A few years ago, the life that I knew and loved came crashing down around me. It felt like one endless sob story after another, except that my range of emotions spanned far beyond mere sadness. My marriage fell apart. The financial security that my children and I had enjoyed for years was blown to smithereens. I was suddenly thrown into the challenge of raising two teenagers alone; a single mom facing plenty of issues of my own. I struggled to provide for them, and myself, with the love and support we all desperately needed. My soul and emotions, dealt a huge blow, were a rocky foundation.

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I was thrust into this new, unfamiliar version of normal.

When the going gets this tough, you’ve got to find something to keep you going. Some people turn to food, alcohol, sex, or exercise. Others enlist a good therapist to help them get their feet back on the ground. The fashion-minded of us turn to another kind of therapy: retail therapy. That was my former emotional weapon of choice. But in my state of financial and emotional ruin, I could hardly turn to my retail quick fix for sustainable joy.

With the pieces of my former life scattered around me, I needed a lifesaver, and I needed it fast. My old habits and way of life were destroyed in the blast. I couldn’t rely solely on my family and friends, though they are incredibly supportive and were there for me through the thick and thin of my catastrophe. I knew deep down that my personal dire straits required a personal transformation. I dug deep. I knew I needed to thrive, to find beauty in the destruction and use its negativity to help me prevail.

I searched my soul for all the strength I could muster, and it came to me in the form of passion: Passion for being a strong mother and an optimistic individual, for not letting this catastrophe keep me from happiness and faith.

With only passion to push me forward, I became a passionista.

Don’t mistake “passionista” for a cutesy play on words. It’s so much more than that. Being a passionista means embracing an entirely new way of living that, over time, causes miraculous, visible changes in your life. A passionista thrives, and it’s all because of the inner energy that keeps us seeking out happiness and joy. When I became a passionista, I made a conscious effort to live fully.

I used my passion to help me translate my desire to thrive into a life where I look for happiness everywhere. It was difficult at first, with my strength tested each time a disappointment or setback disrupted my happiness progress. But with each setback, I began to notice how my passion pushed me forward and kept me from looking back to the destruction in my rearview. Now, I’m to a place where I walk, talk, and breathe passion. Hooked on the happiness high, I’m a self-proclaimed passion junkie, a passion groupie, a passionista, until the end.

No two people cope alike, and there’s no cookie cutter way to pull ourselves out of tough times. But in my journey to becoming a passionista, I’ve discovered the amazing, universal power of passion to push us each forward even when everything we’re facing is trying to knock us down. I urge you to join me in becoming a passionista. You’ve got it in you to thrive.

Fellow happiness seeker, in what ways are you a passionista? I’d love to hear about a time when you used your energy to survive tragedy and thrive.

Lisa Cypers Kamen is acclaimed for her engaging blend of positive and spiritual psychology coaching, workshops, and philanthropic projects. Through her books, radio show, media appearances, and inspiring documentary films, such as H Factor: Where Is Your Heart?, Lisa recently launched Harvesting Happiness for Heroes, a non-profit corporation dedicated to bringing integrated psychology coaching tools and mindfulness training to Veterans and their loved ones. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, ABC and CBS television, Yahoo News, and Money Watch. You can visit Lisa on her website, Facebook or Twitter.

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