We’ve all heard the mantra over and over again – balance is a necessary part of living a happy life. Countless self-help books have preached this message for decades, proclaiming
that it’s possible both to pursue your passion relentlessly and to spend an equal amount of time and energy on other important aspects of life, such as your family.
But this is where a second passion paradox comes in – achieving your passion and living a balanced life are antithetical to each other. Even the harmoniously passionate individual must be completely consumed and singularly focused on achieving mastery. Living a passion-filled existence can indeed involve, as its original meaning implied, a certain amount of suffering and sacrificing time and energy that would be spent elsewhere.
Take a moment to think whether a single extremely passionate, successful individual in history has lived a truly balanced life. Even towering figures like Mahatma Gandhi, who successfully led India toward independence from Britain, lived extremely unbalanced lives. While he preached non-violence and unity to the Indian people, he himself had a very troubled relationship with his son, whom he eventually disowned.
So instead of seeking balance, harness the power of self-awareness to sustain your passion in the long term. Doing so involves regularly monitoring and managing how your passion affects others around you, as well as your own emotions and behavior. In other words, self-awareness means you regularly need to commit time outside of your passion to the endeavor of getting to know yourself better.
Paradoxically, one of the best ways to be more self-aware is to step outside of yourself. For example, start writing a journal about your passion, how it’s developing and how it affects your life – and give yourself extra perspective by writing in the third person. You can then read back what you’ve written and reflect on how your actions look from the outside. Another way to practice self-awareness is to make sure you are regularly stepping outside of the narrow confines of your passion to gain a wider perspective on the world around you. This can be as simple as spending time in nature, listening to music or even ruminating over simple acts of kindness that you witness.
By regularly practicing self-awareness, you’ll be much better equipped to make decisions about what you do in pursuit of your passion.