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How do you find out what your passion is ?

We are all interested in many subjects. sometimes we are fortunate to be good at many of them. how do you find out which one deserves further investment ? I understand that specialization in very specific topics is considered value today and getting good at all of your interests is out of the question.

here is an example,
Mr X has great management skills and abilities, he follows technology news everyday and is always a early-adopter of new innovations. he is fascinated by the genesis and reads books on universe, big bang, creation, genesis, evolution, etc. he is also curious on how mind works, he also studies on the biochemistry of brain, structure of mind and psychology of human behavior.
Mr X also has good imagination and a great story teller, he has never tried that but he thinks he has the potential to be a writer.

there is no multidisciplinary course to contain all of these concepts. what shall Mr X do ? which one of these interests can be a passion. what is the way of knowing it ?

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    Mar 22 2012: They say those whose passion lines up with their profession are the most fortunate people on planet.
    I think the question is not what Mr. X's passion is. He already knows that. He has a list of things he's interested to do. The question, in my opinion, is which one of those interests he might be able to turn into a profession?
    When it comes to profession, it's not passion alone that must be taken into consideration, even though it's the first and the most important necessity. There are loads of other elements that one has to weigh up before entering a job.
    For instance, if you're not very good at handling stress, being a surgeon won't probably suit you, no matter how much you may like it. Or if you are one of those people who hate being trapped in a daily routine, waking up early, going to a same place, spending hours in an office, every single day, then you'll never be happy with business thing, even though you may be interested in business.
    So What I think Mr. X must do is:
    1. make a list of his interests which he has done already.
    2. make an honest list of his personal characteristics, his talents as well as things in which he's less gifted, his limitations as well as his abilities.
    3. carry out some research about what kind of life style each of his interests might bring if it would turn to a job. In order to build up a realistic image of those professions, he has to see and talk with people who have been in those professions for years. Mr. X needs to know what the real life of a business man looks like, how about the life of a psychologist, or a write, or an astronomy scientist? Which one matches his expectations and ambitions better? How much income, in average, each of theses professions would provides? Will that be satisfying and meet his anticipations?
    Now if he pours all the data on the table, he might be able to make a right decision and chose one of those interests that suits him the best.
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      Mar 22 2012: Mitra,

      TED is now a much more pleasant experience with you in it. I am so happy you are in TED I can not express my gratitude.

      What you have mentioned I perceive as a complete methodology for choosing a career out of several possible alternatives. I am sure what ever process one may use for decision making these steps you mentioned will be there without a question.

      Now as you have stated Mr X has already listed his interests so he has done step 1 and he is ready to choose one considering his talents and characteristics and also the lifestyle those choices may bring. but somewhere between steps 2 and 3, as some members suggested he is now thinking of going back to step 1 and add some other alternatives that will encompass all those topics. Laura for example has suggested writing as a choice that can encompass them all. as you and I thought of that already and it was a solution we came up with for years.
      So writing will be one good choice that Mr X will definitely consider doing. MR X is desiring to have the joyful experience of a Phd and further pursuit of his dreams academically. one solution is to pursue multidisciplinary topics that encompass two or three of them. he has found several multidisciplinary topics and he is already excited about them. these newly found topics will also form 3 or 4 choices and your methodology is again prove to be useful in choosing one out of them. are you aware of any topics that will include a greater number of these fields of interest ? such topic shall include,thinking, creativity, science ( several fields ranging from cosmology to neurochemistry). one such topic is philosophy. I have not a philosophy course that will also delve into technology and science and the search continues.
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        Mar 23 2012: Sina,
        Thank you for your lovely comment and thank you for introducing me to this SUPERB experience. I don't think I'll be able to help Mr.X with multidisciplinary academic topics, as i have never done any research on that field and I am pretty sure that Mr. X knows far more than i do about them.
        But, my experience tells me that writing magically encompasses all the passions one might have. it's a wonderful, very powerful medium that one can use not only to satisfy his or her own passions, but also share the joy of it with the others. The more passion you pour into this bottomless magical cauldron, the more enchanted your readers will get. This is amazing. I'd tell Mr. X that if you think you can write, don't hesitate. Go for it this instant. You'll get surprised that how with a novel you'll be able to deal with all your passions and tell thing you want to tell from the tongue of the characters you have created. THIS IS AMAZING...
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    Mar 28 2012: I would say that person is full of life and life will guide him or her along the proper path. It's all about trusting and knowing yourself. I would say mr.x isnt interested in making lots of cash and is probably aware his path will be unique to mr.x which is just how it should be, and everything else will fall into place. I think passion and interests are not the right word in this example. I would use the word gift which assumes mr.x was unaware of this about hisself at one time and at some point discovered or opened his gift. I don't think gifts are god given, btw, I think all persons are only limited by theirself.
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      Mar 28 2012: Dear Brian,

      I really enjoyed reading your reply.
      "all persons are limited by their self", TRUE ... recognizing the chains and breaking free from them will actually unleash the hidden power in us.
      and I do agree, every person's path is unique to himself as it is the case with Mr X. and life as you say is indeed guiding him. the secret is to look for them and these comments are the best evidence of that claim.

      I read in your profile that you are an idea generator. that is what Mr X is very interested in and also idea management and idea engineering. is there such a university major ? is there a job for idea generators out there ? will u be so kind to elaborate that more ?
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    Mar 21 2012: SINA! I love this question! Isnt it the point of every day? This generation no longer feels like we have to work at the same company doing the same thing for 40 years, and we are free to really pursue what gives us life. But what a question to answer!

    I have been spending the last 3 months especially on this and am so grateful to have figured out what my core passion is and will outline a few tips solely from my own experience that might possibly help someone else... or you!

    1. Be simple. We tend to over analyze ourselves, other people, situations. We each have instinct. If something brings you joy, note what that is.
    2. After you determine a list of things you love, can you boil them down to the exact activity or aspect of that thing that you enjoy?
    3. Now see what overlaps...
    4. See if you can differentiate what your core mission is versus vision. Mission wakes you out of bed. Mission is how you love relating to people. Vision is the avenue by which that mission is manifested.

