Pursuing the Excellent Life
April 19, 2023

Fueling Your Purpose with Passion: A Guide to Living a Fulfilling Life (Five-Minute Flourishing)

In this episode of Live Well and Flourish, Craig dives into the relationship between purpose and passion, and why they are both crucial components of a fulfilling life. He explains why purpose is the foundation of a flourishing life, and how it requires deep reflection and introspection to uncover. However, Craig also acknowledges that passion is a powerful force that can drive us towards great things, but it must be balanced with reason and aligned with our purpose.

Craig provides practical guidance on how to discover your purpose, and how to use your passions to fuel your pursuit of that purpose. He emphasizes that there are infinite ways to pursue your purpose, and that the best way to follow your purpose will change over time as your passions evolve.

Throughout the episode, Craig shares personal anecdotes and insights from his own journey of aligning his purpose and passion, and provides actionable tips for listeners to do the same. This episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to live a more fulfilling, purpose-driven life while staying energized and motivated by their passions.

Live Well and Flourish website: https://www.livewellandflourish.com/

The theme music for Live Well and Flourish was written by Hazel Crossler, hazel.crossler@gmail.com.

Production assistant - Paul Robert


Craig 00:00

Welcome to Live Well & Flourish, I'm your host, Craig Van Slyke.

Over the two years of this podcast, I’ve talked quite a bit about the importance of having a purpose in your life. But, I continually hear advice along the lines of “follow your passion.” Generally, I would roll my eyes at this, because I viewed it as a naive, although well intentioned, view. Frankly, under our current economic and social systems, focusing entirely on passion is a pipe dream for the vast majority of people. To me, following your purpose gives you a much better chance of living an excellent life, while continuing to provide basics like food and shelter (you know, that stuff). So, I decided to do an episode about why purpose is more important than passion. In fact, my initial title was “Purpose > Passion” (I’m a geek, so the title used the greater than sign. Remember the big end goes towards the higher number.)


Craig 00:56

But then I realized that I was coming at this from the wrong angle. Thinking about one being more important than the other isn’t the right approach, although if I had to choose just one to guide my life it would be purpose. Really, though, purpose and passion can have a mutually reinforcing relationship. The way I think about it is this: If your purpose doesn’t align with your passions, it’s going to be really hard to sustain your pursuit of that purpose over a long period of time. Compare having a job where you love what you do to one that pays well, but you hate your daily activities. One is a joy, the other is drudgery. Purpose is kind of the same. If you use your passions to pursue your purpose, it won’t be hard to pursue that purpose over a lifetime. (There are a lot of P words in this episode.)


Craig 01:50

Passion is a powerful force, a force that can drive you towards great things. Passion is a great motivator. But passion is fueled by emotion, not reason, and as regular listeners know, living a flourishing life involves living a life according to reason and virtue. Passions are all about emotions. In fact, you'll often see the word emotion used in definitions of the word passion. Basically, passion is a strong, emotional drive or enthusiasm for something. In most cases, passion just kind of is, we don’t think through it in any meaningful way. It’s kind of hard to logically make yourself passionate about something. You just are. Yeah, passions develop and evolve over time. When I was young, I was passionate about playing basketball. Today, not so much. Back then, I wasn’t passionate about philosophy; today I derive great enjoyment from what my friend Andrea would call “doing philosophy.” You can use reason and should use reason when we reflect on your passions, but the driving force is still emotion.


Craig 03:01

Purpose, on the other hand, requires thinking carefully about your place in the world, about your values and your priorities. Uncovering your purpose requires deep, careful reflection and introspection. Once you determine your purpose, you use reason to develop ways to pursue that purpose.


But a full life involves both reason and emotion. Reason and purpose give you a stable foundation for living a flourishing life. Emotion and passion provide the energy and motivation for pursuing your purpose. One without the other is incomplete.


But there needs to be a balance. If you focus too much on passion, you’re like a ship with no rudder. You’re going somewhere, but God knows where that somewhere is. You might do a lot, but your activities will be inconsistent and lack direction. But, if you try to pursue a purpose for which you have no passion, you’re like a ship that doesn’t have enough fuel. I’m not sure the ship metaphor is working here, but hopefully you get my point. If you don't have passion for your purpose, you're just not gonna be able to sustain it. Find a purpose that aligns with your passions and you’re set up for a flourishing, meaningful life.


Craig 04:17

But how can you do this? The important thing to remember is that there are an infinite number of ways to pursue your purpose. The best way to follow your purpose will change over your lifetime. I used to pursue my purpose as a dean, now I do so as a podcaster. Same purpose, different methods. As your passions evolve, keep finding ways to use your passions to pursue your purpose. This requires reflection and reason, of course, but you should be able to keep your purpose and passion in alignment, so your life will have meaning and you won’t run out of fuel.


So, to sum it up: Purpose should be the driving force behind your life, while passion can provide the emotional energy and motivation needed to pursue your purpose. It's essential to find a balance between the two and to ensure that your purpose aligns with your passions. Do this, and you'll be more likely to sustain your pursuit of purpose over a long period of time and ultimately live a flourishing life.


That’s all for this time. Talk to you next week. Thanks!