonus Strategy: Embrace Boredom
Boredom is really a PR problem. Is it that bad to be bored? Unless it’s a chronic state (which could be a symptom of depression - which you should take very seriously) the answer is no.
If we are bored, why not use it to our advantage? But to do so we have to change the way we perceive the word itself. We have to reframe the whole issue and view boredom as a vehicle for reflection and change. Sporadic boredom ought to be celebrated! Isn’t it fantastic that we can afford to get bored — that we don’t have to live in constant fear but that we can allow our minds to feel so at ease that boredom can grow?
Let’s not waste it or cover it up. What would happen to Plato, Socrates, and Nitschke if they constantly tried to swipe boredom away using their cell phones? Would Monet paint without daydreaming? Would Mozart create masterpieces if Youtube was available to remove any trace of restlessness?
In his book The Power of Boredom, Mark Hawkins refers to boredom as “the most powerful human emotion.” Take a moment to reflect on when and why you get bored. If you detect patterns, maybe it’s time to make some adjustments? But, by doing nothing- creativity, exploration, and introspective thought will begin to fill the space that Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram used to occupy.
It might sound funny to say or do but plan on getting bored this week. Maybe five minutes to walk without your phone. Maybe 10 minutes to sit outside and just think. Take the time to embrace boredom, reconnect with yourself, and see what you start to get curious about.
This is just part one of a three-part series. If you haven’t already tuned in, join us on The Marigold Force Podcast. I’ll be learning these strategies right alongside you as Joel is teaching. We’ll share our personal insight and hold each other accountable for action.