Oh, finally!  After beaucoup years of nonsense about “finding your passion” and “following your bliss,” people of influence are finally telling us more ordinary sorts a better truth.

Passion is not a path.  Passion is not a guidepost.  Passion is really not a will-o-the-wisp phosphorescent light that dances ahead of you and maybe leads you into a bog or something.

Passion is a feeling.  It comes, it goes, it morphs, it grows.  And, more than anything (like every other human feeling), passion is a go-juice you can use to make your moves in the world.


For years now “passion” has been a word that postmodern pop self-help psychologies and the human resource contingent have embraced.

Running with it, they have been dragging the lot of us all over the landscape looking for that special source of personal motivation that will spark up a certain intensity of feeling that will somehow give extraordinary meaning to our existence as we know it.

“Passion” by peaceful-jp-scenery via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
It’s sort of ironic when you consider that the word itself comes to us from a Greek word that actually means “to suffer” and “to be acted on” that morphed into the Late Latin (chiefly Christian) word passio, “passion or suffering.”

It makes more sense when you understand that at one time “suffer” used to just mean “to undergo.”

It’s interesting to note that the ordeal that Jesus the Christ went through during his last days on earth (leading up to and beyond his crucifixion and then resurrection) was dubbed as the “passion of Christ” in early Latin translations of the Bible beginning in the 2nd century CE.

“It is Finished” by abcdz2000 via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Over time a lot of other meanings (both secular and sometimes downright sexual) got dumped on the poor word and “passion” became a lot more nuanced.  By the 13th century, the word “passion” was used to refer to any strong emotion.

Poets kept playing with the word until, by the end of the 16th century “passion” came to signify some uncontrollable emotion like rage or a strong sexual attraction or deep love.

Poetic passion involves a lot of trauma and drama and make the best kinds of stories that you really don’t want to have to live through.  Many popular writers and poets down through the centuries sure had a lot of fun with it.

“NYC – Central Park: Romeo & Juliet by Wally Gobetz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] | Sculpture by Milton Hebald, 1977
Nowadays in our everyday world the word and the concepts surrounding it seem to have gotten more than a bit hackneyed.  It’s gone amorphous and bland.  For some, it has even become synonymous with “disappointment” and “disillusionment.”

“lost” by anjan58 via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]


These days we are assured by many self-help mavens and other celebrities offering a profundity of life-advice (mostly in graduation and other motivational speeches) that if we look hard enough we’re supposed to be able to find this “passion” thing somehow.

For years now they’ve been telling us that if we do find some passion or other and then pour it into the work we do in the world then the world will make a stellar sort of sense, our ducks will all line up, and our lives will go along swimmingly ever more.

Yeah, right.

We are further assured that mixing in passion with our work would rev up our disengaged and limping motivational engines and miraculously fix our unproductive “bad” attitudes post-haste.

Mostly it did not quite work out that way.

For one thing, passion isn’t a something that you “find.”  It’s already there in you (or it’s not).

However, where the passion “promise” really went wonky was when the human resources contingent got ahold of it and started beating us over the head with the thing.

They tend to quote some fake Confucius thing: “Do the work you love and you will never work again.”

Ummm…guys, for real, there are jobs that need to be done that nobody can love.  They still have to be done and somebody’s gotta do them.  And, sometimes, that somebody is you.

“Drying cow dung” by David Stanley via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Even the work you love is going to have boring parts and parts that frustrate you and other parts that are just plain unsatisfactory.

Deeply held passions do help you find grand directions to explore and passion can help you get through the parts that suck.  What it doesn’t do is magically make the suck go away.

“Fuel” by Thomas Hawk via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
The passion promise can even be a downer if you’re doing work you love and you hit a bumpy place.  If you’re expecting smooth sailing just because you’re doing the work you love, you may be blindsided by perfectly normal pitfalls and potholes in your chosen road.

Even worse, you may get some nasty shocks when you reach the top of your beloved mountain and can see all the other higher mountains to be conquered in the distance.



Myself, I’ve always tended to follow the poets.  I believe their take on the word “passion” – that it is a deeply felt emotion as well as a source of turmoil, chaos, and change — is more right than not.

I also believe the smarty pants who’ve studied such things and say that all of our very human emotions are the most readily available kinds of fuel we can access for moving our butts around in this old world.

Because of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that passion its-own-self is like high-grade fuel.  In my world, passion is just another kind of “go-juice.”

“Quasar Tsunamis Rip Across Galaxies” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Renowned life-coach Mel Robbins agrees.  Here’s her 2020 YouTube video, “Why ‘Find Your Passion’ Is Terrible Advice.”

Robbins’ most important takeaway is this: “Passion is the energy that you bring to everything that you do.”  It’s not what you do; it’s HOW you do it.

It makes sense, that.

As far as I can tell, in order to develop your own personal mana and refine your power of agency and your ability to just do stuff that’s focused on making your dreams come real you probably need to have a large holding capacity for passion (and even that can be grown).

Some folks come into the world with huge reservoirs of passion and have intense emotions and feelings just oozing out of them; other people, not so much.

“Practice” by CaptCuervo via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Some people who often become the recognized visionaries among us develop their capacity to hold all kinds of passions to a very high degree.

(Those who we may consider “mad” are more likely to be wannabe visionaries who fail to focus or control their accumulated cache of passions, but that’s another story.)

Recognized visionaries of various sorts in more recent times have pointed out how passions can, indeed, fuel our own makings.

Harriet Tubman once told us, “Every great dream starts with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela pointed out, “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Steve Jobs once said, “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.  If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.

The caveat to all that is the one about not letting your passions push you around in directions you really don’t want to go.  As Ben Franklin once advised, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.”