    For example, my mission is to motivate and mobilize people toward X to have a greater impact than if I was to work alone. My vision is to eliminate the absence of basic needs for people in developing countries. So I will use my mission, the core of who I am, to connect people and ideas and work toward accomplishing my vision.

    These are my quick thoughts and I hope they make sense!
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      Mar 21 2012: WOW... That was one hell of a comment .. thank you very much for your insightful response.
      I enjoyed the four steps you mentioned and I am trying to apply that to come up with an answer.

      first let me share my experience with everyone that being simple that is your first step is not as easy as it seems it is. but it is a powerful concept that really helps.
      I have already done steps 2 and 3 but regarding the 4, the mission and vision let me add a little piece of information to the equation. I am trying to find a Phd program that will encompass all or most of these topics I love. but most interdisciplinary ones include 2 or 3 and not more. do you know a scientific topic that encompasses these topics all ? O was thinking of philosophy but it is not what I have in mind exactly.

      Sina
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    Mar 19 2012: when you can't figure out whethr its work or play ...some quote from someone says that..and thats the surest way of knowing because that which gives you most joy is the wellspring of your passion--it could be one thing or a few ,or a person or a place but you will know
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      Mar 19 2012: We are on the same page Sangita:>)
      I call all life experiences work/play...do what you love, or love what you're doing.
      Passion, to me, is not something "out there" to "find". I carry my passion in my heart at all times:>)
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        Mar 19 2012: Dear Colleen,

        I think doing what we love absolutely makes sense where loving what we do does not make sense at all. you can not force yourself to love sth.
        when you carry your passion in your heart it means you already know what it is and that is exactly my question. how to know a particular subject is your passion. where is the borderline of being interested and being passionate about sth. which one shall be chosen as a professional career ?
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          Mar 19 2012: Sina,
          You are certainly welcome to your own opinion, and life choices:>)

          I do not "force" myself to love. As I've said many times here on TED, the life experience for me, is about learning, growing, evolving as an unconditionally loving person, and I believe that is an idea worth spreading:>)

          I understand your question Sina, and I do not agree that passion is necessarily about a particular interest as a professional career, or a particular "subject", although it could be. I have had several careers and have totally loved them all...enjoying each and every moment of the learning experience, while contributing to the whole of humankind:>)

          As I said, "Passion, to me, is not something "out there" to "find". If you think/feel it is, then carry on...it is a choice for all of us:>) I prefer to feel the passion in myself, and I have found that with passion for life, those interests/careers/subjects that draw me become more and more clear. I LOVE exploring life with curiosity:>)
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          Mar 19 2012: Hi Sina,
          Quote: "where loving what we do does not make sense at all"

          I understand that thought I quote yet it isn't what it seems to be.

          Once I didn't like the work I did, in fact I hated it. Married with a bunch of children, I didn't think I had much choice than to proceed.
          One day I changed my attitude because of the realization that if I had to do it anyway, I better did it with love.
          That changed everything. The results improved, I was focused, it was more satisfactory and I mastered the job perfectly so I could do it like a dance. I wasn't working any longer but dancing all day every day.

          It isn't what you do that matters but how you do it. Whatever you think needs to be done is worth of doing with full attention and focus, it is worth to be done well.
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          Mar 19 2012: I agree Frans...it isn't what we do as much as HOW we do it:>)

          I LOVE the image of you "dancing" all day Frans:>)
          "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass...it is about learning to dance in the rain".
          http://www.danceintherainmovie.com/
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        Mar 19 2012: Thank you Colleen,

        I do understand your definition of passion and I too share the same idea that being passionate is about the whole life not just one topic. perhaps we will reach a better common understanding of my issue if we change the word passion with " profession" which one of these topics available in the world should be followed professionally. as I mentioned in my comment to sylvia, Life has limited resources, time, energy, youth, and if I had unlimited resources I would have loved to learn to play piano, study cosmology, physics, etc. but now life forces us all to choose one as a profession. I have already done that but I am willing to deviate a little and pursue what I really want that is not just one topic. some careers make it possible to be active in many fields, like philosophy, management ... I think a career in idea generation and management perhaps could be the best. is there such a multidisciplinary topic to cover a great range of fields in life ?
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          Mar 19 2012: Dear Sina,
          I am not simply using MY definition of passion. Passion - syn: "Fervor, Ardor, Enthusiasm, zeal. Why would we NOT live life with these qualities?

          I honestly don't feel that "life forces us" to do anything. Yes, sometimes there are challenges we need to face, and we have choices regarding how we face the challenges.
          As Frans insightfully says...it is an attitude, and we have the opportunity to choose our attitude in each moment.

          In my experience, when we live life passionately, all kinds of doors and windows open for us. If there is not a "multidisciplinary topic" that suits you, create it! Your profile suggests that you have explored many different areas of interest...have you done that without passion? Without joy?
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        Mar 19 2012: Dear Colleen,

        I was about to suggest that the idea is poetic but not practical that I reached this sentence of yours:

        "If there is not a "multidisciplinary topic" that suits you, create it!"

        that is the type of answer I was looking for. Thank you.
        It brought new insight into the problem and it is the fact that sometimes we do not find a template that fully suits who we are in the world outside. this is a barrier to mind that we should get rid of soon.

        The dilemma was that I was trying to select one out of many topics I loved and could not let go of any of them. I have studies everything I have written in my profile with passion and joy (you are right).
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          Mar 19 2012: Thank you Sina....it's FUN to be "right"!!! LOL:>)

          "If your ship hasn't come in...swim out to it"
          (Mary Engelbreit)

          Did you look at that link I posted a couple comments back? I truly believe that "life is not about waiting for the storm to pass...it's about learning to dance in the rain". I also believe that gratitude is an important part of passion, and living life blissfully, mindfully, with awareness. It's important to recognize where we've been and the lessons we've learned with gratitude. This knowledge builds a wonderful foundation for whatever is to come next:>)
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          Mar 21 2012: My apologies Colleen and Sina Elli for posting again but felt must share 2 things..one ,that it should not be a dliemma if many things vy for your attention..you can enjoy delving into all ,i am beseiged by a number of things i love to do ,my work,my family ,painting ,singing ,cooking,writing,reading ,theres always a pile of stuff left an sometimes i am overwhelmed and ready to collapse but the resurgence is sure ,steady..2nd thing is constantly learning how fortunate we are to have the great gift of choosing how we can live..I work amidst so many women and children for whom survival comes first and who have scant hope and extreme deprivation..the inequity is disturbing and harsh..a hot meal everyday brings happiness ...
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          Mar 21 2012: Sangita....same page again...and no apologies needed for your wonderful posts!

