Our lives are filled with to-do lists, responsibilities and a heck of a lot of stress. In the winter, as least here in New England, we get to add cold, ice and darkness to the mix.
Anyone else feel the pain and suffering of January????
Well, I have a prescription to lighten up your days this winter - and the rest of your life:
A Passion Project.
What is a Passion Project?
A Passion Project is something you do that lights you up, that you enjoy, and that helps you connect with "flow". It may be something that you incorporate into your work or that you do "on the side". It may be something you partner with others on or create independently.
A Passion Project will be something that fills your heart. It is a gift you give to the world - either by helping others or by inspiring them use their own creativity. It lights up your soul, makes you smile when you think of it, and something you would literally jump out of bed in the morning to do (even if you aren't into that sort of thing).
In our society of increasing busy-ness and non-stop demans on our attention and time, creativity has never been more important.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi spoke of the concept of "flow" as the secret to happiness in his 2004 TED talk. As he explains, "When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life."
Connecting with that creative spark - finding our flow - creates a beauty, lightness and meaning that expands to the rest of our lives.
Health Benefits of a Passion Project
Beyond simply making our entire lives better (which, honestly people, shouldn't that be enough?!) there are a range of benefits to incorporating creativity into your life.
Psychologist Cathy Malchiodi shares, "Our capacity to actually 'create' is where we begin to live more fully, experience transformation, and recover the core of what it means to heal. It is your authentic expression through art making, music, song, movement, writing, and other forms of arts-based imagination that are central to the equation of why creativity is a wellness practice." She points to creative self-expression and exposure to the arts as having benefits for our cognitive and psychosocial health, as well as physical conditions such as Parkinson's disease, dementia and cancer.
A 2015 study published in the American Academy of Neurology states that engaging the minds through creativity will "protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age."
Passion Projects at Work
Passion Projects needn't be separate from our employment. At the United Way of West Central Connecticut, I started a project teaching chair yoga to seniors to improve their balance. I had taught yoga for 12 years and was to share it more in the community. Both my grandmothers had fallen and faced terrible consequences and I wanted to do something to prevent that from happening to others. I secured a grant through the North Central Area Agency on Aging which funded the work. You might not know exactly how to create your project or get it going, but talking with others about your intentions can be a powerful step towards reaching your goal. They may see avenues you don't see. To see some of the ways of creating a Passion Project within your current work, check out this article: https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2015/11/24/heres-why-everyone-needs-a-passion-project-at-work
Spark Your Imagination
To get your imagination going, check out this diverse list of Passion Projects. From art made from vintage license plates, to a guy who blogs about his daughter's pancakes, to someone who pet-sits for charity, you will find a wide range of ways people are using their passions to make the world a better and more intriguing place.
Fan the Flames
Once you've found your idea for a Passion Project, you'll want to create structures of support to keep your idea alive and thriving! Often passion is not quite enough, in the face of our to-do lists and responsibilities! Join a group like my Green Heart Passion Project to find others that are as dedicated to keeping your creation alive as their are to their own.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman
Chances are, if it makes you come alive, it will do the same for someone else. Find your passion and spread the love.
If you are having trouble finding your creative spark - or have an idea but don't know how to get it started - contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session. We'll get those juices flowing.