How Our Passions Can Teach Us to Live Well

Follow your heart to success.

When people talk about a man’s “passion,” the term is typically referring to one of two possible subjects: women and money. Male self-help articles tend to give their readers a moral compass calibrated for financial success or luck with the ladies. Neither of these two qualities are a bad things, but they’re not all that there is to the world, not by a long shot. The simplified distillation of a man’s passions into sex and money shows an unfortunate custom in the realm of advice-giving and one that I think many men should avoid, especially those searching for a sense of purpose and, well, passion in their lives.

The way I see it, the best way to define passion is an activity or ideal that makes a person happy, fulfilled, and purposeful. While money and women (by which I mean having one-dimensional relationships with the opposite sex, i.e. one night stands) may make many men happy in conventional sense of the word, I seriously doubt that it fill those same people with a sense of purpose and meaning. No, I think that men (and women) can find that sense of happiness and fulfillment within themselves way before they make a fortune or meet the love of their life, and the way to do that is by discovering their passion.

A guy can’t be expected to develop his passion or discover where it can take him if he’s too busy trying to adhere to customs and expectations of what he should be doing as an adult.

Again, this post isn’t meant to decry financial or romantic success, but merely to point out that these are only two passions out of an endless array of options available to someone. My goal here is to help men (and women) understand that there really are ways to find a passion that will lead to a fulfilling life without going for get-rich quick schemes or finding a life partner ASAP.

Define your passion outside of conventional wisdom

It’s important to understand that huge societal pressures try to dictate how a man should live his life. Conventional wisdom says that a man should party through college with a mind for a successful career in a financially-sound industry. By his mid-twenties, a man should begin establishing himself in his industry and he should probably be married, maybe even with kids. In this scenario, a man’s passion should be providing for his family.

There’s nothing wrong with this scenario, but it’s not the only option out there available to men. If the idea of going the traditional route in life feels strange or unappealing to a man, I fully endorse and encourage their decision to buck the trend and do something else. I feel that too few men (and women) take the time to discover themselves and find out what makes them truly happy. A man’s passion that might have played out as a mere hobby as a young married man could have led to a totally different and completely fulfilling alternate life had he put in the serious time to develop it. The amateur woodworker might have been a furniture designer; the casual dad blogger might have been a journalist; the car enthusiast may have been an innovative mechanist.

A guy can’t be expected to develop his passion or discover where it can take him if he’s too busy trying to adhere to customs and expectations of what he should be doing as an adult. Men who don’t adhere to the cultural norm of “man the provider” run the risk of being the outcast in their family or circle of friends. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a guy meeting the love of his life at a young age and prioritizing his family above all else. But there’s also nothing wrong with someone who spends time on himself to figure out his true passion in life.

Get in touch with your passion and live well by it

Passion doesn’t have to be something that a man is forced to accept—that about the furthest thing from true passion that I could imagine. Like I said earlier, passion should come from within. As new-agey as it might sound, a man really has to get in touch with his feelings—his wants, desires, aspirations, and hopes—before he can determine his passion. My hope is that some men can do so without relenting to the heavy expectations foisted upon them by our society. They’ll be happier for doing so.

Read more on Work/Life Balance on The Good Life.

Image credit: Daniel Flower/Flickr

About Jillian Terry

Jillian Terry is a freelancer who writes about higher education, the college experience, relationship advice, and life guidance for among other sites. Feel free to send any comments her way!


  1. Too often passion is marketing-speak for “The Rat Race: Now with a patina of hipness”. Good for you for striking a blow for the term’s liberation.

  2. Im 30 years old this is what ive been struggling with for awhile now, my biggest fear is not growing old alone, but growing old without being passionate about anything, thats my biggest fear. I want to love something bigger then myself i want to rediscover the joy i had as a kid.

  3. I needed this today. Thank you!

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