oil on canvas - January 2015
"A life lived without passion, is a life not lived at all".
A naturopath I visited the other day spoke this quote to me. He asked what I did for a living and as I replied, I momentarily freaked out that a person working in natural healing may not consider oil paints as a particularly healthy material to be using on a daily basis.
I assured him that I kept a low toxic, well ventilated studio, used no solvents and keep my hands as clean as possible...and though I was willing to get rid of coffee, wine, sugar, dairy, gluten and any other possible source of allergen in my life (baring my pets) I would not, I repeat, not give up my oil painting!
He assured me that I could keep my paints...and occasional red wine. Thank goodness.
His quote got me reflecting on passion, purpose and their benefits to our health.
Leading a passionless life, a life void of purpose and calling, can lead to loneliness, depression and low self-esteem. Health can be affected and compromised. Passion and purpose create happiness...happiness increases overall happy thoughts, moods, hormone release, stress relief, brain health, relationships and connections and a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings. This all leads to a decrease in the ability of our disease genes taking hold in our bodies.
This is not to say that by leading a life of passion and purpose, all your problems, heartaches and challenges will suddenly disappear...nope, but your joys, talents and dreams may give you some clarity to see how to make lemonade out of lemons.
Just to be perfectly clear, I am not talking about the kind of passion and purpose that Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Steve Jobs had to put them in the history books. That passion and purpose is awesome, but isn't for everyone... I'm talking smaller than that. I'm talking about what you enjoy during the moments allocated as your 'spare time'. Time beyond the work you have to do to keep life ticking along and to pay the bills; time beyond the job of motherhood or fatherhood, bread-winner or sole carer; time beyond putting food on the table; time beyond the inevitable basics of day-to-day life.
"But I don't have a passion or a purpose" I hear you sigh...let me assure you, we ALL have something that we love to do in our spare time, we just have to notice what it is that gives you that little feeling of satisfaction or tingle of enjoyment...whether that be painting, writing, dog walking, exercising, photography, baking, spending time with people. ANY of these things give you purpose and if they make you truly, deeply happy they are passion.
We do not have to change the world or be the best in the world to have a passion.
As soon as we constrain ourself with the notion that we have to be amazing, talented, 'the best', gifted, have 10,000 hours of practise to be any good, we are deceiving ourselves...we just have to like, love or find joy in what we do to fill in our spare time. Once you start regularly filling in spare time with joyful purpose, you will get better at whatever it is you are doing. My art is proof of this...every single time I pick up my paintbrush and push some paint around a canvas, I am one day better at it than I was the day before. That's why we often refer to our art as an 'art practise'. We practise and practise and practise...some of us every single day!
Running is another example, if you jog regularly enough...you will get fitter and better at running, regardless of whether you are destined for the olympics or just destined to get around the block. It's the law of physics!! If you enjoy running you will get better every single time you do it. My husband runs...he's is totally passionate about it, any exercise in fact. It makes him feel good and he fills every spare moment he can find training for marathons or triathlons or just for fun. It's his thing, his passion.
I'd rather pull out my eyelashes then run a marathon.
But I get it ( I didn't always, but I'm learning)...Run hubby run.
In turn, hubby realised many years ago, that for my well-being, I have to paint, create, take photos and always have a dog at my side. These are my passions. They give me purpose. (Hubby is very smart - Happy wife, happy life.)
And if you can take what you love to do in your spare time and eventually make it what you do full -time...all the better!
Just do it.
With no embarrassment, no preconceived notion that you must already be good at it, no concern with opinions.
Passion. Purpose. Are needed and necessary.
Our health depends on them.