Reclaiming Passion – Work, Love, Life

This issue of Nutrition Matters is a little more esoteric than most but I am sensing an increasing questioning amongst many with whom I work and so I trust these philosophical ramblings may resonate with some of you. In this segment I will be considering the importance of passion in everything. Your profession, your romantic partnership and your short passage through life are to some degree wasted if they do not involve the pleasure, purpose and commitment that is passion.

Work Should be Fun

Our work dominates our adult life. In fact, if we subtract sleeping time, work accounts for the largest percentage of the time remaining. A life "well lived" must feature a job you enjoy. Work should be satisfying, rewarding and pleasurable and if it is not, then perhaps you need to review your situation. I am always deeply concerned for those in positions of drudgery, who are counting down the days until their retirement. "Living in the moment" means enjoying the journey rather than fantasising about the destination. So often, the carrot at the end of that very long stick turns out bitter and unsatisfying. Your life splutters and fizzles to an end, instead of the flame burning fiercely until your last breath.

Recently, I attended a concert in New Zealand by the African jazz/R&B maestro, Hugh Masekala. At 74 years of age, it actually felt like this brilliant trumpet player had yet to peak. He soared with breathtaking virtuosity, with horn and vocal riffs involving unbelievable dexterity and creativity. In fact, it was the best trumpet playing I have ever heard anywhere and I am a musician. Here was a man and his passion. I suddenly felt that it was possible to peak at 90 years of age and that is my new goal. I won't be fizzling and spluttering in a retirement community where lawn bowls and golf replace the sharing of pride, passion and purpose. I am not condemning those that choose the retirement home path but it always seems such a massive waste of accumulated talent. Every culture prior to ours has recognised age as wisdom, but we seem to have lost that understanding and squandered the opportunity to benefit from this huge resource.

I understand that we can not all combine our passion and profession, but if you can't do what you love at least you can love what you do. This is all about attitude and this is something we all get to choose. The trick here is to choose to like what you are currently doing while positioning yourself to follow your heart. Part of the attitude change simply involves always giving your best. This is the key to enjoying any work and everyone else benefits from the positivity you will bring to the workplace. It is really about the whole concept of positive vs negative thinking. It is quite basic when you think it through. How many happy, negative thinkers do you know? The moaners and bludgers in a workplace suffer the longest and least satisfying days and they don't realise that they are creating their own sad reality.

Life is too short to not be doing something that sparks you. Passion is self motivating and it generates vitality, one of life's most precious feelings. Vitality comes from a sense of purpose. You owe it to yourself and the world to do something that excites you, as a world filled with vital, excited people is pretty much heaven on earth. The Sanskrit word for "your purpose in life" is dharma. We find joy when we discover our unique talent. It seems to be a universal law that we are much more likely to discover those talents when we ask "what can I give?" rather than "what can I get? In agriculture, I often refer to the childlike passion that growers reclaim when they begin to work with a natural system rather than against it. The Nutrition Farming® approach is regenerative rather than extractive and it is this "giving" that confers part of the passion and excitement.

"Real Love" vs "In Love"

Our most basic emotional need is to be loved by another human being. We need to differentiate here between the short burst of blind intensity that is being "in love" compared to the "real love" that grows from reason and choice rather than desire and need. This kind of love unites emotion and reason but it is not obsessional. It involves an act of will and requires discipline and most of all it must accommodate the need for personal growth. This is very different from being "in love".

The "in love" experience is both euphoric and obsessional but essentially unrealistic. In all the wonderful intensity we have overlooked the reality of human nature. We are naturally egocentric and we are seeking someone to make us happy. Dr Dorothy Tennov, has concluded that the average lifespan of a romantic obsession (the honeymoon effect) is about two years. When the magic of love fails to satisfy underlying fears and a sense of lack, we can become frustrated that new partner was to be the key to our happiness and the blame game begins when expectations are thwarted. The reality, of course, is that we need to abandon expectations and recognise that "we are the one we have been waiting for". Our personal happiness can never come from outside ourselves. It can only come with an inner peace and contentment. When we love ourselves then we are equipped to truly love another and true love is without expectation. However, it will be a much better experience if the relationship fulfils our emotional requirements. This is what relationship specialist, Gary Chapman, refers to as "our emotional fuel tank".

Topping up the Tank

It is often the case that "real love" can't begin until the "in love" thing has run it's course. More often than not there is nothing left after the honeymoon effect and hence we see 40% of first marriages fail, 60% of second attempts flounder and there is no "lucky third time". 75% of third marriages also fail. Perhaps we need to look at tools to improve these statistics. The concept of "an emotional fuel tank" relates to the fact that the driving emotional need for love must be met if we are to enjoy emotional health. This can involve an intentional, rational, volitional love that can lead to an excitement beyond infatuation. If we can strive to keep our partner's emotional fuel tank full, then there is security, increased happiness and a greater chance for both partners to achieve their highest potential.