          I do not recognize many diverse interests as a "dilemma" or "problem" either. I LOVE and am grateful for having many different interests, and find that at different times in my life, different interests take center stage.

          I have also worked with women and children who have NO choices, and for whom survival is the scope of their everyday life.
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        Mar 19 2012: Dear Colleen,

        I would like to thank you for taking time and replying. You are doing it professionally becasue your comments are both prompt and to the point.

        I enjoyed watching the movie in the website you introduced and also love the quote:
        "If your ship hasn't come in...swim out to it"
        (Mary Engelbreit)

        Although I have always loved dancing, running, opening my arms like wings under the rain and without an umbrella, I do not agree with totally applying that concept to life. partially I am ok with that and I think it will be very beneficial but not totally.
        here is the reason.
        Positive thinking when proposed created a lot of hype and people accepted that with human-race-wide thirst for happiness but years after there was nothing but disappointment. positive thinking is the theme for many commercial products as it is the case with the website you have provided. It is a beautiful concept without a question but It does not simply work. when people still find moments of sorrow and happiness they are told that they might not have applied the concept properly and so they go back and try again and again.
        I do not remember the source but a few months ago I read this research that thinking positively and this very attempt in large scale study has backfired and lead to more sorrow.

        I believe a normal healthy person should not feel happy all the time or be thankful for every terrible thing that happens. one can and shall not be grateful for everything. this will kill the contrast in life and soon you will see that the one-dimensional life is the worst place to be.
        happiness is of great value because and only because it is not always there and it has a price. once you pay the price you have every right to be happy and once you do not life will not simply reward you. human mind is nothing short of a miracle and it has the ability to superficially deceive itself but not deeply. rain dancer knows deep there that he is not happy and he shall move to where sun shines.
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          Mar 20 2012: Sina,
          It is my pleasure to reply....to connect with people.....to have respectful conversations....sharing information...ideas worth spreading:>)

          I believe we are all mirrors to each other reflecting information back and forth, and I also believe we know everything we need to know about ourselves when/if we are serious about exploring our "self". We have the information we need to learn, grow and evolve, and we remind each other all the time:>) I'm simply reminding you of what you know in your heart.

          I am not proposing creating "a lot of hype" with positive thinking. "Thinking" is just that, and an important part of the process, but only one part. To be effective, we need to embrace all parts of the process....live the concept....not just "think" it....you see?

          A "normal healthy person" is BALANCED. I respect your beliefs as YOUR beliefs, and I do not agree with your interpretations and perceptions.
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        Mar 20 2012: Dear Colleen,

        The respect is mutual for sure. and despite our disagreement on that matter I love reading your comments that are almost always bring new insight to the subject under discussion.

        albeit I diasagree with the dancing in the rain concept but I am going to try it for a while. and I will try to do it as you suggest by not thinking that I am and instead by knowing I am. I will give that my best shot. and I will be back with my feedback.
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      Mar 19 2012: I do agree Sangita, yes "that which gives you most joy is the wellspring of your passion." that's one of the clues i am looking for. thank you.
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      Mar 21 2012: First let me express my gratitude for you being involved in this discussion. feel free to add anything you might find useful.

      You and Colleen are both right. if I feel I am interested in all these topic I can delve into them all. Now I am trying to find a topic that can contain them all together, and that's because I do not want to invent the wheel all over again when it's already been invented. I might not be aware of such a university subject to study.
      If I can not find one that satisfies me I am going to boldly try and create my own path that will bring them all into the equation.

      Thank you for broaden our view and showing the pictures we might have neglected. yes we are fortunate to live in the higher layers of Mallow's hierarchy of needs and we are living in a world that still suffers from hunger, poverty, illness, and above all I think real illiteracy that will open doors to ignorance, superstition and idiotism and they are the main causes of hunger, poverty, illness, etc.
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    Mar 19 2012: This question has been addressed often on TED. If you search back even a week, you will likely find some interesting responses. If you are a student in school, you don't need one multidisciplinary course to capture all your interests. You can take courses in all of these. Even if you are finished with school, you can read books in all these areas as well. Because so many people share these interests with you, there are excellent books published recently for non-specialists to learn some of the most fascinating ideas in each of these fields.Do you know the website Big Think? They have a daily newsletter of article synopses that then link to the longer article. One day of the week it's brain science and psychology. Another is cosmology. Another is biology and medicine. Do look for it. I enjoy it every day. My short answer to how to pick, to add to the many pieces of advice on this you will find at TED and on the internet if you search for 'finding your passion" is that if you find them all fascinating and can't decide, just jump in on any one of them. Often when we have a hard time deciding between two options, it is because they are actually equally good.A second answer is to pursue one that as a side benefit allows you to continue to learn about the other naturally because there are synergies between the fields. For example how the mind works, biochemistry of the brain, structure of mind, and human behavior are all within neuropsychology. The earlier items on your list sound like evolutionary biology.
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    Mar 20 2012: Yes we are on the same page Colleen,though I am new to TED I've found your comments very kindred in several threads :) and this is one too----and it so rings true thatlife is about cherishing everything around us ,like a sailor who loves the sea and accepts he will navigate through rough or calm waters . Sina Elli despite what I say above I empathise with your questioning the concept of positive thinking but do not agree because I have felt the same many years ago,went through some hard transition BLUES and felt let down by life ..felt I had it all figured out.and couldnt cope with pain loss and adversity...but you know what thats how I learnt that we can CHOOSE to be happy all the time ,dance in the rain stuff ....the concept is not deceptive ,it is our expectation that life is supposed to be smooth and go the way we want,it is expectation which clouds our judgement..it is a given that life will change the game the moment you learn the rules and you will be in cruise or combat...I live with this pigheaded resilience, moving foward like a skilled amateur ,more determined ,more resourceful , and wrapped snug in defeatless humour....when you hold life to be precious it will always be positve even when you flounder because the whole will be greater than the parts aka bad times as someone said winters may be hard but within you lies an invincible spring'
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      Mar 20 2012: Dear Sangita,
      I just wrote my comment regarding "expectation", and then discovered your comment about expectation!!! Yes, we are on the same page....same book....same library!!!

      I totally agree Sangita..."when you hold life to be precious it will always be positive even when you flounder because the whole will be greater than the parts..."
      So very well said......thank you:>)

      My lessons have also been challenges that I have faced in the life experience, and I realized through the challenges/lessons, that happiness, contentment, and living life with passion are choices:>)
  • Mar 19 2012: Hi Sina,
    I am in the same boat as you are. For the last few months, I have asked myself this same question. What am I passionate about? I have yet to find out. I am hoping one day, it will just "hit" me with such certainty. Right now, I feel like I am just on a journey to find that out. If only there's some common guidelines for us to find it out, that would be great. :-)
    Thank you Fritzie for recommending Big Think website.
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      Mar 19 2012: Dear Sylvia,

      I am glad someone else shares the same experience. I really think I know what I like but the very nature of life and limited resources of time, energy and youth forces us to choose one or two main fields to study and understand while having superficial updates on others subjects. If I had unlimited resources I would have loved to study math, play piano, travel, study neural biochemistry, astronomy, cosmology etc. but now that I need to choose only one and perhaps for my profession I have doubts. the journey you mentioned is already began for me and I hope you and I will eventually be sure of which one of these alternatives is the ONE.
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      Mar 21 2012: Dear Sylvia most of us are on that boat sometime or the other ,,it is only rare geniuses who know what ignites their passion...but thats part of the great journey life is ,you keep discovering and finding answers or more questions !! Sina Elli no will ever have unlimited resources ,as you said smwhere above how will there be contrasts so the challenges are given and juggling choices ,allocating ,choosing between scarce resources goes with the territory.
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        Mar 21 2012: Dear Sangita,

        I enjoyed your comment and loved this part:
        "and when you make this choice there will be no need for positive thinking because there will be no place for the negative"

        you are right once you find it, there will be no place to trying to feel good or be passionate. this logic is undeniable. you only try to feel good and think positive when your subconscious mind know that situation is not actually good and in case of my question what you have chosen is not what you really wanted so you try to tweak your vision. BUT as it is well stated in your excellent example of mother and child, once you know your choice and situation is the right one, all difficulties and problems seem beautiful and you will do what you have to do with real passion.

        Thank you for your perfect contribution Sangita. your logic makes sense.

        Now , going back to my original question,
        It seems we can only find out what our passion is only if we try it out first hand. so if you do not want to undergo difficulties and the necessary effort actually seems to be difficult that is not your true passion but if you are doing it with love and nothing seemd hard enoigh to stop you then you have found your passion.

        My problem now is that I am probably passionate about several subjects and I d want to follow them all professionally which is not possible due to human limitations of time, energy, resources, so I need to find a multidisciplinary field of study to encompass them all. there are currently ones including some of them but not all. as Colleen said I may eventually create it myself but till then can You suggest a topic including them all. I was thinking of philosophy which allows me to be able to think to all these topics simultaneously and I can view the whole picture. but Philosophy is not including technology. it never deals with biochemistry of brain or take delicate laws of physics into consideration as they are the fields of a science, neuro cognition and physics.
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          Mar 21 2012: Happy that you found some answers in my post ..but im not equipped (being a humanities person) to suggest any subject,wouldnt even if I could because thats a a path you have to choose. Your conflicting choices IMO seem unnecessary ..you dont have to have it all in one Big Easy customised field which will cover all your interests...life is never that way carefully optimised for maximum returns ..you over analyse..life is more like a bird which wheels and dips ,soars in the open sky or coasts down and alights on a green bough..you will have to prioritise what works best for you...what is worth losing sleep over and time flies when you are doing it...its that simple ...maybe choose neuro cognition and read philo in your spare time...but all d best in your search
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    Mar 29 2012: love this guy - good message and good humor thank you -;-
  • Mar 21 2012: Some of these can be "armchair" pursuits. Some can be more serious, and if he decides to pursue writing, with some imagination (and he seems to have a lot) he could weave that all into a story.
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      Mar 22 2012: Thank you for your contribution Dear Laura,

      So you think creative writing is the best place to put them all together. I agree. I may find a multidisciplinary Phd program that wlil encompass some of these topics and then put them all together in the shape of stories.
      • Mar 22 2012: Yes, I think a story or a book, or perhaps a series of books (so as not to overwhelm the reader with everything at once) would be very interesting. It would appeal to intelligent people. I know I would like to read something like that. All you need now is a plot or two.
  • Mar 21 2012: What a dilemna.

    But, very typical of someone who is well rounded and a life-long learner.

    I think that acquiring knowledge is a passion in and of itself. Now, when we
    end up enjoying one particular kind of knowledge above others,
    and feel that we have to share it with others, then......things
    change.

    Now instead of just receiving, we become givers. This passion
    can even become our way of making a living.

    This is my reflection....hope it helps you.

    Be Well
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      Mar 21 2012: Dear Mary,

      Sure it helps, Thank you for your contribution.

      are you aware of a single topic that would encompass all these topics ? is there a university subject perhaps in phd level that is dealing with a vast area of knowledge fields ? I was thinking of philosophy but it is not exactly what I am looking for.
      • Mar 21 2012: I can't say that I am aware of a single topic.

        Here in the US some choose to have various degrees. They will graduate with dual degrees, and sometimes with a speciality in one thing or another.

        And then wait to get their masters and doctorates in a special field that is their area of expertise.

        I personally would love to attend University my entire life.....The school of life...and pursue knowledge of all kinds of scientific fields. I can dream can't I?

