Wow! Am I ever intrigued with a recent article in the New York Times entitled, Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started). This features a 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine which found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness overall. My dears, this is RIGHT up my alley!
In the article, Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert and author of Off the Clock: Feel less busy while getting more done, advocates finding time for yourself as a means to greater happiness overall. “Life just feels better when you have things in your hours that you want to do,’ Ms. Vanderkam said. ‘There’s moments where time almost has no meaning because we’re so happy about what we’re doing. The more time you can spend in that zone, the better life feels...
Maybe you can carve out a few hours of really fun, cool stuff per week. That will make the other 165 hours that are in a week feel a lot more doable,’ she explained.”
My point exactly
What especially struck me about the article is that we have this belief that we don’t have time to pursue our passions or what turns us on, whatever that might be. And yet, the time IS there when you break the week down and look at working/sleeping and how many hours are actually left. There’s time there!
It’s just that it’s so easy to fritter away that time. Technology as blessing and curse! I sometimes feel like such a fuddy-duddy, when looking at today’s fast-paced world and youth with their faces in their phones makes me remember when we were growing up and we had all this freedom! We would go out to play and the afternoons felt like forever. Time expanded. Now, we are so bombarded and overwhelmed by tidal waves of information 24/7. Everything is so intense.
When time expands
Our passion projects, in which we are SO completely present, provide the experience of transcending time. When you are cooking, for example, time stands still. Or it expands! It changes.
The other thing is that working with your hands—cooking, sewing, painting, any craft projects—becomes truly like a meditation in motion. It’s taking you out of time. When you are working on a passion project or something you really love to do in your inner world, you are so focused that you are beyond what your concept of time is.
You’re giving yourself a much-needed break from the immediacy of everything else. When you are working on something that you are truly enjoying, you’re not reaching for your phone. Your mind is getting a much-needed rest while feeling inspired, motivated, joyful, and fully engaged!
A remarkable turnaround
Don’t miss Andrew Rea’s story in the NY Times article. 6 months before starting his internationally popular Binging With Babish YouTube channel, Andrew was so overwhelmed with depression he could barely get out of bed. Combining his passions for food and filmmaking lead to a new and rewarding career and a channel with over 3 million subscribers. He credits the project with saving his life, and says simply, “I was happy again.”
Here you’ve got this guy who used his passion for food and filmmaking to find meaning in his life and get himself out of a major depression! There is definitely hope.
My own personal story
I realized at one stage when I was in the thick of writing books there was no balance. I always felt that I didn’t have time because I was on a constant deadline. That may have been true or not true. Now, knowing what I know, I could have been more careful to not be always tethered to my desk. It’s heavy lifting writing a book. But there are times when it’s important to stop and go do something completely different. Yeah, I would take a walk with the dogs. But I was SO tied to my desk, reacting to emails, reacting to new research. So I had this perception that I had no time!
By the time I got to my last book, I had to shift my focus, to do something a bit different.
That was the second edition of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen. I realized I was trapped in being too reactive, and that maybe it was time to explore something I really loved doing. Certainly, I did that in between books. But it couldn’t just be that. It had to be a conscious decision about how I live my life. I wondered, what can I do to feed myself (no pun intended!) in a different way, so I can get into that space of transcending? And of course, as soon as I started doing that (read about my passion for art here) I had so much more to bring to my work—and to my life!
This is the crux of the biscuit. Your whole life is not a deadline! But if you’re living your life as if it is, you are likely to get to a place where that doesn’t work anymore. I’m especially seeing this now in my age group. We’re all entering another phase in our lives, contemplating what has meaning and what doesn’t. What happens if you don’t have the structure of a high paced something?
It all comes down to making choices.
First of all, we CAN make choices. No one is forcing us to spend all our free time on social media or doing chores. We can choose to do the things that enrich our moments. Not only does time expand and our lives become richer but we find this place in ourselves that allows us to connect and deepen our relationships with ourselves and others. That’s where I feel the juiciness is.
This is brain health, by the way, when you put yourself in the creative zone, engage in meditation in motion, and use a different side of your brain. There is neuroplasticity that’s going on, you’re regenerating yourself—which is just as important as exercising and eating the right foods! You could be drinking your green smoothie, but if you’re overwhelmed with clutter and chaos, it doesn’t matter what you eat. The context matters.
Cooking with a friend
Here’s an option I’ve shared before, with enthusiasm! If you are looking to enrich your life and transcend time, do what I do and cook with a dear friend.
Join me and my dear friend and Soup Sister Julie Burford in my kitchen as we make Julie’s Hungarian Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup. Our times in the kitchen are unforgettable!
Of course, I have the perfect recipes for transcending time in the kitchen!
Saffron is one of my favorite spices to cook with. Yes, it can be a bit costly, but you really need very little saffron to get a huge bang for your buck. Here it gives a luscious, exotic taste to the carrots, which are naturally sweet. Saffron is also a visual delight; in this soup the saffron looks like monks’ robes tossed against a vibrant orange background. Consider this dish a treat for all your senses.
This one reminded me of how Edison must’ve felt inventing the lightbulb: it took a lot of tries, but once I hit on the right formula, shazam! I knew we had a winner when I walked into my husband’s office, brittle in hand. He was so deep in thought at his computer screen that he didn’t even see me. I just said, “Gregg . . . open mouth.” In went the brittle, his eyes still glued to the screen. “Gregg . . . close mouth. Chew.” I was halfway down the hall when I finally heard his voice echo off the walls: “This is REALLY good!”
Isn’t your mouth watering already? Talk about an alluring recipe. Masala is Indian for a spice blend, most notably those used in teas (aka chai). This incredibly comforting libation heals both body and mind; the spices, notably turmeric and cinnamon, have outstanding anti-inflammatory properties. I recommend this chai to anyone whose appetite is waning or who finds him-or herself with a touch of indigestion. Besides, it’s a beautiful golden color and utterly delicious!