Mind Pillar

by Dr. Jay Kumar

Mind Pillar

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.”

— Martha Graham

The Science Behind Connection (Part Three)

By Conscious Contributor Dr. Jay Kumar

Humans need connection—whether to people, purpose, passion, or potential. Although I’ve studied the brain science behind happiness for years, it really comes as no surprise how folks who report being the happiest are those who are connected to a deep passion for life. Research reveals why finding joy in the beauty of the world through art or nature, in work or play becomes a powerful factor for achieving health and wellbeing. Having already learned about connection to people and purpose, let’s explore further the “Science Behind Connection” in this series’ third piece that reveals your “Connection to Passion.” Read last month’s article.


What is passion? I think the French General, Ferdinand Foch, defines it best when stating: “The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire.” Passion is the vital fuel that propels you on the journey to happiness. Think of passion as the innate burning desire to express your gifts and shed your light onto the world. What the accomplished artist, doctor, teacher, chef, or scientist share in common is her or his connection to passion that becomes the source of both their success and happiness.

While our quest for happiness is universal, attaining it is no guarantee. Many obstacles pop up on our path in its pursuit. In the Happiness course I teach at Chapman University, I share with my students how there exists a growing crisis—what I call our “Epidemic of Emptiness”—that’s plaguing humanity. You might even see this Epidemic of Emptiness expressed as a general feeling of discontent, despair, and disconnection that threatens to undermine the foundation of our society. Sadly, we witness the effects from this Epidemic of Emptiness as the precipitous rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide over the past decade.

Equally perilous, apathy and boredom are on the rise. It’s deeply saddening to know of people simply not caring about anything bringing them passion or joy in life. The youth is most at risk. They yearn to find meaning and engagement in a 24/7 world of technology and digital media. The Epidemic of Emptiness ensues when we focus more time and energy garnering likes on Instagram than generating inspiration for what we love. One strategy to curtail the Epidemic of Emptiness is connecting to your passion

Passion and inspiration are intimately related, as both are required for achieving happiness. The word inspiration derives from the Latin “breath spirit in.” In this sense, inspiration is the creative fire of passion we inhale that nurtures and sustains our happiness in life. Learning to stoke your fire of passion on the inside is the key to discovering your happiness in the world outside.

Of course, passion isn’t just romantic or sensual. It can be experienced in a variety of ways. Art, spirituality, service work, career, play, nature, family can all be vehicles for expressing your passion. For me, I have a deep passion for helping others understand the brain science behind happiness. That passion is expressed in nearly everything I do—as a professor, speaker, writer, healer, and more.

As a child, do you recall how passion was present in nearly everything you did? Growing up, we had an insatiable passion for playing, learning, discovering, exploring, singing, and much more. The older we become, that inherent sense of passion often becomes obscured or stifled by societal norms. The result—we forget about what truly brings us joy and fulfillment. We confuse passion with pleasure. We seek the sensation of passion externally, rather than tapping into it internally.

In my speaking engagements and seminars, I often get asked the question: “What’s one thing I can do today to bring me happiness?” My answer is simple: “What’s one thing your 7-yr old self loved to do? Maybe it was running in an open field, picking flowers, singing in the shower, drawing for fun, or dancing with friends. Whatever it is, I want you to do it! Why? It will help you reconnect to your passion for life now, just as it did when you were a kid.”

This is an exercise I invite you to try at some point in the next week. Remember a time when you were a child and recall an activity you did back then that brought you joy. Maybe it was something that you stopped doing as you got older. What’s stopping you from doing it today?

More brain science studies affirm how connecting to your passion is one sure bet to experience happiness on a regular basis.

To follow in the footsteps of Martha Graham’s philosophy on life: “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” The simplest way to connect to your passion is to do what you love! Passion is the universal beat to the magical dance of life. Please enjoy this short video we know will help you start Connecting to Passion.

Next month’s article in the series will reveal how to experience your “Connection to Potential.” Until then, enjoy the abundance from connecting to your passion in life.

In Health & Happiness,

Dr. Jay

Dr. Jay Kumar is a professor of Happiness Studies, renowned public speaker, and thought leader. His expertise spans brain science and behavioral health; economics, politics, and culture; religion and science. He also holds a Master’s degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in international political economy. Dr. Jay recently founded the Applied Brain Science Research Institute (ABSRI) — an international organization that explores the dynamic intersection of science, spirituality, and society in order to advance solutions for issues facing our contemporary and complex world. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Currency of Happiness and the creator of the revolutionary “Pro-Social Behavioral Resilience” technique — a proven model successfully employed by professionals and individuals within a variety of fields.

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