What Happened To Passion and Gratitude?


I think that in order to live the best life possible, we must every now and again ask ourselves some tough questions in regards to how we’re approaching life and our work. In my experience these questions arise when we’re taken by emotional pain, a temporary lack of gratitude, or the inevitable dulled sense of love for one’s work that occurs after doing it for some time.

Many of us experience times where we run out of ideas, come up against a seemingly impossible challenge, or we simply lose the joy for what we love to do and feel frustrated to the point where we may even fantasize about throwing in the towel.

The documentary STRIPPED goes over the history of many popular comic strips and their creators’ climb to success. The film details how many of these cartoonists had a golden period of creativity where they were creating out of joy for themselves as they tried to make a living off of their craft. When these artists finally did receive publication for their comics, they came up against a whole other set of challenges, one of which, is keeping the passion for what they loved to do under the stress of meeting deadlines. The grind of having to come up with a new joke and strip every day of the week can be daunting and burnout is not surprisingly uncommon.

It can be a very scary feeling when the passion that you’ve had for something for so long goes away. You can feel lost wondering, “What am I going to do now?” However, these moments can be a great, exciting chance for rebuilding and transformation. In my experience it is important to approach these feelings with compassion and curiosity instead of shame and blame.

I recently found myself in one of those profound ‘questioning-my-approach’ challenges. I love coaching and teaching, however I have the tendency to do it until I burn out or feel stuck. My pattern in the past was to question or sabotage my career altogether. Was it time to change jobs? Move to another city? Take a vacation? Eat some junk food? Buy a big ticket item I don’t need? In my experience it’s often the simpler, less drastic actions that have the most profound effect in re-inspiring myself, in particular re-orienting myself into a place of gratitude.

Recognizing the love and support around me is the best catalyst to rekindle my own love for what I do. @MichaelWoolson (Click to Tweet!)

I’m aware that in extreme cases that burnout may be an indicator that a change of career may be truly necessary. I have had moments in my life where I had to leave the safety and security of one job for another to enter a new chapter of development. Though scary, these brave transitions have proven to be the best things for me both personally and professionally.

Recently I encountered a stage of burnout and found my way back to my passion. Curious about this phenomenon, I asked many friends and family members about their experiences with these similar kinds of challenges and how they re-inspire themselves on their journeys.

Through this discovery process I made a list of creative ways to get you out of a life funk and back into a place of passion and gratitude.

1. Make changes in what you do. Take a new approach, one that excites you. The fresh take will often make you more present and inspired.
2. Feed your soul with a spiritual practice. Activities that connect you to the world helps maintain gratitude. Yoga, meditation, church, temple, go to a support group, listen to an inspirational speaker, etc.
3. Give to others. Find a way to serve others; their gratitude will likely affect you for the better. The positive effects of generosity are expansive.
4. Educate yourself. Take a class, read a self-help book, or any book for that matter, attend a seminar, try a new hobby or skill.
5. Sleep well. If possible, get to bed at a reasonable hour and avoid eating close to when you go to sleep as digestion can hinder deep rest.
6. Eat well. Remember the importance of what you put in your body. Our diet can help bring us to clarity or keep us in a fog. Even subtle changes can make a big difference for your energy levels. Simply giving up caffeine, reducing your sugar intake, eating more veggies, and staying away from foods that drag you down all help your general well-being and thus, your outlook.
7. Exercise. Physical activity such as working out, running or walking has been proven to release endorphins, which in turn change our perspective and mood.
8. Find a new passion or revitalize an old passion outside of your work. Like playing guitar, hiking, biking, photography, dance, etc.
9. Give yourself a perspective check. Remember that there are many others that are suffering in ways that make our problems pale in comparison. I recently read this book, Chasing Daylight, about a man with brain cancer who only had three months to live. After reading this book, it was impossible to keep up my pity party.
10. Write out your blessings. Sit down and compose a list of all the things that you’re grateful for.
11. Spend time with positive people. Surround yourself with those whose lives inspire you. This could be a trusted friend, a comforting family member, or a mentor.
12. Take time away. Often all we need is time to recharge our batteries and relax. Our inner muse mostly visits us when we’re in a relaxed, peaceful state.

Please feel free to use the comment section to add to the list and share your methods that bring back your love and passion.

Michael Woolson has become one of the most prominent and respected acting coaches in Los Angeles. He is recognized for his unique ability to cultivate depth and authenticity from his students in an environment that is nurturing and inspiring. Woolson has worked with thousands of actors from talented up-and-comers to award-winning celebrities. He is the author of The Work of an Actor and Emotion on Demand: An Actor’s Workbook for Mastering Emotional Triggers.

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