Dr Gary Chapman’s best-selling book, "The Five Languages of Love", is based on the concept that we all have one specific "language" that speaks most strongly to each of us when it comes to love. This is your opportunity for you to ascertain your language and the language of your partner. The five languages include:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Words of Affirmation

Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other. This is not insincere bullshit, but a constant recognition and appreciation of all that is good in the other person. It is all about looking for the beauty and the more you seek beauty rather than faults the higher your likelihood of also loving yourself. It is really about a different version of the law of "give and you will receive". It also involves the law of gratitude in that the more you feel grateful and express that gratitude, the more you will have to feel grateful about. This might include compliments and encouraging words but it is important to realise the importance of forgiveness in this equation. Bitterness is not the breeding ground for positive affirmations. It is so common to pollute a new day with yesterday. Bitterness, resentment, revenge and anger are not the way of love. Forgiveness is an expression of love and when you give, you receive. Many people believe they can punish others by refusing to forgive them. However, the resenter inevitably becomes the sufferer! The bottom line is this. We create rules in our head for how people should behave and resent them for breaking our rules. This really is absurd. The universe doesn't operate on guilt and blame. They are emotions we created.

Quality Time

Here we are looking at a key vehicle to create intimacy and the respect and trust that togetherness can achieve. There is no place for multi-tasking here. We are talking about undivided attention. Quality conversation is about empathetic dialogue. Here are some keys:

Refuse to interrupt – recent research reveals that 17 seconds is the average time before interjection.

Observe body language – sometimes body language is conveying a different message to the words.

Maintain eye contact – this is the essence of undivided attention during conversation.

Listen for feelings – identify and confirm key emotions in a dialogue.

Receiving Gifts

Gift-giving appears to be a fundamental expression of love that transcends all cultures. For some of us, these physical symbols of love speak the loudest. Physical presence in times of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give, if your partner's primary love language is receiving gifts. If you are a "tightass", living with someone who responds so well to receiving gifts, then you must overcome your miserly instincts. This is your investment in life's most important relationship.

Acts of Service

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at one point to demonstrate the expression of love by an act of service. All of the eastern philosophies feature the concept of selfless service as a tool to learn the art of unconditional love. Gary Chapman's wonderful little book contains several relevant observations including:

  • What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we do afterwards.

  • Love and associated service is a choice. It is not something that can be coerced. Requests give direction but demands are invariably destructive.

  • Notice the nag tag – people tend to criticize or nag in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. If you understand this likelihood, you can make this nagging a cue rather than an annoyance.

  • This language often involves individualised dialects. For example, don't assume that mowing the lawn is the right act of service to fuel the tank. She may see that as an act of neglect for example as her father often mowed the lawn to escape her mother! The partner must identify the act service that switches on the light.

  • Stereotypes may need to be overcome. Traditional roles may not trigger the desired response. Ironing, cooking or vacuuming might be more effective than painting the house.

  • Take away the guesswork. Always ask your partner what daily act speaks love for them and be prepared to perform that service, even if it is a surprise.

Physical Touch

Babies who are held, hugged and kissed are more healthy, emotionally. Conversely, in animal studies, where physical contact from parents is withheld, the subjects involved become increasingly unbalanced. A tender hug communicates love to any child but it shouts love to a child whose primary love language is physical touch. The same is true of adults. Physical touch can make or break a relationship. Withdrawal of touch is a principle signpost of problems. A touch person responds worst to infidelity. Their empty fuel tank explodes. "Touch" people need touch more desperately in times of crisis. The emotional need for touch is not the same as the need for sex and should not be confused when determining your primary love language. Just reaching out and touching at any time will speak volumes to a touch dependent person.

Finding Your Primary Love Language

This really requires observation. If this is not immediately clear (as it often is) then analyse the actions and words in your relationship that cut deepest. This can help signpost your primary language. Examine how you personally express your love, as this can also be a guideline to what you need. You could also think about what you have most requested of your partner and this can provide a pointer as to the fuel you require for your emotional fuel tank.

Reclaiming Passion in Life

Passion and peace are intimately intertwined even though they may seem to be opposites. Most people agree that they want more love in their life, but love and peace are inseparable. Peace is balance and that is our power. It means aligning with forces rather than fighting them. Biological farmers become passionate because they are now working with a natural system rather than against it. We are happiest when helping others and loneliest when only concerned about ourselves. Again I will return to the farm analogy. We are also happiest when helping others and those "others" in this instance include soil, microbes, plants, animals, fellow humans and the planet. We are loneliest and most unhappy when merely striving to extract a profit while giving nothing back.

