One of the staples of graduation speeches and self help articles is to find your passion. We are told that is we can just find our passion and go do whatever that is, then we will be happy, better, more self actualized people and we had better hurry up and get going on it. There are a number of ways to critique this notion. Are there really that many people out there with a passion for lawn mowing or janitorial duties? (Probably not the best example as it confuses paid occupation with passion)
One aspect I’d like to focus on is whether we are all wired to be passionate. There are creditable articles and studies that suggest that some of the attributes of success may largely be hard wired. Persistence and work ethic, normally thought of as individual virtues might really be gifts that are bestowed on us. This is a good reason to be suspicious of our own egos which tell us that all the good things that happen to us are a product of our own self determined actions.
Would it really be much of a leap then for it to be the case that passion is no different? That for all of the people who are wildly, totally, and completely crazy about some aspect of their life that there are an equal number who are at the opposite end of the spectrum and any number in between. For opposite spectrum folks, they would be okay with any number of things but if you told them they had to live without one of them it really wouldn’t hurt their feelings. Would the people with the trait of passionate be in any way superior to the non passionate? Wouldn’t it be the case that all the advice in the world to find their passion would actually increase their unhappiness and should be avoided? Lastly, for the passionate, would you not expect to see that, depending on their focus, that they may be passionate about multiple things?