Why You Don’t Need to Discover Your Passion

April 29, 2020

Why You Don't Need to Discover Your Passion | Happy As Annie's book club, Best Life Book Club, reads Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Discover your passion!

Follow your passion!

Do what you are most passionate about and you will never work a day in your life!

In Big Magic, author Elizabeth Gilbert tells us to forget about passion when it comes to working, creating, and living our best life.  Here’s what she says to do instead.

Why You Don't Need to Discover Your Passion | Happy As Annie's book club, Best Life Book Club, reads Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Brown daschsund dog with nose in open book on bed)

Because what if you don’t know what your passion is?

There is nothing more frustrating and demoralizing than being encouraged to follow your passion when you’re sitting there thinking, “Uh oh. What the hell is my passion? Why don’t I have a passion!? What the fuck is wrong with me? What kind of lazy, aimless, waste of life has no passion?”

People often tout discovering your passion as the key to happiness and success. Hell, I know I’ve done it. And I think the reason for it was because I assumed everybody has a passion, whether they’ve thought about it or think it’s worth their attention or not.

Sure, my husband would literally fall sick and die if he couldn’t make music. And I would eventually self-combust if I couldn’t write. But not everybody is like that. And that is crucial to understand.

The reality is that not everybody has a clear passion to which they want to dedicate their lives (or at least as much of their free time as they conveniently can).

So do you have to discover your passion to live a creative life?

Why You Don't Need to Discover Your Passion | Happy As Annie's book club, Best Life Book Club, reads Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Close up of woman in knee-high brown socks laying in bed with coffee, string lights, and book of poetry open in her hand)

And what if you have more than one passion?

And then, of course, there are the James Francos and Justin Timberlakes and other “slashies” of the world. The people who have multiple passions, or ever-changing passions.

What do I do with the fact that I love to sing but also love to write? Which is my “true” passion then, music or writing? And what about my dear friend Mary, who is a dedicated martial artist but also a  beautifully talented poet? What’s her deal?

Do we have to pick just one passion to live a successful and fulfilling creative life?

In Big Magic, Liz Gilbert says of course not! There is nothing wrong with having multiple passions. So all the “discover your one true passion” propaganda that annoys the passionless is equally frustrating for those of us with multiple passions.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering, Elizabeth Gilbert is a big fan of James Franco apparently.)

Why You Don't Need to Discover Your Passion | Happy As Annie's book club, Best Life Book Club, reads Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Brunette woman with mint green nail polish on holding brown vintage camera in front of her face)

If you don’t have a passion, just follow your curiosity instead.

Liz Gilbert says to hell with passion! Forget about passion! It’s too high-stakes and nerve-wracking. And, frankly, it’s not necessarily productive or practical to deal with “passion” in everyday life.

Instead, Gilbert substitutes curiosity for passion.

Follow your curiosity. What do you find even remotely interesting or intriguing? What is worth the energy it takes to reach for your phone and Google something? Go with that!

To Gilbert, simple curiosity is enough of a sign or clue for us to follow if our goal is to do fulfilling, creative work or have any other kind of adventure that might enrich our lives.

Follow the minor threads of curiosity and you’re fine, she says. You don’t need to die for something or be head-over-heels obsessed with to be able to do something creative or interesting or exciting. Just be curious enough about it.

And if you do feel like there’s a passion to be discovered…

Funnily enough, our next Best Life Book Club choice is on the topic of passion and purpose! In May, we will be reading Martha Beck’s Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny. This book changed my life, and I am not one for using hyperbole. After reading this book, I quit my job as an attorney, went back to school, and became an English professor. I started writing more and even started my own business for fun! I gave myself a makeover, got married, and felt so much more comfortable in my skin after reading this book. I recommend it to everybody I meet, so I had to bring it in to Best Life Book Club!

If you want to read along with me, order your copy at Bookshop.org and join the exclusive Best Life Book Club Facebook group now!






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Happy As Annie | Why You Don't Need to Discover Your Passion


  • Reply Shayne Spude May 11, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you for the idea of the book. I am always looking for new books to read.

    • Reply HappyAsAnnie May 11, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Shayne! It’s a great one if you are asking yourself questions about fulfillment, happiness, destiny, etc. like I was.

  • Reply Laura May 15, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Loved Big Magic! I’m going to check out Steering by Starlight – thanks for the recommendation!

    • Reply HappyAsAnnie May 15, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      You’re welcome, Laura! 🙂

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