By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service
One of my mentors, Dr. David Viscott, said that happiness comes from finding your gifts and sharing them with the world.
I think finding your passion can do the same thing. Let’s take a look at what inspires you, so you can use your gifts to ignite your passion.
Don’t limit yourself; you do more than one thing. I have been a musician, an actor, a writer, a motivational speaker, and a therapist, and I think there may be room for one more side career.
Everything I have ever done seems to mix together to create what I am presently doing.
Add your experiences up, and the total may surprise you. Then get quiet and listen to your heart to find out what you want to do next.
Start with what you are really good at; nothing succeeds like success.
I have never liked doing anything I was bad at. Once I found a talent that other people liked and I loved, I followed it until it led me to where I wanted to be.
Remembering your successes really helps. Just feel that feeling, and let it take you to the next level. Remember that when you are great at one thing, it spills over into other things.
What did you want to be when you were a kid, and why did that change? I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was five years old. But my first column got published when I was forty, and my first book at fifty.
Before I started producing prose, I did many things, one of which was songwriting, and I was pretty good at it. I know it made me a better writer, and there was something magical about that time in my life. If you can’t trace how you got to where you are today, you can look at people you admire, and think about how he or she got to where they are. This will give you some new ideas.
Do a mind map with your passion in the middle, and see what creates it. This works if you have already have an idea of what you want to do but aren’t sure how to get there.
Before you start, ask yourself this question, “Do I want to work for others or for myself?” Now get a big piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. That centerpiece represents your passion. Now draw a line from the side of the paper to your passion and write above one thing that gets you there. Keep up the exercise until you have at least ten tributaries leading to the center. Each time you take one of them, you will be getting closer to your goal.
If money were no issue, what would you love to do with your time? Lying in the sand with a drink that has a little umbrella in it is not what you need to be looking for here. It’s what you want to be actively doing when that opportunity presents itself.
If you can’t imagine what you would be doing, it’s time to defy gravity and add a little of what you love to your life. I still play guitar and sing almost daily, and it gets me invites from the neighbors. My music makes me happy, which makes me a nicer person. That’s helpful when you are at the neighbor’s house and they get a little crazy.
Also know that passions can change, since change is part of the human condition. I was done with being on the road at thirty. The important thing is to know that there is more of life you can fall in love with. Just give yourself a chance.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)