“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures”
American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer
In the spirit of the February where Passion and Love are celebrated at every turn, a very short story about passion.
A young man found a frog who said to him “Kiss me and I will become a beautiful princess.”
The young man studied the frog carefully, then put the frog in his pocket.
“Hey,” the frog croaked, “how come you didn’t kiss me?”
The young man smiled, “I’d rather have a talking frog than a princess any day!”
There you have it. Passion: where creativity, action and ambition meet.
Why not use the month of Passion to evaluate your passion for your life? Will you settle for a princess (yawn) or see the potential of talking frog?
Grab a pen and paper (or even better, open your journal or start a journal) and get ready to brainstorm about yourself.
Are you passionate about your life and your dreams and goals?
Are you passionate in a healthy way?
First, a quick lesson in psychology. In the world of psychology, Harmonious Passion (HP) refers to an autonomous internalization that leads individuals to choose to engage in the activity that they like. HP promotes healthy adaptation. Obsessive Passion thwarts adaptation by causing negative affect and rigid persistence.*
In short, HP is healthy passion.
Harmonious passion is adaptable, allowing for balance in life pursuits. Activities are pursued because of desire. Activity isn’t to please others or outperform someone else or to avoid being surpassed. Individuality, independence and flexible perseverance are the hallmarks of the passion.
A few questions for you:
- Can you jot down everything you think you are passionate about or wish you had time to be passionate about?
- How much time and energy do you place towards your passionate interests?
- Next to each item you identified as a passion, write the origin of your passion.
- Where would you like to take your passion?
- Where has your passion taken you?
- What aspect of your personality does your passion speak to? The dreamer, the practical, the physical, the intellect?
- Do you list a professional passion?
Next, be very honest with yourself and evaluate your passions. Are they Harmonious (see above) or Obsessive? Healthy and a reflection of YOU or not so healthy because your passion is actually someone else’s?
Don’t confuse passion with obligation, long-standing commitments, or someone else’s expectations or hopes.
Obsessive Passion is connected to extrinsic motivations — wanting to please others or to maintain a certain status that is important to self-esteem.*
Now go back to your list. Strike out any passion that belongs to someone else.
Think of that Rotten Tomatoes award winning movie Christmas with the Kranks when Luther Krank rebels against the neighborhood expectation of PASSIONATE Christmas decorating. Run like your pants are on fire from a passion that does not belong to you.
- Resign from the soulless committee that doesn’t speak to your heart.
- Put away the tennis racket if it’s a drudge. Don’t stay in tennis league because it’s been eight years and you like all your teammates.
- Skip next month’s book club selection that doesn’t make your eyes light up.
- Arrange a family vacation you’ve been putting off for years instead of shouldering the work of a reunion.
- Evaluate if the next step in the corporate ladder is your true passion.
So. The first step to finding and living with Passion is remove the things that aren’t really your passions from your life. (Think of those “things” as obstacles if it helps you embrace the change!) If you don’t journal, consider beginning a journal with the notes you made after reading this.
* Vallerand, R. J..; Blanchard, C.; Mageau, G. A.; Koestner, R.; Ratelle, C.; Léonard, M.; Gagné, M.; Marsolais, J. (2003). Les passions de l'âme: On obsessive and harmonious passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 85(4), 756-767. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1996
By Robin Boggs Choquette, Psy.D.
Elite Performance Counseling, Inc.
Elite Performance Counseling provides psychological services to individuals from preteen through older adulthood in individual psychotherapy, family therapy (including parenting strategies), couple’s therapy, and skill seminars. In addition, Dr. Choquette consults with a specialized emphasis on performance enhancement for athletes, performing artists, musicians, and executives.