Use Your Passion, Expertise To Find Purpose

By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service.

Many years ago (when I still had hair), I also had the privilege of working with Dr. David Viscott, MD, an eminent psychiatrist. I became his intern, and we were able to work together for several years. Dr. Viscott wrote dozens of books, was one of the first radio/TV shrinks and spoke to people all over the world.

No matter where he went, someone would always ask the same question, “What is the secret to happiness?” Dr. Viscott would always pause and smile because he knew that the question was coming, and his answer always blew the audience away.

He always said that the secret to happiness is to discover your gifts and to share them with the world. These days, it has never been easier to do the sharing part, because we are all so connected through the Internet and social media. Perhaps discovering your gifts is the bigger challenge at this point, since getting them out to the world can be a mere click away. So how do you go about finding out what gifts you embody that are important to share with your fellow human beings?

Start by making a list of things you are passionate about. The environment, success, football or reality TV, it doesn’t matter. When you have passion, it creates drive and confidence, and when you believe in yourself, others believe in you, too.

Now make a second list of things you know a lot about or are an expert on. Sometimes we are really good at things we may not feel very passionate about, and that’s okay. The trick here is to integrate what you are good at with what you want to do.

For example, one of my former radio show producers was a professional sports nut, but she knew that playing for the NFL was not going to happen for her, so she looked for something that might fit her talents and passion. She was very good at her job, and also good at dealing with people, so interviews, though scary, went well. But nothing rang her bell until she got the opportunity to work at a new sports network, and all her dreams came true.

It wasn’t the picture she painted in her head, but she said to me that she’d rather be in a warm studio than on the field at Lambeau in the dead of winter. Her passion for sports wouldn’t allow her to be truly happy until she could work in the field, and she prefers this job to being on the Gridiron facing a 300 pound linebacker.

You have to give new opportunities a chance to blend into your current life and dreams. Once you devote the time and energy necessary to create the life you want, happiness comes with it. Most people who do what they love and love what they do are pretty happy in general.

Living your purpose will add years to your life and life to your years. And please remember that it is never too late to find your passion. There are countless people who didn’t “make it” until they were in their 60s and later.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” )

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