Passion 101 by Nadia Ballas-Ruta



“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” — Proverb

Editor’s note: Following your heart is not the safe or easy path.    Passion comes with a price, but so does staying in a cage.

This is a guest post from Nadia Ballas-Ruta on choosing passion over fear and living your truth.  Nadia is founder of Happy Lotus Lifestyles and author of The Buddha Blueprint: Building the Foundation for Happiness and Inner Peace.

Without further ado, here’s Nadia …

A Quest for Meaning, Happiness, and Inner Peace

Let me first start off by thanking JD for inviting me to write a second guest post on “Sources of Insight”. I was honored to receive the first invite and to get a second invitation is just icing on the cake.

As you may recall, my first guest post here was about the top ten spiritual lessons I learned on my quest to find meaning, happiness and inner peace. Writing that post was an amazing experience for me and it made me realize that the quest had finally come to an end.

One of the many beautiful things about life is that there is always something new to learn and discover. None of us knows it all and none of us should think that we know it all for that would make life kind of dull. I mean, how can you enjoy the experience if there is nothing that you are curious about?

Waking Up in the Morning with Joy (vs. Dread)

This leads me to the subject of passion. Many people talk and write about living their passions. Many people want to have a life that they love which subtly implies that many people do not have lives that they love.

People talk about living their passions with a sense of romance. Life would somehow become more magical when you are doing what you love. Waking up in the morning would be greeted with joy as opposed to dread. I have seen people fantasize about it as if living their passions was the equivalent to a day at the beach – all beauty and no effort.

The Word Passion Meant Suffering

Get ready…this is where things get interesting because the etymological origin of the word passion comes from the Greek word “pascho” which means to suffer. Up until the 1630s, the word passion meant suffering. It did not mean to live with enthusiasm and joy.

When I first learned about the original meaning of the word “passion”, I was shocked but then as I contemplated it, it made sense. Think about it: every person who has ever achieved something that we admire had to suffer at some point in order to achieve it.

There are numerous stories of people who had to pinch pennies or live in cramped places in order to fulfill their dreams. Those who go off and pursue their passions are not often greeted with enthusiasm. I talk from experience.

My Choices Have Led to Greater Wisdom, Experience, and Joy

All of my decisions (past, present and future) are based on the premise that life should be lived with no regrets. If wondering about doing something would eat away at my soul, I figure it would be far better to “jump off the cliff” and try it as opposed to spending the rest of my life wondering if it would have worked or not.

Not all of my decisions have lead to successful outcomes. I have had to endure a lot of criticism, too. However, the majority of my choices have led to greater wisdom, experience and joy. I am a much better person now than I was a year ago or even ten years ago.

I Threw Myself Into the Fire of Life

I didn’t achieve the wisdom that I have by playing it safe…I learned it by throwing myself into the fire of life. And sometimes the fire of life can be very hard to endure but the wisdom learned is worth every single tear or frustration.

To live a life based on what you love is not an effortless task. A passionate life is not for the weak. Yes, we all can have lives that we love. We each have the potential to create a life based on passion. However, what prevents many of us from doing it is fear.

Greatness is Not Served on a Silver Platter

So many of us are frightened of suffering. We avoid it at all costs. Yet the irony is that greatness is not served on a silver platter. It is earned and you earn it by putting yourself out there and just being true to what you believe and love.

You put up with all the possible distractions that may come your way because to not live your truth would be like selling out. Fear, at its core, is a bully. It is loud and scary but has no substance.

When Fear Talks, Listen to the Wise Part (Discard the Rest)

Whenever fear creeps into my mind, I check to see if it has anything wise to share and if it does, I pay attention to the wise part and discard the rest.

I have come to believe that the reason we love heroes/heroines is because they remind us of what we are capable of doing. We each have the power to add beauty to the world. Whether you are a mother or a banker or both…you have the ability to make the world a better place simply by how you choose to engage with the world.

A person who succumbs to fear is playing life small and there is no merit in playing it small. It is far wiser to step into your full potential and just be you. Don’t morph yourself into something you are not. Just be you, live what you love and believe, hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Passion is not a thing, it is a choice.

