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The Importance of Finding Passion in Life

Though I don’t always agree with the political opinions of New York Times columnist David Brooks, his editorial, “Gaga, passion and art” (10/23/15), made some excellent points about the human need for living passionately. Too many dysfunctional eaters live without deep passions and end up seeking this kind of immersion in food.

Brooks writes, “I suppose that people who live with passion start out with an especially intense desire to complete ourselves. We are the only animals who are naturally unfinished. We have to bring ourselves to fulfillment, to integration and to coherence.” He explains that people with passion “often have a fervent curiosity about their inner natures and an unquenchable thirst to find some activity that they can pursue wholeheartedly, without reservation.”

The words that stand out here are “wholeheartedly,” “unquenchable thirst” and “without reservation.” How often do you engage in activities in this manner? Overeaters and binge-eaters often consume food in this way, whole hog and full steam ahead, but live life timidly, tentatively and fearfully. What if you were to apply the above descriptors to an activity or interest in your life? I bet that if you did, you’d find what you’re looking for—in Brooks’ words, “fulfillment, integration and coherence” and in mine, total mind-body immersion—when you misguidedly and mindlessly seek food.

Another point Brooks makes is that people “construct themselves inwardly by expressing themselves outwardly.” We’re shaped by what we do and do not do. You eliminate boredom by engaging in activity, reduce loneliness by getting close with others, and feel fulfilled by doing things you can’t help but get lost in. Many dysregulated eaters are sitting around waiting to feel less bored and lonely or more fulfilled. But, as Brooks says, we develop our inner lives by developing our outer ones.

I’m not saying that a lack of passion in life is the sole factor that drives people to mindless, emotional, or overeating. I am saying that passion is a major element of lasting happiness and of a life that makes you want to get up in the morning (well, most mornings) and gobble up every day. If you recognize yourself as lacking passion, consider how you will find it, which may mean deep reflection or experimentation and, most likely, moving out of your narrow, secure comfort zone. Remember, if you’re not hungry, what you need and want is not food. Life is there to live, not eat your way through. Cultivate a taste for passion and do more to fearlessly savor life.