What Breaks Your Heart? The Sure-Fire Way to Find Your Passion
This article is from February 02, 2013. I've updated / edited it lightly for relevance purposes. To both my oldest and newest readers, I invite you to ask yourself this beautiful question.
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To spend our lives doing what we love: how could a simple concept be so beautiful and so difficult at the same time?
During my time writing and speaking to this community of life adventurers all seeking to have an awesome life, I’ve encountered one huge problem:
Finding your "passion" is like catching a fish with your bare hands—it feels impossible to accomplish, like only a super skilled few are able to do it.
Last week, I read an article that tore me to pieces. It provides what may be the one solution to help people find their "passion" in a way that is dear and close to their heart.
In the article, Umair Haque shares the following:
“What is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north—and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense … enduring, tempestuous passion.”
After reading this, I wondered if it could really be this simple. Could our passions really be hiding within what breaks our hearts about the world? But I think Haque is right:
Passion is our heartbreak transformed into positive action.
How Heartbreak Defines Your Passion
If you're anything like most people, identifying exactly what you’d enjoy doing for the rest of your life isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, you want more freedom and a perhaps cooler job—but you aren’t sure exactly how to go about making that happen.
Here's how heartbreak can help:
You find it interesting. When something truly breaks your heart, there is no doubt that you find it compelling enough to hang around it for long periods of time.
You want to fix it. If it hurts you enough, you yearn to find a way to change it.
It matches what’s inside you to what’s outside you. The world out there needs what you’ve got. The fact that you feel heartbreak means you have the desire and motivation to change things for the better.
You know what you need to do. Once you've identified the way to fix something that breaks your heart, you'll learn the skills to get it done.
Your passion is what moves you—and what pisses you off and breaks your heart is the first step in that direction.
Is this something that could help you discover what you’re meant to do?
My Own Heartbreak
Over the years, I’ve gone through so many phases of heartbreak and so many versions of “finding my passion.” During my my TEDx talk in 2012, I predicted that what I was passionate about the time would change within a few months. Not only did I change course just a few months after giving that talk, I continue changing course to this day.
What breaks my heart is influenced by what I'm going through at the moment.
Back in 2012, I didn't care so much about the creative process or spirituality. I was all caught up in the entrepreneurial struggle. I certainly didn't care so much about anything relating to children or parenting or motherhood. I simply wasn't there yet.
As my passion fluctuates, I stay open to exploring it.
Here's an example:
Right now, what breaks my heart is how the ego causes us so much preventable suffering. If everyone just knew how much mindfulness and letting go of the ego could help them, we'd all feel less angry, resentment, anxiety, and fear. I'm exploring that by writing here on this blog and writing a series called Mindfulness for Makers. I'm going to continue exploring by (I think?) launching a podcast tentatively titled Practice.
[Editor’s note: The podcast ended up being called Kin.]
At the moment, it's what worries me and gets me fired up. If we hung out in person, this is what I'd rattle on and on.
Heartbreak — What This Means For You
In my experience, identifying what breaks your heart can lead to the following awesome results:
Discover your passion. If you have clue what your passion is, get closer to figuring it out. No more need to wander around helplessly.
Reallocate your energy. If you have an idea of what you are passionate about, think through your heartbreak to see where you should be focusing your energy. This can do wonders for clearing your calendar, too. 😏
Check in on changes. If you're sure of your passion and your path, use your heartbreak to come up with new ways to solve the problems that most interest you.
Now that we’ve discovered how it can help, it’s time to try applying it to your own life. Clear your mind, and start digging.
What breaks your heart?
PS. Interested in exploring the ego further? Head over to Mindfulness For Makers.