Old Ben (a.k.a. The Pragmatic One) did have a point.  Passion can be an inflammable and most destructive thing.  (Just ask the poets and the storytellers.)

The trick, if you’re going to follow Old Ben’s advice, is not to let reason dampen down and smother the fire it helps you generate.  (You don’t want to run out of steam, ya know.)

“Kindling” by jev55 via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]


The cool part in all this passion stuff is that you can develop a passion for anything by concentrating your attention on some fascinating-to-you bit of the world or other.  The feeling of passion is often compounded by your stores of knowledge and the insights and understandings you’ve collected.

“Passion” by Salvatore D’Oro via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Passion grows and is fed by your curiosity.  Passion expands when you do things as you follow where your curiosity leads you.

One resource you might like to keep on your bookshelf to explore is the 2017 book, MINDSHIFT:  Break through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, by educator, writer and engineer Barbara Oakley.

Oakley is the creator of what’s touted as the most popular massive open online course (MOOC) in the world, Learning How to Learn,” which she has taught for years alongside legendary neuroscientist Terrence Sejnowski.

Click the button below to learn more about their Coursera class:


You don’t have to “find your passion.”  You just need to grow one.  You can even grow more than one.  In fact, you can grow as many as you can hold.

Combining a number of passions that you hold can help you realize some dream or other or advance a cause that you believe in and then the world is gifted with some new thing that helps the people all around you live better lives.


Author and vlogger Simon Sinek has an interesting take on passion.  In his 2020 video, “Where Passion Comes From,” he points out that most of us ordinary sorts are not particularly good at being the kind of visionary who can come up with a clear, realistic and credible vision that impacts the whole world.

“Pointing the way” by Trevor Dobson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
We don’t have to be.

We mostly do know the kind of world we’d like to live in and we can choose to help make that one more real in the place and the time where we are.

What could be better than living in a neighborhood that has all the things and people you like?

If we want to grow our passion, Sinek says, all we have to do is go look for and find somebody else’s vision that resonates with us and then use our innate talents and the skillsets we’ve developed in our lives to help make that future world come real.


Here’s a poem:


The wise guys

They all say

Life’s a dream,

No more than

A glimmering gleam.


In an instant

It can vanish

Like some phantom

Shadow flickering past

Your eyes’ corners.


This one dies,

That one leaves,

The other one

Loses his way.

The plot thickens.


This game lost,

That one shattered,

The other one

Scattered like chaff.

Where’s the wheat?


This treasure snatched,

That one ruined,

The other one

Null and void.

It’s all gone.


A lifetime built

Around small passions

Melts away in

The acid of

More empty space.


And your heart

Again breaks open,

One more time,

The pieces piercing

Through the veils.


And you sit

And pick up

All the pieces

As you wonder

About the sequel.


They tell me

Passions help you

Move the world.

And help to

Make it sparkle.


Seems to me

Passions just help

You figure out

How to get

Yourself to Next.


Is it good?

Is it bad?

It isn’t indifferent….

Life keeps calling.

What’s your answer?

By Netta Kanoho

Header Photo Credit: “Passion Spring” by Nathalie via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.


  1. angelce903 says:

    I find interesting that the word passion includes an element of suffering and happiness as well. I would say that passion is what makes life interesting and exciting. 

    When you are passionate by your work, indeed, it seems that you don’t work at all. As for me, writing is my passion. So when I work in it, it seems that I don’t work at all. And money is coming through and through!

    1. Lovely, angelce903!  I do agree that passion does make life interesting and exciting.  That’s one of the best of the bennies passion has to offer.  

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Please do come again….

  2. This article was so beautifully written. Everything just flowed together and was like music to all my senses. Passion is such a huge tool to use in your life to get you through the hard times and push you through to your goals. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    How do you push through your difficult times when passion is low?

    1. Kirstie, I am so glad you enjoyed the post.  As a poet, I try to fashion an “experience” for my readers.  It’s a heck of a lot more fun than just blah-blah-bladdadee-blah-blah.

      Your question is a good one.  I look at passion as fuel that is love-powered.  When my vehicle (body, car, or whatever else I’m using) gets wonky because it’s low on fuel, I stop and get it topped up again.  I try not to push this off as a waste of time because it is not.  No fuel, no smooth running.

      When I’m dragging, I know it’s time to refuel.  I tend to head for something beautiful (a place, a person, or some experience) that I know will help to fill up my tank again.  Sometimes it’s as simple as watching the sun rise, noticing what the night sky is doing, talking and laughing with a friend, eating some awesome bean soup that loving hands prepared, playing in the garden, or reading a warm and fuzzy book.

      I tend to my body and make sure I am comfortable in my own skin.  I notice when my belly is growling.  I notice when my eyeballs get square and the world starts turning dark and full of edges.  I notice when I’m taking a nap on my pile of paperwork.  

      Passion feeds on doing, but it also feeds on feelings and other body-things.  That’s cool because those are the most readily available resources in my world, I say.

      Thanks for asking!

      Please do come again.

  3. Parameter says:

    The thought of aligning your passion with your work is one that I have never trusted. I do not see how to turn my passion into a money-spinning machine.

    I agree with you that you can develop an interest in anything. Learn and master the act and turn it into a money spinning machine. It is the exact thing I did with electrical engineering.

    1. It’s a funny thing, Parameter.  What I find is that the things I am passionate about — learning to connect with others, learning how to be a better communicator, and discovering how to best facilitate smooth-running for myself and for others — tend to add a lot of richness, nuances and meanings to my life.

      For me, at least, “wealth” is never just limited to money.  

      Please do come again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)