The natural world is full to bursting in August - nothing is held back, nothing is begrudged or stinted. Maybe we can learn by watching this wholesale giving. There are times when we need to conserve our physical energy but this isn't one of them. And it is certainly not a time to hold back emotionally. In fact if we learn to live life with pure passion and joy we could find life a much more delightful place.
You know how some people are so passionate, so full of life and the joys of living that they virtually leave you breathless? Well, why shouldn't we all have that sense of wonder and delight? It doesn't mean that we have to become different people; just that we try to introduce a little verve and enthusiasm into our daily lives.
People think of passion as something that is inevitably to do with sex. Well yes, it is, but passion itself is much deeper than just sex. It can touch every corner of our lives.
I learnt a great deal about the power of passion from the absolutely gorgeous American lecturer and workshop leader Denise Linn who is the living embodiment of passion. A five minute conversation with her is enough to kick-start your whole week. ‘Passion is about living life to the full; it's about excitement; about making life really worth living,’ she says. But surely passion is something you simply either have or you don't have? How can you learn to be passionate? Denise says that, although as children we are naturally passionate creatures, as we go through our teens and into adult life we gradually learn not to be passionate.
We are taught that to be an adult is to be calm, in control, rational, considered - even cynical. The passion is inexorably drawn out of us until we have forgotten what it means to cry at a sunset, to become lost in a painting, to giggle like a child.
Society regards passion as emotion out of control, as an irrational force that, left to run wild, would grind industry to a halt within the day. In fact quite the opposite is true. Live your life with passion and you will become more effective in your work, more pleasant to live with and, most importantly, you will enjoy life to the full.
Denise insists that risk and passion go hand in glove. By learning to confront our fears of looking stupid, of making fools of ourselves, we can begin to take risks in life. Once we believe we can stretch ourselves and do more, we can start to find out what we really want to do with our lives: instead of living life safely, we will begin living passionately, to the full.
DENISE’S TEN POINT PLAN FOR RECLAIMING PASSION
1. Look back and remember what made you passionate as a child. Tune in to that sense of childhood joy and maybe try reclaiming some of those activities.
2. Think about what you are passionate about now. What activities make you really lose yourself? What causes are you passionate about? Get involved.
3. What stops you being passionate? Work out what beliefs or anxieties prevent you from living with passion.
4. Take risks. Even small risks help you to push through your fear boundaries and gain confidence. Be willing to make mistakes.
5. Be kind. Random acts of kindness (leaving a flower on desks at work, feeding a stranger's parking meter if it's run out) have a chain-reaction, making everyone feel good.
6. Make a commitment to include activities you really enjoy into your life.
7. If you hate your job, find something - however small - that you can enjoy in it.
8. Imagine you were at the end of your life, looking back. What would have given you fulfillment that you didn't do? What would you regret not having done? Why not do it now?
9. Maintain passionate relationships by keeping your imagination alive. Be spontaneous every so often - whisk your partner off for a picnic, buy a surprise present.
10. Get in touch with your body. Experiment with movement and music. Crank up the music and street dance round the kitchen. Dance is a wonderful means of freeing the straightjacket self.
This is an edited extract from the August chapter of my book The Natural Year – a seasonal guide to holistic health and beauty. Now available in e-format for Kindle and containing a lot of previously unpublished material. The book is a season by season, month by month guide to living in tune with the natural world.
"I read (and re-read!) this book many years ago and it inspired me and filled me with great hope. After loaning the book to several friends it eventually found a new home and I hope someone is now enjoying it as much as I did then! The philosophy seems so simple, yet it is so meaningful..." (from Amazon.com review)