Passion- What work are you willing to suffer for? (Todd Henry)


I love the word ‘passion’ and I find I use it a lot in everyday conversation. It is one of my core life values and I love meeting people especially older people who ooze a passion for living. They have this sparkle in their eyes and energetic enthusiasm that is catching.

According to Mr Google, passion comes from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer. I believe that working on a passion that you are endlessly striving to improve no matter how frustrating it can be, gives life meaning and significance. Viktor E. Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning sums this up beautifully-

It is a dangerous misconception to assume that what humans need is equilibrium or homeostasis- a tension less state. What man actually needs is not a tension less state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task

Everyday at work, I see patients with a whole range of addictions and mental health issues. I wonder how many of them have had a crisis of meaning in life and haven’t found a passion to follow which has contributed to where they are at. Only last week, there was a patient who spoke about how alcohol fills the time away and a reason to get out of bed.  I came away extremely sad because all through the conversation there were comments about having nothing to look forward to anymore and that life was just about waiting…waiting to die. The patient was not even 60 years of age. We did talk about passions and for a while there was some enthusiasm about an activity but then disappeared again as conversation steered towards physical limitations. I had no luck in highlighting that aspects of this activity could still be done in a smaller way. It was an all or nothing passion.

What about if you can’t find your passion in life? I think it is getting back to what you used to love to do for hours as a child or even now what you love doing in your spare time. I don’t think you have to be good at the particular passion just a unfulfilled thirst to know more about it. Maybe that is where we get it wrong and all mixed up? We haven’t found our passion in life because we don’t think we are good at anything in particular and that a passion should be something effortless, a natural talent we are born with.

Is there such a thing as the ‘one’ passion in life? I don’t think so and I think this assumption can lead to people being stuck before they start. They believe before starting a business they need to narrow their passions to ‘one true calling’ to focus solely on. There are now interesting websites like which talk about Multipotentialites. Multipotentialites are people who embrace multiple passions and create types of businesses that incorporate all their ever changing passions under an overarching general theme.

So what passion or passions are you willing to suffer for? My passion is creating art everyday. I am definitely willing to suffer for it in terms of hours spent and level of effort. I definitely get frustrated. I don’t think there has ever been a time with oil paintings where I haven’t despised the work and wanted to throw it out of the window. I find it particularly challenging to draw feet, hands and horses. With practice and more practice I think I am seeing improvements in these areas.  There is also a whole of essential art fundamentals that I am missing like composition and perspective. Overall, despite all this suffering and frustrations, I wouldn’t give up this passion. It gives me so much in return.

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