I have often wondered why I don’t feel the same pull towards activities that I’ve noticed in others. Have you ever met someone that you were convinced couldn’t survive without partaking in a hobby of theirs? (be it music, dancing, biking, running, etc.) I have, and I always envied those people. It felt as if they were being pointed by their heart in the direction of happiness. I want that, and I would guess many of you share that same thought. Yet we come up with subtle ways of blocking our impulses and feelings which guide these realizations.
I recently came to a realization about some maladaptive habits I’ve been carrying around with me which do exactly that. The summary version is: I pursue things which I’m attracted to, yet ignore possible downsides and sacrifice my own ideals in order to avoid the loss of stopping an activity or loss of connection with a person or group. Now that I’ve realized this, I can see that I do it in business, romance, and my hobbies. So why is this important?
Let’s take singing opera as an example. I’ve been having twinges of realization that maybe I’m not connecting with opera or the people I’m singing with. The above mentioned habit’s response to that was to bury those feelings and continue trying to make things work. Keep singing, keep studying, keep performing. Now, it’s not that I hate singing opera. If that were the case I would have quit years ago. However, because I really enjoy large parts of the process, I chose to ignore reality and continue on as if it were really what I was passionately driven to do. The problem is though, I’m only getting maybe 60% out of the activity. I look at it as if that 60% is better than the 0% I would have if I stopped, but this takes time, money, and energy that I could be using to pursue something that makes me jump out of be in the morning. The cost of continuation of an activity or behavior is not zero.
I’ve since stopped pursuing opera for the time being and I started piano lessons and will probably do guitar as well. I want to be a singer/songwriter. I can feel it. I had my first lesson yesterday and got home and practiced for an hour. I couldn’t break myself away despite needing to get to sleep. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I can’t argue with that kind of impulse. Maybe it will last, maybe it won’t, but it’s here right now. It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve realized this, but I’ve noticed that it’s a lot easier to find happiness when you listen to your feelings and let them guide you towards it.