Why Following Your Passion Is a Bad Idea

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Yes, it might very well be true. I agree with Mike Rowe (the Dirty Jobs guy), that the current mantra that blissful happiness will be yours by following your passion, preached from Madison Avenue to Hollywood, and all points in between, is most likely flat wrong, and is likely the single worst piece of advice ever given.

How could this be? How is it possible that going in a direction opposite of our dreams could actually turn out better for us?

If the Answer Isn’t Following Your Passion, Then What Is It?

Most people are ignoring the bigger picture of what life is really all about. That picture has at least three major components that I’ve garnered from Rowe as well as Jane McGonigal’s book “Reality Is Broken”:

  • We were meant to live lives of meaningful service to others.
  • It is highly important to work at something much bigger than ourselves.
  • Being in a state of awe is the most blissful experience that a human can have, and awe can only happen when we come face-to-face with something mind-blowingly larger than ourselves.

None of these things is possible if we pursue our own dreams and goals in a context of making ourselves happy with no consideration of the greater good of those around us, as well as the much larger context of the collective human experience.

I think we all need to keep looking for the need that we can fulfill that only we ourselves can uniquely fill, and do it with our own style, no matter how nasty, dirty, or difficult that job may turn out to be. In giving to others we find the happiness that we’re looking for, because “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving“.

References

Mike Rowe: Learning from Dirty Jobs, TED 2008

Reality Is Broken, by Jane McGonigal

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