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  1. Nadia, Evan,
    choosing to be oneself is like walking nude among others. It takes a lot of thinking and a litle unconciousness maybe. Mostly courage !
    But once you manage to put what you think and what you say and do in harmony it is such a relief ! People will find it sometimes difficult to understand why you have changed, but they will notice. Some will like, some will dislike, but most of the time they will think you are lucky and some will come to discuss with you to see how they could do it too, and that leads to most interesting conversations !
    But what I want to add to your beautifull post is that the sense of urge, once you have found yourself and your passion(s) goes with a sense of responsability. And you will be alone to bear it, and that can be difficult and the source of some suffering.
    Be well

  2. Nadia,
    It’s great to see you here on JD’s site! And I love the message you are sharing today. When we listen to that voice in our heart, embrace what it is saying…and “go for it”…pretty amazing things can happen. As you say, though, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some challenging moments along the way…because there will be. It’s in remembering what this means to us…deep down…and that is something that can really keep us moving toward those dreams in our heart…always…

    Wonderful to read – and I know that you truly are living this…and it is such a joy to see…

  3. As many people know I’m a big fan of dealing with fear head on. I let it overwhelm me for too many years. What helped me was taking small baby steps, slowly growing my confidence and doing work that truly mattered to me.

    The best part about following your passion is the growth that occurs. A person can’t help but grow by leaps and bounds when doing work that matters to them.

  4. Wonderful post, Nadia thanks for sharing… fear can paralyze us from reaching our true potential and the funny part is that a lot of the fears are based on “assumptions or false expectations” that appear real.

    I particularly liked the line up there that says ..”Passion is not a thing, it’s a choice”… pretty much like what Love is..:)

  5. Hi Nadia — thanks for this — yes, being passionate about something, in my experience, necessarily involves giving up the kind of dabbling we can do in life, gravitating toward whatever’s fun in the moment, and so it has to involve sacrifice.

  6. I love this post and the whole idea of passion in all its messy glory! One of my favorite quotes on it is by the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, who wrote:

    “Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”

    Here’s to passion and all it takes from us and gives back in return. 🙂

  7. This is a wonderful post Nadia! It reminds me of a book I have called “After the Ecstasy, the Laundy”. Many people romanicize living their passions, until they are in the thick of things and realize what it really takes to travel that path.
    And I LOVE what you said about checking with your fear to see if it has anything useful to offer you and then taking the wisdom and ignoring the rest. I too find it helpful to “personify” the fear and treat it like the big bully that it is.
    Thanks for hosting this great article, J.D.!

  8. Hi JD and Nadia .. good to see you here Nadia .. your post on “Top Ten Spiritual Lessons” was and is excellent, and I’m so pleased JD asked you back .. we all need to read more from you – I know, I know .. it’s a’coming!!

    You truly do teach us and encourage us to step beyond our now .. to follow our dreams .. and I know that I have changed in recent years .. probably due to my mother’s illness, but I was on that road anyway .. this period has just allowed me to open up and move on out.

    Thanks so much .. great to see you .. Hilary

  9. Nadia, I like how you have positioned listening to the possible message in the fear. It really is wise to see what the specific belief behind the fear is so we can expose it for the bully or fraud it is. I agree we all have special music to sing. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Great post Nadia – I am actually in the middle of reading Buddha Blueprint this week. It’s a very inspiring read (I think I already told you this on your blog).

    As for passion, passion is the fuel that motivates us to be daring, take risks, and go on adventures. Without it, we are more like robots (or worse: rocks).

  11. Quite an A-HA moment for me regarding the meaning of the word passion.
    I am taking away with me this – “Don’t morph yourself into something you are not”

  12. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments. I normally like to respond to each and every one of them but there are so many and I am tight on time. I truly love each and every comment. You all brought a smile!

    The funny thing about writing is that when you actually sit down to write, it is a very solitary experience and you just never know how something will be received. So it is sheer joy to know that this post struck a chord in some of you. I am very grateful.

    And once again, special thanks to JD for inviting me to guest post again. You are a cool dude, my friend.

    Here’s to passionate living!

  13. Hi Nadia,
    The origin of the word passion is quite interesting… thanks for sharing that. It does make perfect sense when we think about. Most people put passion into things that only cause suffering. When the passion of a relationship runs out, couples turn to fighting and soap operas to regain that passionate experience. Undirected passion can send us on a wild-roller coaster ride. We want to focus our passion so that we are expressing our selves fully and authentically.

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