Last December I embarked on a new career as a yoga teacher, and began working on developing a website and designing my new business cards. I chose the option to have a double-sided card, and as I was deciding what positive message to put on the back of the card, the phrase “Find Your Joy” popped into my head. This little quote seemed inspiring and harmless enough. Little did I know that according to the Washington Post and a forthcoming study from Stanford and Yale-NUS college in Singapore, I may be unknowingly offering bad advice.
The study suggests the idea of “finding your passion” implies that we all have built-in passions, interests or joys (in my case) that are waiting to be revealed. Once we discover the passion or interest, we will embrace it and move on with a wonderful, fulfilling life and our dreams will come true. We can all skip off into that magical place of happiness and wellbeing.
This could all be a deceiving myth. “People with this mindset may be more likely to give up on their newfound interest when they hit the inevitable roadblock,” the study found. Instead, researchers say true passion develops through being open-minded about delving into a new topic, and being willing to put some work into it.
Studies were conducted on 470 participants. In one, undergraduate students who identified themselves as interested in arts and humanities or STEM topics were given articles to read about technology and literary topics. It was found that those who held a more fixed mindset about what inspires them, were less open to topics outside of their interests. It was also found that “students with a fixed mindset lost interest more quickly than the ones who believed interests can be cultivated.”
The study used undergraduates because “they’re young and they’re at a time in their life when they’re being bombarded with the idea that you have to go out and find your passion,” said Paul O’Keefe, assistant professor of psychology at Yale-NUS College and the paper’s lead author. “They might be waiting for that trigger to happen – ‘Oh yeah, that’s my interest after all’ – versus ‘Maybe I’ll take this astronomy class, even though it looks hard.”
After reading this article, I realize this curiosity they mention is what led me to go to college in the first place. I remember thinking “I don’t need college, I know everything I need to know!” Quite a lofty statement at the age of 17! College led me to pursue a degree in Interior Design. I thought “I like color and I’ve always enjoyed drawing floor plans of houses, why not?” When the market hit an all-time bust in 1985, I had the idea “Why not get my real estate license? I like houses, and I enjoy working with people.” This was one of the smartest moves I ever made. I met my first husband, and we partnered and started a real estate company. This company started at the bottom of the market, and we rode the market to the top. A super smart move in the early nineties when there were few companies with websites, and we became one of the first.
Fast forward to 2014 when I decided the stress and hard work was affecting my health physically and mentally. I revisited a passion I touched on in the eighties. Back then I took a continuing education yoga class because I was curious. Over the years I had taken many yoga classes including hosting one in my own home. I went back to yoga after all those years and decided to get my yoga teaching certificate in 2017. Once I received my teacher certificate and started teaching, I was led to continue learning, and I discovered the gong. All of this would not have happened if I didn’t continue to search out answers and have the courage to try something new. Above all, I asked a lot of questions!
Do you have some experiences with finding a joy then expanding upon that? I would love to hear your stories!