When you go to a dinner party, who do you pray not to end up sitting next to? The guy with bad breath? The woman who doesn’t stop talking about her ex? Or the person who gives you one word answers to everything you ask him?
While none of these are a great option, I’ll take bad breath and bad vibes over silence any day. No matter what the topic, with someone who responds, you can at least, well, talk. You can engage in a back and forth conversation with them, unlike someone who responds only with ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know.’
My favourite people to talk to at parties are passionate people. They are the opposite of the yes/no/I don’t know guy. Even if I have no interest in cats/ cricket/ cordylines, passion is infectious and I find it’s easier and more enjoyable to talk to them about their love, than it is to talk about a topic I know and love to someone who only gives me bland ‘yeahs’ and blasé facial expressions.
So how can you use this most attractive of all accessories, a passionate interest in something, to your advantage?
Passion as your accessory
If you’re really lucky, you know what you’re passionate about. You read the above intro and thought to yourself, that’s me! I’m the person you love to talk to at parties. If so, well, you’ve read enough of this article. Take this tip and go flaunt your passion, knowing you’ll be well styled to impress wherever you go.
If that’s not you, though, then read on.
Basically, if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, then you have two options: Find your passion – or turn finding your passion into a passion.
Option One: Find your passion
Not as difficult as it might first seem. Here are some ideas to finding out what might light your fire.
* Go back and revisit all those things you loved to do as a kid. Children are naturally passionate and enthusiastic about things, and they just follow their hearts – they haven’t learnt to be influenced by others or to get busy yet. Good clues to finding your current passion can be sourced from your childhood.
* Take a week to rate your life. This takes a bit of effort but the results are really interesting. Every day for a week, take the time to rate the things you do for how satisfying they are. Two things will happen when you do this: You’ll be surprised at the numbers you give to different activities, and when you realise that what you’re doing isn’t very satisfying, you tend to change it pretty quickly if you can. For example, you might normally read a book on the bus. It’s okay: 5/10. But the day the person next to you started talking to you, you realised that the experience was worth an 8: and maybe the day after, you don’t bring a book but strike up a conversation yourself. Then next time you go out, you do it again. Soon, you realise you're actually a people person - and you never knew it!
* One new thing a week. This takes the longest but is also the most fun! Take the idea of rating experiences and ramp it up a notch by trying a completely new experience every week for a year. Things like taking a ballet class, watching a hockey game, being the first/last to leave the party, whatever you don’t normally do – try it. This gives you about 50 new opportunities to find what makes you feel most alive in this world.
* Identify your values, and use these to direct yourself into hobbies that fit with your values. If you want more ideas on how to find what you’re passionate about, then be sure to grab my freebie, ‘Welcome to your Valuable Life’. It contains more exercises and examples to help you work out what you value in life(i.e. what you’re passionate about), complete with cheat-sheet worksheets to make finding out as easy as possible for you.
Option Two: Make finding your passion your passion.
This is advanced level stuff, but if you’re really struggling to find a few things that excite you in life, then try getting excited by life itself. If you try lots and lots of experiences and can’t find the perfect fit for you, then it might be your attitude, rather than your activity choices, that stand between you and passionate living.
So, work on your attitude! Practise being curious and interested in novel experiences without placing the weight of expectation on them as being The One thing that’ll fit you perfectly. And if this is beginning to sound like dating advice, well, yep, it’s pretty much the same! Being desperate to find love, whether in a person or your activities, can drive it away with your neediness. Lighten up and enjoy the ride, and you’ll find your passion when you’re least expecting it (and probably on the day you didn’t bother to wash your hair).
Passion as Accessory – Part II
Once you’ve found your passion, how do you best display it?
One of the great things about passion is that passion makes you confident. When you’re excited about something, you become aligned with something bigger than yourself. Having that kind of affiliation makes it easier to open up to others and overcome your fears around being rejected. It’s like merging with all the other people who are interested in your passion, and with all the facts about what you love, and all the ideas that come along with your passion. It’s no longer just you, selling you, when you talk to someone else. With passion, you’ve got a team around you, a supporting crew for your ideas and opinions, and it gives you wings.
Not surprisingly, other people like this. As a group, we like strong, we like confident. And so we like passionate you. The best way to display your passion is to just open your mouth and let it spill out (this will come across as more attractive than that sentence makes it sound, trust me).
Still not convinced? Then check out my article ‘The Top 3 Myths about Confident People’ for more ideas about how to increase your confidence.
The most amazing thing about passion is that you care less about how you’re displayed to other people anyway. You’re engaged with life at a deeper level, and if other’s can’t appreciate that, rather than feel belittled by them, you end up feeling sorry for them for not having the amazing relationship with their life that you do.
From personal experience, I can tell you that I feel way more confident going out with paint on my clothes after a day of messing around doing art activities than I do if I spend that time painting my nails and face. On the surface, maybe I look ‘better’ but I feel worse. When you focus on your appearance, you encourage others to do the same, and the definition of superficial beauty is pretty narrow. But if you focus on something you love, you send the message that you’re interested in something much bigger and more enduring than your body. The feelings of satisfaction that come with that choice are way stronger and more empowering than the momentary satisfaction that comes with looking ‘nice’. I’ll take paint splattered clothes over perfect make-up any day.
Remember, you've got help with this! Download my free guide and worksheets to discover what your values are in life, and start making the most of your irresistible new accessory.
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.