Set Your Relationships On Fire
Live Passionately
By Jim Collister



Have you ever been in the presence of someone who is passionately enthusiastic about what they do, how they live and who they are? They radiate intensity, creativity and a sense that anything is possible. They draw whomever is around them into their energy-filled circle. They are interesting, attractive people who attract equally interesting, attractive people into their orbit. Fun, playful, purposeful, totally authentic — they appear to have found bliss in every relationship.

What is the secret of these relationship-savvy few? Are they born with good relationship genes? Are there certain traits or skills that anyone can learn in order to create passion and bliss in their life? How does passion influence relationships?

The answer begins by realizing that making relationships work is a lifelong challenge  —  a day-to-day opportunity that is always self created. To excel in relationships with others and create passion, you must first be willing to live life to the fullest. Living a full and complete life is juicy. Every day is a new possibility, filled with unexpected adventures — some good and others not so good. When you begin to observe each day as a possibility and not a repetition of the past, you begin to create an attractive energy within yourself.

Greeting life everyday as a new possibility empowers you to create and develop a self-sustaining passion for life. Passion in this sense doesn’t mean the frantic energy of sex, or constantly living on the edge of excitement and danger. It is passion as the wellspring of healthy living — the energy of willingly moving forward and falling into an unknown future. It means passion as a way of observation — looking at today and the future as open possibilities, and then being willing to move into the future with purpose and intention. This is creating PASSION as your own context of life.

“A man (woman) who is not on fire is nothing,” says Carl Jung. Living without passion is simply getting along — living a life that is lacking in meaning and purpose is merely surviving one day to the next. In our daily lives we confront many possibilities for ways of being and acting. Often we will say, “I want to be in love,” or “I want to travel,” or “I want to make a difference.” We assume that if we want a thing enough, someday it will be given to us as if by magic. The best we can do is hope and pray for the gumption, courage, energy or passion to get what we want. The unfortunate fact is life and passion don’t work this way.

The statement, “I want to . . . ,”  doesn’t generate a passion for living. “I want to . . .” is an _expression of irresponsible hope coming from resignation that results in mild depression and anger. What we really mean when we say “I want to . . .” is “I WANT to want to . . .” We mistakenly think that “wanting to want to” is passion. We begin to think passion is a thing or quality that others have and we lack. “I want to . . . ,” is a passive story of why something is not present while passion moves us to action. Passion is inspiration to aspiration and action.  

I suggest that passion is both a mood and a context for our life. We bring it to a specific moment in life; we don’t find it “there” when we arrive. When we were young, passion was not a question — every activity we entered into was entered with total abandon and without a thought for how we looked, what others thought, or reasons why we shouldn’t do it. Think of a couple of two-year old children playing at the water’s edge down at the beach. They run, play, shriek, chase seagulls, build sandcastles, hunt for shells and splash in the waves with totally innocent abandon.

As we get older, this sense of unrestrained play starts to get censored. Reason begins to cancel out passion. Soon we are worrying about what others will think of us, and why we can’t do what we really care about. We get stuck in the internal conversations that kill passion, such as, “Don’t let me look foolish,” or “This is silly,” or “I can’t, because someone or society said I shouldn’t”

Joseph Campbell counseled his students to “follow your bliss.” He relates how he met individually with his students once a month to see what they were reading, to provide them with feedback and to challenge them to live their own life, not the lives, hopes and dreams of their parents. One of his joys in teaching was when he saw the light of passion turn on as students discovered their bliss. From then on, he felt that his job was to nurture this passion by encouraging their conversations of “I can and will follow my bliss.”  This is a challenge we examine for ourselves.

True learning is passionate activity. Unfortunately when we are young, we are taught and we learn passively. We begin to follow the path of least resistance. This is true for our vocations and our relationships. We do not “learn and learn” as a lifetime competence. At some point, often in mid-life, we begin to discover the interest of our soul. This is the time when passion drives us to ‘learn to learn forever.” When we learn and accept that we can’t control or master everything, we are freed to choose what makes our juice flow and release the other possibilities to be followed by others.

While our soul interest may be medicine, teaching, spirituality, history, archaeology, mythology, cultures, science technology, government, business or entrepreneurship, it is our passion that ignites us to follow and serve it. We begin to see that our life has a purpose greater than our self. In this way we achieve bliss in life. Learning in the context and mood of passion opens all possibilities.

As adults and caregivers for our children and our world, we need to develop our competence to direct, encourage and allow our young to act on their passions. We must encourage them to seek out their interests. We must also encourage and support them in changing their interests. Contrary to our western thought it is O.K. to quit something that no longer supports us. If we can’t quit without guilt, we can’t start anew and we stifle passion.

Passion and wonder walk hand in hand. Wonder is being able to look at the unknown and say, “I don’t know what is going on here and I like it.” We can wonder at much life has to offer, but without the ability to locate and create our own passion, we will wander and wander into infinity, gradually becoming disenchanted with the course of our life. Then we begin to speculate, “What might have been?” It is true that unrestrained passion may lead to chaos, but restrained passion leads to conformity. Passion and the wisdom that comes from life experiences lead to bliss and living a meaningful and purposeful life.

When we live in context and mood of passion, life is not a “have-to” but a “get-to.” It is fully participating in the adventure with acceptance and wonder while being grateful that we “get-to” live life and have this experience. We have a choice every day — do we approach our duties and actions in a “have-to” or a “get-to” mood? Living with passion in a “get-to” mood comes when we accept responsibility as the creator of our own unique experience of life and choose to accept that life is truly filled with infinite possibility. This is when we are able to invent, design and create the life we want.

This is where those attractive, energetic people we admire so much get their zeal and intensity. A person living their own life with passion is sought out,  admired and empowers others with their enthusiasm and support. A marriage with two passion-filled people is effortless and filled with joy and bliss. All relationships gain energy when you are passionate, authentic and comfortable in your own skin.

Life is truly a passionate adventure. When we choose life and all it brings, passion is our fuel and blissful relationships our reward.

Jim Collister, the Relationship MasterTM, is the president and founder of the Excel in Living InstituteTM, a lifestyle education and coaching firm which offers public seminars focused on creating strong relationships, effective communication and personal growth. Jim has recently published his first book, “The Last Relationship Book You’ll Need.” He has a degree in Psychology from UCLA, has studied the philosophy of Language and Speech Act Theory and is a graduate of the prestigious Newfield Networks course on “Mastering the Art of Professional Coaching.” Jim lives in Southern California with his wife and soulmate, Linda. Details on books, speaking appearances and upcoming programs can be found at or e-mail .

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