If you’ve ever told yourself or have been told to “find your passion” or “rediscover your passion,” this article is for you. Instead of doing either, I want you to find your “inspired mission” because that is where true inspiration derives from. 

Passion or mission?

I love the study of etymology. Ever since I was very young, I’ve loved looking up the etymology of words to discover what they originally meant. 

If you google the word “passion”, you’ll see that it comes from the word “pati” and “passio”, which originally meant “to suffer”. 

The term “compassion” thus means “to suffer with another”.

Therefore, it may be surprising to some people that the word “passion” references ungoverned and uncontrolled behavior stemming from our animal like nature instead of a more inspired feeling of enthusiasm (en theos) meaning the god within. 

In my mind, “passions” are very different from having an inspired purpose or mission

The etymology of the word “mission” means “to release or send forth”. 

I often say to people that those with a mission have a message. As such, I believe that:

  • An “inspired mission” refers to an INTRINSIC calling where you’re inspired spontaneously to act from within – without need of any external rewards or punishments, while
  • A “passion” indicates an EXTRINSICALLY derived reaction where the world runs you from the outside by offering you an intense seeking reward or avoiding punishment to externally motivate you – for example, pride, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, and wrath.

Why do some people become a slave to their passions while others become a master of an inspired mission?

Knowing and living congruently with your HIGHEST values is key to living with an inspired mission. 

I rarely do a presentation or write an article without talking about values because I’m certain that values are the foundation of human behavior. 

Like for you, everyone has, a unique set of priorities, or values that you and they live life by. Whatever is highest on your list of values, the thing that is most important in your life, you tend to be spontaneously inspired from within to do and to fulfill. You are not likely to need any extrinsic motivation or motivation from the outside to get you to do it.

Think of a young boy who loves playing online games. He’ll find every opportunity to play them without being asked, reminded, or incentivized. When asked to do his chores or finish his homework, he may need external motivation to get those done. 

So, whatever your highest value, your telos, or your end in mind is, that’s the most meaningful, most purposeful, most inspiring, most fulfilling, and most empowering thing you can do. 

Attempting to live by your LOWER values or priorities:

When you attempt to live your life according to your lower values on your list of priorities, you will tend to require greater degrees of extrinsic motivation to get you to do so. When you do, instead of your blood, glucose and oxygen going into your forebrain, which is where you see a vision that is inspiring to you, where you strategically plan how to achieve, where you mitigate risks and find solutions, and where you execute those strategies and solutions, the blood, glucose and oxygen go into the amygdala and the hindbrain, where trial and error based hindsight, not foresight rules your life. 

Your amygdala is also your desire center and not your executive center, which is the forebrain. The desire center seeks that which is pleasure and avoids that which is pain. In doing so, the amygdala tries to separate pleasure from pain while the executive center embraces them both and sees both as being essential in the pursuit of your inspired mission. 

Imagine, as an example, that you are out there in the wild seeking prey for food while also having no predator. You would be likely to diminish your fitness because you would more gluttonously eat. Having a predator present would likely result in your eating just enough to maintain or sustain maximum life and fitness, but not too much where you would become slow and fat, and an easy target for a predator. 

So, maximum development and fitness occur at the border of support and challenge, prey and predator, positives and negatives, pleasures, and pains. 

When you live in your highest value, which is your inspired mission, you tend to embrace both more objectively. 

Objectivity means “even-minded, balanced minded, neutral”. However, if you are functioning from down in your amygdala, trying to avoid one side and seek the other, trying to avoid the predator and seek the prey, you’re not likely to maximize your potential. Instead, you’re likely to be looking for a fantasy – a pleasure without a pain, which is unobtainable. 

As the Buddha says, the desire for the unobtainable, pleasure without pain, and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable, pain without pleasure, is the source of human suffering. And this form of suffering is the source of word passion. 

So, when you are functioning from your survival-based amygdala and living by lower values, you’re also most likely to be subject to passions – infatuation with somebody, craving for food, or uncontrollable rage towards anyone that challenges you. 

I’m certain that these passions are ungoverned reactions to external stimuli that you see in an imbalanced way. 

When you’re infatuated with someone, you are conscious of their upsides and unconscious of their downsides. 

When you’re resentful to someone, you are conscious of the downsides and unconscious of the upsides. 

In both cases, you have an incomplete awareness and are not fully conscious. However, when you live in alignment or congruently with your highest values and activate your executive center and your inspired mission, you’re more likely to be fully conscious of the pros and cons, positives and negatives, and advantages and disadvantages and embrace them both in your more meaningful pursuit. 

You’ll also tend to manage more effectively what leadership roles demand, which is embracing both sides of your life’s events neutrally. Hence, you will have less fear of losing any impulsive fantasy and less fear of gaining any instinctual nightmare. 

Instead, you can perceive people and events more resiliently and wake up your creative genius, while pursuing challenges that inspire you, and thereby accomplish something that contributes to the planet as an inspired mission, thereby “sending forth” your message into the world.

To read the full article, visit https://drdemartini.com/blog/are-you-a-slave-to-your-passions-or-a-master-of-your-mission


  • Dr John Demartini

    Human Behavior Specialist, Educator, Internationally Published Author and Business Consultant

    Demartini Institute

    Dr John Demartini is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author. He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award.

    His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today. His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.

    To find out more visit: www.drdemartini.com or search for Dr John Demartini on your favorite social, podcast or media channel.