I was sitting in a conference of a few thousand people, years ago, when I first heard that we needed to find out what we were passionate about and inspired by. It is crazy that it took over 30 years of my life to really be asked that question. I am not sure if it was ever a topic of conversation before that. Maybe,
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” was the closest thing. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I never really thought about what inspired me.
Almost two decades after being asked about what I was passionate about and inspired by, I realize now that I figured that out slowly. The answer didn’t come to me right away – it was developed, over time. I started by exploring what brought a smile to my face, what interested me, what made me feel happy and what I was doing when I lost track of time. A theme emerged, and today, I cannot imagine my life without the things I am passionate about.
One of the things that I can’t live without is nature. Those who have the annoyance of my various online posts each week see that I put up nature photos by the buckets. I have shared over 27,000 photos because I find that there are many people who also enjoy images of nature and travel. If someone doesn’t like my posts, they can either remove me from their news feed or unfriend me, but Facebook actually just sent me a message this morning that my posts have been liked 3500 times this year. (I guess this means I have somehow achieved some level of Facebook success. Lol!)
It just happens to be a bonus that I can share what I enjoy with others, but I take these photos because it is a daily reminder to seek out the little things that make me feel alive and happy. I am not sure about you, but I find that life and this world are full of so many things that are stressful, sad, dreadful, negative and draining. Getting outside and walking or looking at nature photos, is the way that I am nudged to realize just how beautiful our planet is and just how fortunate we are, especially in North America, to be able to explore freely and enjoy our surroundings, with the sole purpose of leisure, health, wellness or recreation.
For others, their passion may be gardening, drawing, painting, fishing, hunting, knitting, woodworking, sports, swimming, visiting, restauranting, travelling, pets, kayaking, canoeing, jogging, cycling, off-road vehicles, motorcycling, camping, music, art, birdwatching, hiking, photography, collaging, journaling, writing, decorating, cooking, etc. Each and every single person has something that they really enjoy and are attracted to doing and these activities contribute in a positive way to their lives.
Being creative, especially when you are coming up with new ideas, or engaging in things that bring you joy, happiness, peace and fulfillment, is the key to a full life. Studies have shown that being creative and inspired can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, calm stressful feelings, increase mood, give people a feeling of enthusiasm, energy, hopefulness and peace. Creative and fun activities can improve relationships, help us to sleep better, occupy our days in a healthy way and give us something to look forward to.
On the flip side, some activities although pleasurable, may add to our problems and cause more stress and health issues, when these things involve stimulants, chemicals, alcohol, drugs or addictions of any sort. Any activity can turn into an addiction, when it interferes with our health and wellness and when it alters the chemicals of our brain and body.
If what brings us joy is costing us money that we don’t have, strains our relationships, isolates us from our loved ones, interferes with our ability to work, go to school or function in a healthy way in our family or society, then it may be worth seeking out new habits and activities to engage in.
Artificial highs, from stimulants, can result in a pattern of extreme highs and lows and are usually the symptoms of being unhappy in our lives and an effort to mask or provide relief from the pain and stressors we are feeling. Finding out what the root of our pain is, will often free us up to seek the help we need, talk to professionals who can assist us with our addictions and begin to live in a healthy and enjoyable way.
Finding our passions and figuring out what inspires us can shift our experience of life from mundane, boring, stressed or sad to feeling well, excited and hopeful about life. I know that whenever I feel even a little bit of stress, I choose an activity that I know will shift my mood. I just happened to have discovered numerous things that I am passionate about.
Depending how much time I have, what the weather is like or what other responsibilities I have on my plate, I will pick something that I know will work for me. If it is nice out, or at least not raining, I will strap on my running shoes, grab my phone, go out for a walk and snap photos along the way. If I have a longer period of time, I will go out on my motorcycle, drive to a scenic location and take photos of my destination.
If it is not suitable to get outside, I will look at my nature photos, do up a slideshow, journal or collage pictures from old magazines. When I am working or unable to carve out more than a few minutes, I will go to a quiet location, pull out my phone and watch a couple of videos or look at photos of my grandchildren or photos of our past trips. When I give up on looking for something healthy to quickly increase my energy, I resort to chocolate – thus my addiction.
It has become a habit for me to seek out healthy activities that increase my energy levels, as much as possible, even though unhealthy food is the addiction that I battle. I know that I am off track when I pick sweet treats before the healthy activities. I am constantly aware of how I am feeling and when I need a boost. I loooooove chocolate and junk food but it is not good for me or my health.
Although a medium Skor Blizzard with extra Skor gives me a momentary high, the consequences of long-term use of high-calorie, sugary desserts do have an impact on my health. When I do give in, I often accompany it with a motorcycle ride or nature walk, before or after. Perhaps I can offset the negative impact, by watering it down with a positive action (at least that is what I tell myself).
I hope that we will all find healthy boosts that will replace our unhealthy boosts. I hope that we all realize that our experience of life is in our own hands and that what we choose to do with every minute of our day is up to us. If we are not feeling excited about our life, then we can change it, by deciding how we will spend our time. If we are spending much of our time in an altered state, due to alcohol, drugs or unhealthy habits, it is possible to make new choices.
What inspires you? What are you passionate about? What brings you healthy joy? At what point are you willing and ready to take action on improving your life? You deserve to feel well and happy. Consider taking five minutes today, doing something healthy and positive for yourself. Watch how you will want to do more of that and watch how your life experience can shift….
“There is no such thing as a lazy person: he is either sick or uninspired.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Here are some photos of what inspires me: