TED Conversations

Reem Masri

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How does one find his/her passion?

That is basically what I'm struggling with at the time being. I am still a senior; university's basically one year from now and I still haven't discovered my passion. HELP ME.

  • Jan 14 2014: Finding one passion isn't giving out equally as many would think. It can take years to find what really get's you going. Take this as an opportunity to try many new things. Once you find it remember one thing above all... a true passion is one that touch the soul. If doing your passion/job for 5 minutes feels like 5 hours then that's not your passion. However, if doing your passion/job for 5 hours feel like 5 minutes then 'that,' is your passion. Best of luck.
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    Jan 20 2014: Take some time off from school and go forth into the wilderness, my dear!

    My brain was never healthier than when I spent over a year alone in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, USA in 1977. No TV, no computers, telephone two miles away, and only one radio station made it through the mountains (luckily highly diverse National Public Radio from Ohio University!). After two weeks my dreams became very vivid, and after two months I was able to actively color, modify and navigate within my dreams. Awoke in mornings and typed out hundreds of pages of dream-generated philosophies that have stood the test of time 40 years later.

    I moved near Ohio University the next year and my enhanced right brain was often able to discern what nation or tribe students came from without asking them first. Same with guessing what fields students were studying: Could spot med, law and business students a mile away from their clothes, demeanor, "aura."

    Keep in mind that as you progress in life, you will develop several passions, not just one. In Denmark, with its great "free" lifelong education system, the whole populace is upwardly mobile, with middle-aged folks getting advanced degrees and being replaced at their old jobs by youngsters. Danes change jobs every 3-4 years, and there is no reason most of us can't do that, if we plan for it.

    Go get 'em in college, Tiger Woman! I never made it there- I didn't trust anyone other than myself for the care and feeding of my brain.

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      Jan 21 2014: WHY THANK YOU, SIR. Very helpful indeed!
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        Jan 21 2014: Personally, my passion has been studying the fascinating/frustrating (no yin without yang!) human animal "in the round" from as many intellectual disciplines as possible. Sculptures can only be truly appreciated by walking completely around them, right?

        Early and deep readings in history, however, convinced me that there was something physically wrong with our brain. The "Crown of Creation/Crown of Evolution" that both religious types and scientists brag about so much just doesn't fit on our pumpkin heads... if we are so smart, why do we continually do such idiotic things? Huge difference between intelligence and wisdom, of course.

        Since our brain generates everything we do or create, I cannot escape brain studies any more than the planet Mercury can escape the Sun's gravitation. You see, my dear, brain studies give me excuse to study everything... isn't that way, way cool? Interdisciplinary studies were almost non-existent when I was young, so I taught myself rather than jump from major to major in college at my parents' expense. These days you can design your own major, dipping into many disciplines.

        Don't confuse passion with career- they may be different things. My woodworking freed me from cannibalistic publish-or-perish academic pressures so I could actually learn and think for 40 years before sharing my recently-gelled brain thesis with a number of notable M.D.s and Ph.D.s in my little Right Brain Trust. Happy to share it with you upon request.

        Re college: Keith is absolutely right. Most colleges are drone/clone factories, so you should take the time and effort to vet them thoroughly. Smaller colleges are often better, and sometimes small, private colleges are better yet. About 75% of college grants in the US are supplied by our Department of Defense and Department of Energy, which are Siamese twins.

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    Jan 17 2014: Hi Reem....nice to see you again:>)

    How about having passion for all of life? That's what I've done, and within that time and space, all kinds of things surface as my "passion", because for me, passions may change with the different stages of life. In my perception, passion is not something "out there" to find. It is something that I create and experience in my "self".

    Part of discovering passion in oneself, is living life being fully engaged in each and every moment....each and every interaction.....open hearted....open minded......curious....willing and eager to learn and grow with the experience:>)

    As Sean says....follow your heart/intuition/instinct.....what makes your heart sing? What brings you joy? What feels blissful to you? Once you "feel" what path you would like to take at any given time, you can use logic/reason/thinking/planning to figure out the practical steps needed to follow what is in your heart:>)

    There are quite a few conversations on this topic.....check them out if you have time:>)
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      Jan 18 2014: Thank you Colleen for that! Truly wonderful.
    • Jan 19 2014: Interesting. I like the first part where You say passion is in You and not in doing the things you do. You fuel the experience. That's a good turn in my perspective.
      On the other hand I think we the men don't feel bliss and heart songs :). But it's nice.
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        Jan 19 2014: Hello Jose:>)
        Well said....yes....I fuel the experience, and the experience fuels me. My curiosity and eagerness to learn fuels the interest in something, and once that is in action, the experience or the "doing", fuels more and more interest. It feels like a cycle to me, and the interest or "fuel" starts in my "self":>)

        I don't think you speak for all men, because I know LOTS of men who experience bliss, heart songs, and joy:>)
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    Jan 13 2014: It does not come the same way for everyone. Some people know from when they are young, others discover it as they go along.

    I think the secret is to do what you enjoy doing. If you enjoy many things, find one and stick with it for a period of time. If it doesn't work for you then you can always change to something else. Go for what you want to do. Passion normally unfolds in our doing. You do something and then suddenly realise "hey this is pretty cool!".

    Be open to making mistakes as you go along and enjoy the journey.
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    Jan 20 2014: My suggestion is to stop trying to search for it, and it will land in front of you when you least expect it. I was undecided my first two years of college. I went to visit a women's advocate for a personal reason, when I was meeting with her it hit me- this is what I want to do. Experiencing and feeling the passion that this woman felt about helping women, inspired me and I know I would feel the same amount of passion. I was not searching for it, and my passion found me.
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    Jan 17 2014: Let yourself be carried by your heart at all times. It really works...
  • Jan 16 2014: Keep trying things and living. I found that I loved solving puzzles, cryptography, computer/human interfaces, graphics, etc. It has kept me employed for 50 years.
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    Jan 13 2014: Reem, what is the activity that you enjoy the most? More than likely, that activity is your passion.
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    Jan 24 2014: what do you mean by your "passion"? The thing you enjoy doing the most? You don't know what you enjoy doing the most?
  • Jan 21 2014: Think about what the world needs to do for the better. It could be many things: water, power, literature, math, sciences many many many things just look into what you think we should do and you can try to do better.

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    Jan 21 2014: If music might be a passion for you, Reem, here are two wonderful pieces in the links below. I was lucky enough to play flute in the University of Dayton (Ohio) Symphonic Band my last two years in high school, then play there for another three years as a freelance musician. First chair, second flute, I sat right in front of our wonderful director and heard every note he heard, his baton often missing my head by inches (I'm 6' 5" tall).

    One afternoon in late fall we were playing a very spooky overture, Le Chasseur Maudit (The Accursed Hunter), by Cesar Franck. We flutes had a rest and as I listened to the low woodwinds, horns and tympanis rising and falling in a gradual crescendo like the ominous approach of a thunderstorm, through the windows i saw clouds swiftly scudding past the full moon... Wham! I was suddenly transported out of my body (figure of speech- all is physical in the universe)- just gone. Completely missed the flute sectional a few measures later, with eyes glazed, jaw dropped and flute in my lap.

    After practice, the director asked me, "Where were you in the middle of that piece?" Told him about my being utterly transported by the music and he replied, "That's the sign of a true musician... just don't do that during a concert!"

    My favorite vocal duet- Andrea Bocelli and Maria Sanchez. It transports me every time I hear it. Phantom of the Opera visuals a bit extreme, but appropriate because characters in Phantom are drawn together by music and this song is about the love of music.


    Songwriter/performer Jimmy Webb - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I sang this on the foredeck of my sailboat as we were screaming along at night under a full moon...

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    Jan 21 2014: Find out what you would like to do even if you do not get paid for. Something that when you do, you become free of being self-conscious. You lose yourself in the act. It may be meaningless to others, but to you, it becomes timeless. You may not even feel hunger. There is certainly no extrinsic reward attached to it.
    Find it and see if you can do that for a living, as a job. That is how it is in my world.
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    Jan 20 2014: You will find passion listed under the "real" world. The education system is focused on what corporations and the military want which is obediant slaves, if that tickles your fancy then you are in the right place. If not, go where you are drawn. There is nothing you can not do or be!
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    Jan 18 2014: You may not like or agree with my post since it flies in the face of convention, but given that you are at a critical juncture in your life, I urge you to consider what I have concluded as regards this whole business of passion.
    I call it the 'Business' of passion because an entire industry has developed around it. Consider the following:

    1. Being a senior, if you have not yet discovered an avenue of thought or action that generates a sustained and overwhelming sense of joy and purpose (passion), chances are that society has not yet developed a tailor-made package for your productive enjoyment. I am not being cynical. It is a sad fact that we 'look' for passion rather than...
    2. manufacture it! Tailor made passion-pods exist because society requires essential pursuits be taken up by those that have an affinity for it eg. chemistry, journalism, medicine, political science, graphic design, etc. If nothing out there gets your juices flowing, then you have the option of selecting a pursuit and developing aspects that can foster 'passion' so as to give you a feeling of purpose (purpose is a feeling. Soccer players FEEL purposeful!!)
    3. or, you can choose to feel excluded from the 'priveleged' workforce that gives us a civilised world, wasting your productive years searching for this elusive 'Passion'. The only people I know who find it are hollywood actors who emulate fictional chracters.
    4. If you manage to 'find your passion', the reason for your every breath, then what happens when the passion dies? Do you stop and change, always being slave to the concentrated release of 'feel good' neurochemicals?
    I propose you take ownership of purpose and productivity. Don't make it beholden to an endorphin squirt.

    Once you choose your path, you must apply your mind to discharging your duties to the best of your ability. If you are successful in fighting through the boredom, obstacles, maintaining dogged determination and focus, you will BECOME passionate!
  • Jan 18 2014: Do not be surprised. It is rare indeed to meet a human being, who from an early age, know what they must do in life. I personally have met two such people out of hundreds I have known. One knew she would be a psychologist and the other knew he would be a violinist (Richard Tognetti of the Australian Chamber Orchestra). This is one thing, inside waits your talent that you have been given and yet you also require a set of circumstances to unfold which will reveal this to you. Sometimes your passion is not your talent and then two conflicting parts of you must be reconciled. Some passions come from deep inside and yet others are expected of you to carry on a family virtue for example. Many times this is say family pride not the real passion.
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    Jan 16 2014: Hello fellow senior!

    I have struggled with the same problem, but am not worried. I think we will find our passion by trying out different things. I think my passion lies somewhere in the STEM field (more specifically engineering), but once I take more classes within that broad field I think I will find my niche (word choice?). I found my passion because of internal and external feedback. I have always liked my science, technology, mathematics, and most recently engineering classes; and I have also received positive feedback from teachers (and students) within these subjects. If you don't have a particular subject where this is the case, still don't worry. Just do what you like. This sounds really simple, but I think most truths are simple. Do what you like and pursue this interest until you don't like it anymore (not because of diminishing returns, but because it really doesn't interest you anymore for whatever reason). If you find something in which you never get bored no matter how entrenched you are in it, that is your passion (or at least one of them).

    Sorry if that was too 'stream-of-conscious"y and I hope that helped! Feel free to ask questions or give comments (
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    Jan 15 2014: well, passion might be overrated. Personally I think it's more important to lead a mild life than a passionate one. But one good course in life is to ask a lot of questions, keep learning, ask about details, ask unusual questions that come into your mind even though you're afraid to ask them. Be stubborn, don't give up on your questions, keep asking until you get the answer.
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    Jan 14 2014: I think If you have hope and find your authentic self.
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    Jan 14 2014: Passion is that "thing" that commonly FINDS YOU. Even in dreams.