For most of us, our tribulations in life do not revolve around food, shelter or safety. These were the plights of our ancestors. Compared to humankind throughout history, we live in an age of absolute abundance.
Modern man, having his fill of food and access to trivial comforts, faces a much different problem: finding meaning in a world obsessed with frivolity. It’s amazing how much time we sacrifice in order to collect money, much of which is spent merely to alleviate the pain involved in collecting it. It’s a psychotic cycle that produces more anxiety than progress.
Yet, despite this insight, we’re still dependent upon money. We’re subservient to a system based on money, so it is unrealistic to live a life without it, at least one that people can relate to. Therefore, our lives must be a pragmatic blend of work conducted for money and work conducted in the pursuit of one’s passions. An individual who can satisfy both criteria — money and passion — through one line of work will find a deep sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Why is it so hard to align your passion with your work? The truistic, obvious answer is that people’s passions often have little monetary value. It’s difficult to sell non-technical, esoteric knowledge, despite the hype about getting rich by blogging.
However, there’s a more difficult truth to face: your struggle to remain relative.
Relativity and Resourcefulness
If you want to pursue your passions, you have to blow up the outside world. You have to stop being concerned about your position relative to other people. So many of life’s struggles are rooted in our obsession with fitting in, achieving normality or simply appearing significant. Cue the oft-cited quote by Dave Ramsey: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
What does this have to do with pursuing your passions? Well, consider the amount of resources you consume on trivialities, not just money but time and energy as well. How much more could you accomplish if you abandoned the nonessentials?
Can you create, with your imagination, a world in which your work and passions align? Write down what this would look like and, importantly, include details about which of your present conditions are absent in the world you imagine, whether they be habits, relationships, subscriptions, thoughts or objects. This task allows you to realize that progress can actually be made very quickly by eliminating clutter. As long as you are honest with yourself, it’s easy to begin freeing up your physical, mental and temporal space.
It’s essential that each individual takes it upon his or her own self to discover what is truly important in life. Sadly, many people, if not most people, will live as though the future is more important than the present, as though physical possessions will somehow make up for a lack of human relationships.
Be daring. Don’t succumb to the mundane, humdrum tone of existence that has somehow become regarded as society’s standard for life. Forget the rules. Forget the fear of failure or judgment. Forgo the need to impress anyone.
Once you begin down your own genuine path, the gravity of your endeavors will attract everyone and everything you need.
Jared Maplethorpe is an avid traveler, aspiring entrepreneur, lifestyle-design enthusiast and full-stack web developer. He’s also the creator of NonProfitIO, a project devoted to building connections between nonprofits and high-tech volunteers.
Image credit: CC by Karl Sinfield