        Much success to you!!!
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          Mar 21 2012: Yes Mary, studying for several degrees is another option that I can not comment on right now because I only have a Master's degree and have not experienced what a Phd is like, but I have friends who double major in a Phd and a second Masters.

          attending the university our entire life and the school of life itself and learning from all resources in life by traveling, reading, observing ... yes that is a dream we both share dear Mary and we are already moving the right direction I think.

          be well,
          Sina
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    Mar 21 2012: Lol Colleen..it is d same library indeed..im sure you were,like me, a teen enchanted with life ,determined to BE intensely passionately alive and soar with your dreams,head in the clouds and then you found that living with passion was no buffer,you got it right in the the gut cos life didnt soften any edges..but through it all you emerged ..a mature woman who is still intensely alive but with feet firmly on terra firma..in some ways even more sure ,more empowered because along the way you know who you are and who you are"nt ,there is clarity ,there is comfort in your own skin and the the basis of it all is that we alone are beings who can choose how to be ....so here's to living with passion :):)
  • Mar 20 2012: try things out
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    Mar 28 2012: Probably a liberal arts degree with a future in politics. Btw, thanks for the kind words. I don't think i'm an idea generator any more than anyone else I just don't like to be labeled and that was the softest choice on the board. Peace
  • Mar 21 2012: I had to come back and give you a quote by Sheena Lyengar from a TED talk:

    "Choice can develop into the very opposite of everything it is suppose to represent--
    when it is thrust upon those who are not prepared for it."
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      Mar 21 2012: Thank you for coming back and sharing this with us, Can you please elaborate more ?

      How should one prepare for having choices and what does that mean exactly ?

      Regards,
      Sina
      • Mar 22 2012: Please view her TED talk. She elaborates on this much better than I ever could:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html

        Be Well,
        Mary
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          Mar 22 2012: Oh, I had watched Sheena before and I watched it again to refresh my memory and try to grasp what you mentioned from her speech.

          Sheena suggests that an abundance of choice may not bring happiness but quite the opposite depending the backgrounds and culture one has come from. I know someone who will see all these topics I have mentioned the same just the way a Russian will perceive those soft drinks the same , SODA. but to Mr X they are different choices and the choice is a vital one, you can try a different brand or taste of soft drink everyday but it is not the same story with a Phd or a career.

          Thank you again for your response and the link to the video
        • Mar 22 2012: Mary, I watched Sheena Iyengar, and also checked out her info about herself. It was illuminating how she is part of a traditional family that would make choices for their childrens' lives, as well as the modern american society that values making choices for themselves. Also how her blindness has, no doubt, helped he to make choices for her own life, in ways that we could not even fathom. Thanks for your suggestion to watch her video.
    • Mar 22 2012: Often children are not willing to have to make a choice. Sometimes they lack the confidence or the experience to make a choice. They may feel they will be criticized for their choice - they may not be used to making choices. Some can be overwhelmed by having to make a choice. They need to practice.
      Everyone needs to learn how to make choices, and to realize which choices are more or less important than others. How to spend more thought or less thought on which choices.
      On things that are not too important, not earth shattering or life changing, like which stalk of celery, for example, to pick out in the store or which jar of jam-- I save my brain cells and just pick the one that "speaks to me." I let the choice make itself. This is also particularly helpful when there are too many things to choose from.
      Otherwise, ways to make choices are based on logic, or feeling, or like or dislike, or intuition. Sometimes we are daring or impetuous, or maybe too careful in choosing. There are many ways to make choices, and I think as humans we learn to use all sorts of ways. It depends on the subject of the choice. We all make good choices and bad choices, and hopefully learn from our experiences. We have to practice.
      • Mar 22 2012: Yes Laura, I agree with your statements.

        I will add that parents may contribute to helping a child learn how to make choices by instilling confidence in them. It is all too easy to choose for your child all of the time. for example....going shopping for your child always, without ever inviting them along to help you choose. Sure it is convenient, because of time issues, but in the long run, you have missed many teachable moments.

        Making choices is an art.....there are also alot of subtleties that may be revealed in our choice making , they may reveal much of who we are.

        For example: the entertainment we select opens a window to our heart...revealing what values we treasure. Our choices tell us much about the kind of association we delight in, the type of language we condone, and the sexual morals we tolerate. So it is important, as you stated above, to learn how to make choices....sometimes we need to be selective....other times we don't.

        With discovering your passion, I personally have always known what it is......education....I am passionate about educating myself and others. Ideas thrill me.....and I love to spread them.

        I think what happens with choices is that the "What If's" can attack your brain cells while you are making the choice, and even after. There is another great TED talk titled "the Paradox of choice" which I highly recommend to anyone who has a hard time making choices. I personally have learned alot from viewing the talk several times.

        Thank you so much for your insight......hope I didn't ramble on too much.
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          Mar 22 2012: Thank you again for introducing another wonderful Talk on this matter.

          I found many parts of your comment so brilliant that I like to highlight them here.

          1- [making choices for children] is convenient, because of time issues, but in the long run, you have missed many teachable moments.

          2- [our choices] reveal much of who we are.

          3-the entertainment we select opens a window to our heart...revealing what values we treasure. Our choices tell us much about the kind of association we delight in

          4-.sometimes we need to be selective....other times we don't.

          5- "What If's" can attack your brain cells while you are making the choice, and even after

          Based on your number 3, may I also suggest that another way of realising what your passion is, may be the entertainment factor. I suppose our true passion is also entertaining to some extent. When I am reading brain nerocognition I become so excited that I do not feel like having to rest for a while or needing another kind of entertainment.

          what is your solution to the "what if" problem.
          there are both advantages and disadvantages to them. sometimes you have to stick with your decision to finish what you have begun and sometimes those what ifs lead to turning from a wrong path and correcting it.
        • Mar 22 2012: No, your 'ramblings' are insightful, and very beautifully put. This seems to be leading into a very important new part of the discussion. Choices and passions are linked together in many ways.
        • Mar 22 2012: Passions certainly have an entertainment factor, whether they are also ones that are a person's profession or not. And entertainment seems to bring with it extra energy. With my passion of making things - usually with fabric and my sewing machine, or paint - I can stay up half the night and keep going and not feel tired. Also I see my husband get really excited and energized about physics and math, which is his profession. I guess my observation is that one's passion is energizing, as Sina also says. I think we feed on that energy.
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          Mar 22 2012: Laura,
          I experience a similar feeling when passionately engaged with a project...especially the gardens. I can get lost in time and space, forget to eat or drink for hours, and I agree that passion creates energy. It is as if we can transcend human limitations with the energy of passion:>)

          BTW Laura,
          I read your profile, and my heart goes out to you with love...sorry about your loss.
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        Mar 22 2012: Laura and Mary,
        You both mention "confidence", and I agree that it is a very important part of the decision making/choice process. As you say Mary, the "what if's" get into our head, and sometimes prevent us from making decisions/choices. We then become afraid to make the "wrong" choice.

