Everyone is seeking an answer. Looking around for that clue as to what to with our lives and how this will make us happy. But ‘Happyologist’ Susanna Halonen, like many others, wants to remind us that happiness is not to be found outside but within us – it’s just a case of unlocking it. Screw Finding Your Passion is about relinquishing the idea that your path in life and your career choice is about finding the one thing you are good at, and instead suggesting that a happy life comes from knowing and using your passion, the passion being ‘positive energy that sits inside you.’ Passion comes from your values, is a motivation, an energising force, the thing that thrills you, makes you feel whole, is important to you, enjoyable and feels worthwhile.
As a happyologist (described as coaching clients to become the ‘happiest, most fulfilled, best performing’ versions of themselves) her work is in the framework of positive psychology, first identified by Martin Seligman and focusing on the idea that mental health should be approached from the perspective of wellbeing and what works well in life, rather than what does not.
Writing from her own experiences of the corporate life and love for horse dressage, as well as case studies and comments from her clients, Halonen’s approach is warm and clear. She herself discovered positive psychology through Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage and subsequently decided to study a Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology. There’s enough exercises and activities included to make it applicable to your life, but not too many that it feels like a textbook.
Kicking off with an explanation of why passion is important, and concluding with applying the learnings to career choice, the core of the book and the most important part is about unlocking your passion – the ‘passion keys’ as Halonen calls them. These includes identifying the authentic you and working from your own values, finding your why and looking not only at what you do but the reasons behind it, mastering the art of learning and embracing a growth mindset, connecting with your tribe and finding energy and support from other people, and playing with your strengths by incorporating them in everyday life. Learning to use these five keys creates what she calls ‘a self-sustaining passion spiral’ in your life and throughout your activities. The more your life according to your passion, the more natural it becomes, and the more it reinforces itself.
Passion isn’t a career choice. It’s not a hobby, or one activity. There’s no point searching for it externally. It’s not what you do, but how you do it. And it’s so important. As this book explains, ‘A life without passion is not a life fully lived. A life without passion is a life without colour.’