Why the $@#% am I not happy?

What happens when you lose your lust for life? A loss of passion and vitality can be bad news for mind, body and soul. Here’s why you should fight to keep the flame alive.

A life without passion can have some pretty serious consequences. How about these for starters?

Decreased motivation

Depression and anxiety

Reduced sex drive

Lack of focus

A drop in productivity 


Emotional eating and weight gain

Alcohol dependence

Ever heard the word anhedonia? It basically refers to the inability to feel pleasure or joy – even from the people and pursuits that would usually make your heart sing. Imagine seeing a stunning sunset and feeling nothing. Tasting the most delicious food and feeling…meh.

This interesting article in The Conversation points out that, as anhedonia is often an early symptom of depression, one way to keep it from kicking in is to make sure you make time to do the things that you’re passionate about. As the article points out: “Evidence also shows that even for those with clinical depression, certain psychological treatments – like behavioral activation, which requires patients to schedule in time to do things that bring them pleasure and joy – improve symptoms of depression.”

The benefits of pursuing a passion are pretty well documented – taking time out from the daily grind to do something that gets your happy chemicals flowing can help with everything from tackling depression and anxiety to giving your career a boost.

While many studies look at the positive impact of pursuing passions, few people take time out to look at the flipside - what are the effects of living without passion? What happens to us when we give up on finding joy? When we strive simply to survive, rather than to thrive?

The impact of Covid lockdowns gives us an idea.

When the pandemic first hit in 2020, people all over the world found themselves thrown into the frighteningly unfamiliar situation of being confined to their own homes.

It already seems kind of hard to believe that, for much of the world, there was basically a blanket sex ban for anybody not already coupled up. Imagine future generations trying to get their head around the fact that nobody was allowed to even hug anybody outside their own household, let alone get jiggy with it.  That dating meant having to look at your own face on a screen while talking to potential hookup partners via a computer screen.

Sex aside, for many people, sudden lockdowns meant having to give up passions like dancing, singing, playing sports, dating, or simply socializing, all in the middle of trying to deal with news of a killer virus flying around the planet.

Independent businesses floundered. Those lucky enough to keep their jobs found themselves working from home while homeschooling scared and stressed kids.

There were common negative effects in many countries around the world: weight gain, alcohol abuse, and insomnia soared.

But not everybody floundered, some people thrived, and found new ways to harness their passions

– whether it was by constructing a home gym and throwing everything into their workouts, or ditching the day job and starting a new business. When we look at the many lockdown success stories, we see a pattern of people who refused to give up on their passions when the world suddenly got super weird.

It doesn’t take a huge leap to imagine that those who plowed their creative energies into passion projects and new businesses would have been less likely to succumb to bad habits such as overeating and heavy drinking. Unless the new business was baking cakes or launching a backyard gin distillery: in which case any extra kilos and lunchtime gin-tonics would all have been for a good cause.

Sitting at home eating and drinking to excess was a misery for some, but would have seemed like a luxury for others. For many of those on the frontline, pursuing passions and finding a creative outlet was one way to cope with intense stress. This article from NPR illustrates (literally, there are cartoons) how many healthcare workers found stress relief in creative writing, painting, and even embroidery.

Now that most of us have emerged from the pandemic and returned to whatever passes for ‘normal’ these days, it’s important to keep the flames of passion burning. Not just in terms of physical passion (although, yes please, after enforced global sex bans for single people…) but in terms of finding excitement in the every day. Following our hearts and making time to do things that add a dash of joy to the everyday. It’s not an indulgence, it’s protecting your mental health.

Not convinced?

This excellent article from the New York Times points out:  “Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert, advocates finding time for yourself as a means to greater happiness over all. “Life just feels better when you have things in your hours that you want to do,” Ms. Vanderkam said. “There’s moments where time almost has no meaning because we’re so happy about what we’re doing. The more time you can spend in that zone, the better life feels.”

If you feel like you’ve lost your mojo, like your get up and go got up and went, or feel the threat of a slide into a real depression, it might just be that you need to invest more time in firing up your passions. Think about the things that take you to a happy place, and think about how you can get to that happy place more often. Make time for the little things that make you happy. The consequences of ignoring your own needs for living with passion and vitality can be pretty bleak.

Like most of us, I’ve struggled with some dark times, and I know I need to find my passions to pull myself back to the light. That’s why I want to encourage everybody to make passion a priority. If you’re not sure where to start – I’ve got your back! Check out my socials  or better still sign up to my Coffee Break Shake newsletter to make some little changes that can make a big difference >>

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