What makes you come alive? You know what I’m talking about. When a particular subject comes up, you become animated. Your pulse increases. Your eyes light up. Your speech becomes dynamic and dramatic. People see that something matters when they look in your eyes and hear your voice.
You can’t hide passion.
One of the most important things I’ve ever heard anyone say is this: Listen to your own life.
This is not psychobabble. You need to pay attention to what lights you up. It is a clue to what you should probably do in life to put your own dent in the universe. Passionate people are far more effective than the complacent and bored. Passionate people make better art, better commerce, better lovers. And they’re far more interesting than a thousand people merely getting by, content with mediocrity and playing it safe.
I had a conversation with a young man some time ago. He is very near and dear to our family. As he began talking about his love of wildlife and animals, he got very excited. I told him, “Pay attention to yourself. Do you hear your own voice?”
We are each given different gifts, callings and interests. You can still the voice of these deposits through fear. What will my friends think if I want to play the cello? Can I make a living as a writer? Do I really want to be a politician—people don’t trust them because they all lie, right? Listening to these voices will slowly kill something inside you.
The problem is this: If you stifle who you are and what you are called to do, it will inevitably emerge in a number of different ways, either 1) in inferior forms–like settling for being a technical writer when you’re really a novelist–or 2) in toxic forms. The depression and frustration that accompany the unfulfilled destiny, like buried nuclear waste, will poison the water table of your life. And when that happens, you will seek to medicate and mask that pain and discontent with all sorts of unhealthy stuff. Believe me, I’ve been there.
The next time you find yourself getting excited about some pursuit—creative, vocational or social—pay attention. Note your own body language. It doesn’t lie. If you’re near a mirror, take a look. What you see is a clue. A clue to fulfilling your destiny.
Life’s too short to settle for getting by. You are here for a purpose. Listen to your life, lock on and pursue.
You and the world will be better for it.