Fear and peace are inconsistent, so how do we deal with an uncertain universe? It's simple, you accept it and enjoy it. It all comes back to attitude. The three-fold, attitude strategy that works, involves non-resistance, non-judgment and non-attachment.

The Beatles Got It Right – Let it Be, Let it Be

The concept of non-resistance is best exemplified by the advice of the great Indian philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, who contended that his secret to peace and happiness was best summarised in five words. Those words were "I don't mind what happens". The biggest source of disharmony for many people is that they do mind what happens. The point here is, that it is what it is, and that is the reality. The stress is not necessary if you just fall in alignment with what is. Don't label anything as good or bad but just let it be. It is only when you resist what happens that you are at the mercy of what happens, and external events can determine your happiness or unhappiness.

Peace Through Non-Judgement

This strategy involves a realisation that there are no random events and nor are there any events that exist by and for themselves. The cosmos is not chaotic, in fact the very word means "order". The deeper interconnectedness of all things and events means that mental labels of "good" and "bad" are ultimately illusory. Essentially this involves the acceptance that there is a reason for everything. With the benefit of hindsight and complete honesty most of us can recognise, that there was a purpose in everything that has "happened" to us in the past. We need to hold on to that realisation, while the current things are happening. When we avoid judging those events, our stress levels lower.

Non-Attachment and Living in the Moment

There are four words that best summarise this strategy and they are "this too will pass". Think about every situation that ever stressed you. It passed and you wasted precious time in an necessary state of negativity. When you accept the fleeting transience of all things you reduce your attachment as a result. You can now enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last, without the fear of loss or anxiety about the future. It involves the recognition that this too will pass that brings the detachment necessary to truly live in the moment. Here are some key points that will increase your likelihood of living in the moment and achieving peace of mind.

You have to work at it – develop a daily balancing routine. Walk, meditate, pray, garden or farm. Look inside to see the outside.

Let things unfold – life remains a struggle while you believe it's a struggle. Life is as hard as you choose to make it. If you can learn to go with the flow, accept and observe, you soon learn that things are always as they should be. You can even fake it if you struggle with this concept. Just act as if your life had purpose and it will have!

Live in the moment – this is so hard to do but practice makes perfect. Many people in their restless search for something significant to happen to them, continuously miss the little things that can be the essence of true happiness or what Eckhart calls "the joy of being". There is a common element in the ability to see beauty, to appreciate simple things, to relate to others with loving kindness and to enjoy your own company. This commonality involves senses of contentment, peace and aliveness that are in turn derived from a sense of stillness. To be aware of the little quiet things you need to be quiet inside. You need to quell the 50,000 thoughts (many of which are negative) that flood your brain on a daily basis. A high degree of alertness is required to be still, listen, look and be present. You can become conscious of being conscious with this simplest of tricks. Just say the words "I am" and add nothing further to the statement. For some reason this can link you to the sense of oneness you are seeking. Just say the words and be aware of the stillness that follows. Sense your presence and your interconnectedness. Another simple strategy to increase your time spent living in the moment is to introduce a roundabout in the constant traffic flow of thoughts. This is achieved by simply programming three deep breaths each hour. Breathing is an integral part of all meditation because it is impossible to focus on your breathing and think about other nonsense at the same time. Even female, multi-tasking geniuses are incapable of doing this. After a short time of conscious programing of this hourly, trio of breaths, your body begins to do it by itself and you will find that you are increasingly feeling the peace and contentment that living in the moment can bestow.

Another strategy relates to your attitude toward time – when you believe there's never enough time, there never is! Refuse to hurry. It takes what time it takes.

Build your awareness – see every tree, taste every mouthful, savour every touch and hear every word. One of the very best lessons in living in the moment is to watch your dog during your walks. The dog is present and joyful every moment because it is so aware.

In Conclusion

A life without passion is a life less lived and we are responsible for ensuring that our short lives feature the pleasure, purpose, peace and commitment that together comprise the "aliveness" that is passion. Life is an energy system and if your life is missing something, then consider your own inputs. We cannot receive without giving, and it all comes back to the realisation that we are the key to our own happiness. There is nothing else that will miraculously shape our future - "we are the ones we are waiting for". Passion in work, love and life begins with the meaning and rewards that flow from living your life as a human "being", which is all about living in the moment.

Disclaimer: Information in this article is a guide only and you should seek professional medical advice prior to undertaking mineral supplementation.

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