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All things being equal, we love to do what we love and dislike doing what we don’t love. So how do we find our passions in life?
Although interests can be as varied as the millions of colors on a PC’s palette, it may take time to find and develop your true passions. If you’re really blessed, you’re not only interested in the job or work you perform, but you’re passionately tied to promoting good outcomes in some significant and meaningful area of life—you have a passion for something!
Interests can be fleeting; passions are more substantial. If you care deeply about something, and want to exert time, energy and effort toward it, you’ve found your passion. In today’s world, we’re lucky—we have plenty to be interested in, and plenty to be passionate about, too.
Beyond being simply interested, opportunities exist if one can afford the time and the energy to pursue them. Whether attending yoga, tai chi or gym classes, healthy living and exercise offer inner and outer benefits none can deny. Whether having your voice heard in small conference rooms or huge assemblies, we can all decide to participate in life, rather than playing the role of a couch potato or an observer from the sidelines. Whether you’re concerned about animals or children or the elderly or the civil and human rights of everyone, groups exist that would welcome your help and support.
That’s the marvel of today’s world: a huge array of choices for many of us to express ourselves using our own unique style and voice to add to the success of any endeavor.
So once you’ve found your passion, what comes next? Move on to the second step by doing your homework.
Just like those millions of colors on your PC’s palette, innumerable professions, endeavors and causes exist. We may spend four or five years and a hundred thousand dollars for a college to prepare us for a profession, or simply fall into a career by chance and the seat of our pants, but either way, given a fair chance and opportunity, we can make something of ourselves.
But any endeavor we undertake usually requires careful planning and preparation in order to succeed. So, too, does any passionate social cause we become a part of require immersion in its premises, ideals and actions before we can truly understand its big picture and goals.
Do you want to work for the good of humanity? Do you want to promote a civilized, orderly and peaceful society? Depending on where you live, local organizations can use your help. Your local library, the ASPCA shelter or the local food bank and homeless shelter all need volunteers. You can join the non-profit organizations that offer social, helpful programs to all classes of society and all kinds of people. On a regional or national level, tens of thousands of charities promote some social good, from curing disease, to changing unjust laws, to providing mother and infant care or old age care, and on and on.
With the internet, it shouldn’t be difficult to find out pertinent information on anything that inspires you to feel passionately about a cause. TheMuse.com lists 20 questions you can use to investigate before becoming involved in the workings of a socially redeeming effort.
The Baha’i teachings offer a simple test for deciding between what produces true unity, peace and security and what may not: do your efforts bear fruit?
Existence is like a tree, and man is the fruit. If the fruit be sweet and agreeable, all is well, but if it be bitter it were far better there were none. Every man who has known the celestial bestowals is verily a treasury; if he remain ignorant of them, his non-existence were better than his existence. The tree which does not bring forth fruit is fit only for the fire. Strive night and day to change men into fruitful trees, virgin forests into divine orchards and deserts into rose gardens of significance. Light these lamps, that the dark world may become illumined. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 110.
Once you’ve done your homework and tested the fruitfulness of your passions, met the people involved and seen the work they do, it’s time to commit and lend them a hand. It’s been said over and over again—nothing in this existence can satisfy more than easing someone else’s pain, or making another person feel happy or content. Whether it’s the skills you have to offer, your mere presence and time, or your energy and commitment, it will be appreciated by those you serve. Without a shadow of a doubt, you will also feel fulfilled.