        With my beliefs that I am a passionate person, living a life of exploration, there is no right or wrong path. Everything I do in the moment is with passion, and there is no doubt or fear of the right or wrong choice. I think knowing ourselves with confidence is an important part of the choices and decisions we make regarding our life adventure.

        Thanks for addressing the importance of confidence...I agree that it is a very important part of the question:>)
        • Mar 22 2012: Yes Colleen, "knowing ourselves helps us to make choices without doubt or fear of right or wrong, because we make them knowing it is right for "us".

          With University and careers it is tough....I have had friends who have devoted 5 years at University studying something they were passionate about, then have had all doors closed to them when it came to finding a job, and have had to resolve to working at the post office....that one rock in the road was enough to stop them from pursuing what they appeared to be passionate about.

          Ultimately the big choices in life are ours....but some circumstances are beyond our control.

          Here is another angle to this choice dilemna....tell me what you think:

          Sometimes we spend so much time wondering "what should I do".....that we end up doing NOTHING......procrastination is terrible.......we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that we are undecided, and that all the choices ahead of us are wonderful, when in reality we know what we need to do, and we are looking for ways to prolong what we need to do.

          I remember a coworker who couldn't decide on what wedding gown to buy....she involved everyone in the decision making....wha a big deal she made....guess what? Noone got invited to her wedding....Her marriage lasted a whole year....she is now divorced....

          I usually never step in and tell people what to choose, I much rather remind them that it is their choice. And, to choose wisely......for wherever you and your choices go, there you both are.

          Thanks for the feedback Colleen.
        • Mar 22 2012: Yes, confidence is a BIG part of making choices, in learning how to make them, in not being afraid to make them. Confidence is a big part of following one's passion, and making the choices needed there.
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        Mar 22 2012: Dear Laura,

        I agree, we need to save the brain cells for decisions that matter the most. choosing a video camera (my own experience) and spending a lot of time reading reviews and comparing the specifications is not an earth shattering choice.

        We have to make choices hundreds of times everyday. small choices on what kind of cheese to buy to important ones that can change our path in life. actually after every single decision we make, we create a totally different future.

        Although this was not the main point of my question I think what you reminded us here is as important. I am going to spend less energy and time on decisions that do not matter much. It is not going to be easy specially because of all these marketing hypes that are claiming a product to be different but they are more or less pretty much the same.
        • Mar 22 2012: Sina,

          I am glad I was able to share a little of my knowledge and understanding with you.

          I have learned alot on TED, and also from reading journals on issues that affect our everyday life.

          Be Well...

          Mary
        • Mar 22 2012: Sina, I love what you say about creating new futures after every decision we make. How true! We could have alternate futures if we make other decisions. The trick is to know which ones make radical changes and which do not. But you have reminded us of how we are all involved with creating our futures each day, by choices we make. We should make it a point to remember that.
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        Mar 22 2012: Thanks for your feedback as well Mary...constructive, respectful feedback is always enjoyable:>)

        What I think about the "choice dilemma", is I think/feel on the same page as what you think...that seeing "choice" as a problem is sometimes a way of procrastinating. That has been brought forth previously on this thread, when someone said that sometimes we analyse way too much. And I agree with you, that with this practice, we are only fooling ourselves...no one else:>)

        Interesting story about the wedding and dress. Apparently the dress was the focus rather than the actual wedding? We DO get sidetracked at times when/if we don't know ourselves well enough to know what is important to us.

        I'm big on encouraging choice as well, and I totally agree...wherever we go, there we are with our own choice...well said Mary:>)
        • Mar 22 2012: Thanks Colleen.
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    Mar 21 2012: Maybe you're not just trying find something "passionate" about, and, perhaps, it's a wrong start with the word "passion" in the 1st place? Maybe you're trying to find your own version of "meaning of life"? I love the quote from Descartes: "I think, therefore I am."

    It's irrelevant of being optimistic or pessimistic. Similar to you, as what most of us are doing, I have my own daytime profession, and I don't care, whether or not my "meaning of life" will lead to financial fruition, landing on a perfect career, or denting a mark in the history of mankind. This is all irrelevant, and the most important thing is that I need to find peace with myself. And, I believe, the rest will follow.
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      Mar 21 2012: Thank you for your contribution dear Jack,

      So you obviously suggest that we should not mix the daytime profession with our passion to seek a meaning in life. My philosophy of life does not necessarily require the life to have a meaning or purpose but now that we are here and exist, we can try knowing more and seeing the whole picture is the way to go.

      "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

      This is what I am trying to do and I am not finding a right topic that will include all my fields of interest in one place. can You suggest one ?
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    Mar 21 2012: Colleen, thank you for reading the comments carefully as you say you do.

    You agree that "open-mindedness means the ability to change or alter your beliefs"
    and you also say that "it is an open mind that does not doubt"
    if an open minded person is not supposed to doubt, how ever he is open to change ? changing the beliefs always starts with doubt. you are contradicting yourself.

    you ask: "I wonder why you continue to doubt positive thinking/feeling. Are you reinforcing your old beliefs, by doubting postive thinking/feeling as a beneficial tool? "
    may I suggest that you are probably seeing the world in terms of right and wrong where it is almost always not the case. have you checked those links I posted a few comments ago ? did you give yourself the chance of going through them to see if they contain a piece of truth that may change your current belief regarding the positive thinking ? nothing is for certain my dear friend, and the moment you think you are right and actually being right seems to be fun and addictive, you are exposing yourself to the risk of being prejudice about it. I am aware of all these research results I sent you, and I have self experience on positive thinking not being effective but STILL i give myself the chance to re-try rain-dancing and I am going to do it as well as I can and that starts with a doubt.

    my question is not on the nature of passion or how to be passionate. it is about how to find out if a certain topic is your passion (If the word passion is misleading, you may swap it with, like, love, career option). my intention is not to discuss passion itself but the topics one may choose to pursue professionally in his life. although everything in this world is inter-connected and we can not isolate matters, what I want to focus on is the grand choice of a topic to study professionally and I believe you have provided one excellent answer in one of your previous comments.
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      Mar 21 2012: Sina,
      I do not see a contradiction in what I wrote. Perhaps I was not clear enough however. I believe questioning is GREAT! I do not believe that living in a state of doubt is beneficial.

