Your Passion: It's As Close As the End of Your Nose
Sarah Susanka is an inspirational public speaker, spiritual teacher, acclaimed architect, and best-selling author of the nine-book Not So Big series.
1440: Why is it so important for us to listen to what inspires us?
Sarah: When we do something that we are passionate about, we are vastly more likely to be present in its doing. A lot of people get hung up on the idea: “I don’t know what my passion is, so I can’t do all these wonderful things that everybody else is doing.” You can.
It’s not that you have to have the passion in place before you can engage. Passion is just a pointer to an activity where you are most likely to be present in what you’re doing—to really be there simply because you love that thing and so you’re completely engaged. It’s really the being there that matters, not the passion itself.
I often tell people, “You could be cleaning bathrooms and be completely present in that and loving every moment of it.” Most of us don’t think of bathrooms in that way, but it’s absolutely possible! The word passion indicates a full engagement or wholeheartedness, the wholeheartedness of being in the moment of whatever is happening. You could say it’s more about the process of being in what’s happening than the specific content of what you’re doing.
1440: What if you don’t know what your passion is?
Sarah: It’s often something that you couldn’t get a job doing, so we frequently miss it because we’re thinking in terms of a job. I work with someone who is absolutely present for every conversation anyone has with her. She loves conversations and being connected through words, and she does it brilliantly. For a long time she would say, “Sarah, I don’t know what my passion is!” But you can see what it is when you’re there with her because she absolutely comes alive in those conversations. She lights up.
1440: So we are actually looking for a state of being as opposed to a vocation?
Sarah: That’s it. And the part of us that wants to find that state of being is actually in the way of us finding it. The part of your personality that is hunting for answers to questions like, “What’s my passion?” or “How can I be more present in what I’m doing?” is preventing you from being there. It’s really paradoxical, but that seeking is what’s obstructing what’s actually happening from coming into your awareness.
We each have a collection of ideas about ourselves and we’ve mistaken that for who we really are.
That part that wants to figure it out has to get out of the way so that true living can happen. It’s happening all the time, but the part that’s struggling to get it right or follow the rules or find somebody that can tell you what to do is actually in the way of just being here, so you don’t notice what’s right in front of you. We call it “nose-esitis.” It’s right at the end of your nose—it’s really hard to see, but it’s right there in front of you when you stop looking for it.
Sarah Susanka will be teaching The Not So Big Life from May 18 – 20, 2018, at 1440 Multiversity.