It’s 5 am and aside from the sounds of monkeys howling and birds calling in the distant background, it’s quiet. There is not a cloud in the sky and all I see is blue. I can feel the sand between my toes and a light breeze on my face.
I am at the my favorite beach, excitedly staring at the Pacific Ocean in anticipation of my first wave. I am about to go surfing – the activity I love to do and what I call my “Active Passion.”
Surfing brings me energy, clarity, and joy.
Think about that last statement for a minute. What activity brings you energy, clarity, and joy? I believe the answer to that question will bring you long-term health and vitality.
We all know life gets busy and stressful, and exercise often gets pushed down on the priority list. Most days, if we have to muster any willpower to do it, it simply won’t get done. Magically, when exercise becomes something you truly enjoy it will get done.
I am absolutely not a morning person. I hate getting up early but I’ll jump out of bed at dawn for a surf because I know the joy it’s going to bring me. By participating in your active passion — the physical activity that bring you joy and needs no willpower or motivation to do it — you magically change the conversation in your mind from something that you “should” do to something that you “want” to do. You’ve taken willpower and discipline entirely out of the equation.
If you already know and do your active passion, good for you. But if this is the first time you’ve even heard the term, let me tell you how you can discover yours. Start by thinking about physical activities that you enjoy doing. It might be a sport you used to play when you were a kid. It could be a physical hobby. Now if you’re still not sure, consider these questions:
1. When you were 10 years old, what was your favorite outdoor activity?
2. What sports did you play growing up?
3. Is there a physical activity that gets you excited now?
4. Where do you live and what access do you have to nature? A park? Ocean? Lake? River? Hiking trails?
5. If I asked three of your best friends what you are most likely doing on a day off, what would they say?
Write this all down and see what comes up for you. If you’re still not clear what your active passion is, go out and try different activities until you find the one that you truly enjoy.
As you engage in your active passion more and more, it’s a natural side effect is to want to enjoy this activity more and more as well. When this happens you’ll know you have hit the next step in your exercise progression. This is the perfect time to build upon what you are already doing by bringing in other training modalities (i.e. surf training / cross training).
For me to get better at surfing, I need to improve my cardio endurance to last longer in the water, my strength to paddle into waves, and my balance and flexibility to perform better on the wave. From here, I add sprinting, strength training, and yoga to my fitness routine to address these other areas. These other modalities of exercise have helped me improve and therefore experience more fun and joy when surfing.
With active passion, all your exercise has a purpose and is uniquely tied to what you love to do. Goodbye willower and motivation, hello automatic and joyous exercise.
Here’s the your health!