      Doubt:
      To lack confidence in; distrust; to consider unlikely; uncertainty of belief or opinion that often interferes with decision-making; a state of affairs giving rise to uncertainty, hesitation.
      syn: problematic

      To be in a state of doubt simply interfere with the process of questioning...in my perception.

      I do not EVER see the world in terms of right and wrong Sina, and in keeping with that belief on my part, I do not feel I am "right" in this situation either. You asked a question, which I contribute to, with all honesty, and good intent, based on my simple exploration of life. I agree..."nothing is for certain".

      If I have not changed by perception of positive thinking in 65 years, it is highly unlikely that links you provide will serve that purpose:>)

      If you want to hold onto your doubt...so be it...it is a choice for all of us in every moment:>)

      I understand what your question is Sina, and I have given you information to the best of my ability. I do not percieve the word "passion" to be misleading....do you? It appears that you are passionate about "finding" your passion:>)
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        Mar 21 2012: Collen,
        you mentioned:
        "I do not believe that living in a state of doubt is beneficial"
        you are changing the question to suit the answer you want to give.

        who wants to live in a state of doubt ? ... if one is a open minded person he is soon going o have to show flexibility in his thoughts instead of sticking to one for a lifetime.
        flexibility means change and for changing a belief you first have to doubt it.

        There is nothing wrong with doubt ... It is basically where all the science is coming from.

        you are simply saying that you are neglecting many scientific researches in this area and you are going to hold on to your belief because you have done so for 65 years ? and you never allow yourself to doubt it and the more you continue this belief the more it will seem right to you.

        That may not be the kind of reasoning or thinking that can set one free and lead to truth in my opinion.

        with all due respect, I disagree totally and I think continuing this discussion between you and me may no longer be as useful as it could be. of course you are welcome to present your ideas and there will be constant disagreement.

        I believe in the value of doubt, I think it takes courage to doubt a belief, you do not.
        I present scientific researches to support my claim and you present the years you have lived with that belief.

        we are just two persons with the opposite point of view regarding a subject. I like that and I think diversity of thoughts in the big picture is what makes life more beautiful and helps humanity improve, just like colors of the rainbow that makes it more beautiful than a single colored one.

        but at this stage, I think because where we have reached was not the point of my original question and I am currently not seeking an answer to the positive thinking phenomenon and nor do you since you are perfectly fine with your life style and it seems it is working for you.then do you agree that we should just accept that we are just two colors in the rainbow of life
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          Mar 21 2012: Sina,
          I am not changing anything regarding the question you ask. YOU brought up the topic of doubt, because you said you doubt positive thinking/feeling.

          I am not, in any way "neglecting many scientific researches", and in fact, many scientific theories contribute to my beliefs at this time.

          My reference to 65 years was simply to say that I have had that many years of practice regarding positive thinking/feeling and how it works for me.

          With all due respect, I am offering information regarding the questions you ask. The information I provide may work for you....or not....it is a choice.

          I have always percieved us as two colors in the rainbow of life...just as we all are:>)
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          Mar 21 2012: I think we may just need to agree to disagree on this topic. We'll have to continue to remove posts which question the motives and reading comprehension of other members.

          Thanks!

          Aja
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          Mar 21 2012: Thank you Aja,
          I appreciate, respect and am grateful for the TED terms of use agreement and removal policy
          Thank YOU!
          Colleen
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        Mar 21 2012: Colleen,

        When you misunderstand something, It is a good practice to ask for further elaboration that can help you fully understand. boldly accusing people of mis representing or mis using of words is not going to help continuing a healthy discussion.
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          Mar 21 2012: Although you have told me that several times now Sina, I have not misunderstood anything regarding our discussion.
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    Mar 20 2012: Dear Sangita,

    First of all let me say that we share the same opinion on the comments of dear Colleen, it is always a joy to read her comments. and I am happy that you can empathize with my belief regarding the positive thinking. I was a strong supporter of positive thinking myself years ago but I discovered it does nothing and even it cam make your life even worse. people are afraid to admit that because they are judged by not applying the positive thinking rules properly so they think the strategy is a good one and its their fault that they feel bad.
    I would like to support my argument with the following studies:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/regarding-self-regard/200903/should-we-re-think-positive-thinking

    http://www.ivillage.com/can-positive-thinking-backfire/4-a-410025

    http://www.mensvita.com/negative-side-effects-of-positive-thinking/

    http://www.newser.com/story/62494/positive-thinking-can-make-you-feel-worse-study.html

    I find the power of positive thinking as useful as the law of attraction ! both are not effective at their best and often harmful. but as I told Colleen i am going to try positive thinking for a specific period of time and I will do it purely with no prior conceptions regarding the matter to re-test it after all these years. you guys might find it useful to re-evaluate its effectiveness again being honest to yourself. what you find might not be what you expect. or NOT.
    keep posting your beautiful comments and welcome to TED.
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      Mar 20 2012: Dear Sina,
      Here is another piece of the puzzle. There is more "power" in positive thinking when we let go of expectations.

      You write above..." you guys might find it useful to re-evaluate its effectiveness again being honest to yourself. what you find might not be what you expect. or NOT".

      When we have certain expectations that our positive thinking/feeling will create certain results, of course we may very well be setting ourselves up for disappointment. What happens when we have positive thinking/feeling WITHOUT expectations? Better results in my humble opinion:>)

      The reason is, that if the results are not consistant with our preconcieved expectations, we may be disappointed that our postive thinking/feeling didn't work as we "expected"? When we let go of preconcieved expectations, sometimes things work out in a way that we may not have imagined:>)
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        Mar 20 2012: That is exactly what I mentioned I had in mind to do to re-test this thesis. who doesn't like a life of gratitude and happiness ? ;) ... any tests must be done with no prior expectations, not bad not even good ... all must be done in blank pages ...
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          Mar 20 2012: Dear Sina,
          With all due respect, I do not percieve it to be "exactly" what you mentioned.

          You write..." I was a strong supporter of positive thinking myself years ago but I discovered it does nothing and even it cam make your life even worse".

          You also write..." i am going to try positive thinking for a specific period of time and I will do it purely with no prior conceptions regarding the matter to re-test it after all these years"

          You then advise us...."you guys might find it useful to re-evaluate its effectiveness again being honest to yourself. what you find might not be what you expect. or NOT".

          With all due respect Sina, your statements do not seem consistant. I am honest and clear with myself. Are you "being honest to yourself" as well?

          Sangita and I both addressed your concern regarding expectations, and how that could change the experience of positive thinking/feeling.

          I agree...testing is most successful when done from "blank pages".
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          Mar 21 2012: I agree with you about an open mind and doubt is good because when we question we engage with and keep growing..positive thinking is congruent to passion because it makes the choice clear...you choose to love life no matter what it brings..and when you make this choice there will be no need for positive thinking because there will be no place for the negative..its sounds improbable? but is not ...a rather unlikely example springs to my mind ..its like a baby and its mother ...there may be times when she is frazzled,exhausted ,sleepless and frantic ,but not for a moment do the chores ,the demands, make the love go away and the love sees her through it all...repleneshis her in a continuous constant awareness of having that loved one...ok ok heres where i stop before you think im going overboard..btw all my best wishes to the both of you..Colleen and Sina Elli thank you for starting this conversation
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        Mar 21 2012: Dear Colleen,

        If you read my comment carefully you see that the term "exactly" refers to what I have in mind to do. I have suggested that the test must be done purely and you have duplicated my thought in your next comment and suggested the possibility of an unexpected outcome.

        There is nothing inconsistent in my beliefs. I organize what is said again here:

        1- I have been where you guys are and I have came to this conclusion that positive thinking and rain dancing concept do not work both by my own experience and by discovering many scientific studies that suggest so. I do not think that a marketing website with a nice video that tries to sell a self help book is more worth scientifically than several papers and academic research with no gain that would create biased results.

        2- now that you know what my beliefs are, I am telling you that I am planning to re-try positive thinking and I am going to do it the right way with a clean mind to test what you guys propose. It is not hard to do this because human mind has that ability. I am simply going to doubt my beliefs so that I can make room for new discoveries and when you doubt a concept you clean all your assumptions regarding that.

        If you see a paradox please note that open-mindedness means the ability to change or alter your beliefs. my current beliefs are stated at item number 1 what i am going to find out and perhaps confirm or reject is in item number2.

        regarding what I advise you, It is not a good practice to stick to your current beliefs without any flexibility. I have provided several scientific research results for you to check out and all I am offering is another part of the truth, nothing more. please do not be offended by my advice. you are welcome to keep your beliefs and help me find the truth regarding this matter by doing so.

        and by the way we are deviated from the main question. I am not trying to prove positive thinking is right or wrong as my main point.

        yours,
        sin
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          Mar 21 2012: Sina,
          I read your comment very carefully, as I read all comments that I respond to.

          I suggest that "to doubt" your beliefs is not a "clean mind", nor do I agree that "when you doubt a concept you clean all your assumptions regarding that". I agree..."open-mindedness means the ability to change or alter your beliefs", and it is an open mind that does not doubt...in my humble perception:>)

          I also agree..."it is not a good practice to stick to your current beliefs without any flexibility", which is why I wonder why you continue to doubt positive thinking/feeling. Are you reinforcing your old beliefs, by doubting postive thinking/feeling as a beneficial tool?

          Sorry you percieve a deviation from the main question...I am simply responding to your questions/concerns:>) I percieve positive thinking/feeling as very much a part of passion:>)
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    Mar 20 2012: Perhaps Mr X has already found his passion. He is a researcher and investigator who has an open and curious mind. It appears that Mr X is happy with this. Where is it written that he must choose one area to be passionate about. It may be a matter of defination. The word "love" has been severly abused as in I would love a drink, I love those shoes, etc .. Love has traditionally been a strong affection for another. Passion ranges from suffering to strong liking or devotion of an activity. People display emotions in a wide varity. The fire is not always visable from the outside. I know a writer who is an excellent listener but expresses himself in writting not conversation. This leads people that he is dull and uninteresting. Quite the opposite. The world has both round and square pegs. Lets make allowances for both. Best of luck. Bob
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      Mar 20 2012: Dear Robert (BOB),

      Thank you for taking time and replying. you are right Mr X has already found his passion and the dilemma is that he finds himself in a position to be forced to choose only one and that is not right. as dear Colleen suggested, a new way containing all of these topics can be built if it does not already exist. I am currently looking for a suitable PhD subject and already found multidisciplinary ones that encompass two or three of the topics but not all. I will continue my search and I will appreciate it if you suggest any possible subject that contains them all. i looked at general philosophy but it was not exactly what I thought. is there any subject called idea or thought generation, management engineering ?
  • Mar 19 2012: Think of things bigger than yourself
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    Mar 19 2012: Thank you dear Fritzie,

    I am an active TEDster and I did not find an answer on how to choose one of your ineterests and find out which one is really your passion, that's the reason I asked the question.

    I was not aware of Big Think. thank you very much for introducing this resource , I checked it out and i am sure it is gonna be on my favorites list.

    I am searching for clues to recognize a true passion, for example one such clue for me is that I believe you will never feel tired to do what your passion is. one may read books on cosmology late at night in weird positions but the same person may require a good sleep, a clean desk and a cup of coffee to start reading a book on sociology.
    • Mar 20 2012: Seems you didn't find that sense "you will never feel tired to do what your passion is" on your ineterests.
      That is because it's not there.

      try it!
      or as Larry Smith says: unless.
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        Mar 20 2012: Or perhaps because I find it in all of those topics and that makes the choice harder.