An extended definition about what is passion. In the drafting process.
Passionate Obsession or Obsessional Passion?
He is running towards the closed door ahead, hands outstretched, determinated in reach his goal. All he has ever wanted lies behind that door: his true passion. His fingers graze the handle, and he finds himself lying in bed, breathing hard after his dream’s excursion. His entire body feels alive. Passion is that dream-like state in which nothing can pull a person astray from his/her goal. When his eyes see the world, the only thing in focus is his object of affection. Being passionate is having every fiber of one’s being focused on that one meaningful, particular moment.
Passion walks the very fine line between dedication and obsession. Many people find difficulty in deciphering the difference between extreme devotion and compulsion. Passion, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything” (www.dictionary.com). Many people are passionate about their work. For instance, a man who needs to make a presentation to a large company might work overtime for a few weeks to prepare. An artist in a fit of inspiration might seek seclusion in his/her studio for hours a day until the masterpiece is finished.
The line between passion and obsession becomes fuzzy when determining how much effort is too much. Obsession is defined as “the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc” (www.dictionary.com). Like a bad habit, this strong devotion can consume a person’s corporeal entity; all he/she ever does or thinks will revolve around that one cause. It can become an addiction that has no cure. According to DJ de Florida, passion is being devoted to a cause or activity, but obsession occurs when you let a dedication get out of control (Florida).
The thin line between passion and obsession is the line of amount and time spent on an interest. In Florida’s essay, he says that a person should think about how much time he/she dedicates to a pleasurable activity. His article is geared towards how women react to men that are dedicated to a cause but not obsessed with it. Having a mission in life is important, but when a man spends twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week attempting to reach his goal, there will not be any time left to balance life with his significant other or family (Florida).
This theory of obsession wrecking relationships, whereas passion is seen as building them is reiterated in John Hagel’s blog about the differences between the two. Being dedicated to an idea on one’s own volition is the concept of passion. If one were to talk to an entrepreneur who has developed a business he/she loves, the devotion he/she has to the business will shine through in his/her sentences, facial expressions, and demeanor. If a person is passionate about a cause, he/she will more than likely openly discuss his/her dedication to anyone willing to listen and appreciative of his/her viewpoints and work. The line between enough devotion and too much is crossed when a person no longer has control of how much time is spent on the object of enthusiasm or cannot stop working towards the end goal. Obsession is birthed from simple dedication when a person becomes secretive and secluded in his/her work towards greatness (Hagel, John). This is the point where a passion turns into a neurotic tendency, which in turn, powers a wrecking ball into relationships and other important life goals.
In the analysis of deciphering the difference between dedication and neurosis, there is the idea of a responsible, positive passion versus a destructive, negative passion, in fewer words, obsession. Passion, regardless of positive or negative, will always push a person to work harder. In the process, a person will most likely feel “excited and exhilarated” (Detchevery, Brad.) If a devoted person has a responsible grasp on his/her work, he/she will prioritize healthily, meaning he/she will put the essentials first, such as family, friends, and work. The responsible part of the term kicks in when a person knows when to call it quits. When a person loses sight of this responsibility is when obsession is formed. A person will have an unhealthy attraction to completing the task, and nothing will hinder his/her goal. As Paul Carvel stated it, although in different wording, “Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.”
In the shadow of responsible versus unhealthy passion is the idea of positive dedication being helpful, whereas negative dedication is a hindrance. When passion is harnessed, it becomes a tool with which to build one’s future. Dedication and hard work can make successful actors and musicians, but can also birth burnouts and drifters when taken too far. Attempting to reach personal goals is what one looks forward to after a hard day at work; an outlet that provides the guilty pleasure feeling without the infamous, shameful hangover that normally follows. Passion is an ultimate high that has no crash; it fuels a person with determination just as gasoline fuels a fire.
As the German poet Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” It should be noted that this quote does not say that nothing can be accomplished without passion; it states that nothing great will come if passion does not play a part in its making. For example, a man could go to work at the same company for twenty years and perform the minimal amount of work necessary to scrape by without getting fired. Most likely, this man will never climb even one rung of the corporate ladder. His goal begins at earning money to sustain his lifestyle and ends there. On the other hand, if the man is dedicated to his job, has a passion for his work, he will put in the extra effort to complete tasks.
Instead of watching the clock every five or ten minutes, he will wish he had more time to complete his tasks, perhaps even ask to stay overtime occasionally to finish. If one adds passion to the work side of the equation, the sum will not only equal money. His passion will feed his drive to be not just an employee, but a superb one. His superiors will acknowledge his drive, and he will gain confidence, self-satisfaction, and possibly a monetary gain. Passion is not necessary to complete the equation, but if added, it will yield a more appealing outcome than just that of monetary compensation. One must be careful not to slip into a compulsive habit of overworking, though. Becoming too involved in completing job tasks will force the positive dedication into the negative because of neglect of priorities such as family.
In the relationship sense, passion and obsession are not directly related. They are linked through steps that transform one into the other. For true, responsible dedication to become an ugly consumption of a person’s thoughts, a person must lose his/her self-control of input time on a cause and lose the ability to rank priorities, along with an inability to stop pursuing the goal. Passion pulls a person to the edge of achievement whereas obsession pushes him/her there (Hagel, John). A rightly dedicated pursuit will keep a responsible person suspended on the edge of the precipice, where devotion is pushed to the maximum range possible without sacrificing necessary priorities in life. Obsession will shove a person unwillingly to the edge and drop him/her sheer off the face of the cliff without warning when a person burns out.
When one becomes frustrated from failures, passion leads him to persevere through hardships and continue his endeavors. He may find himself straying from his path, thinking he is beaten and spurned, but passion resurrects his true calling. Like a fire that never ceases to burn, passion sits in one’s soul with steadfast resolve, never wavering during the strongest gale or storm.
Carvel, Paul. “Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.”
Florida, DJ de. "Obsession versus Passion." So Suave. Allen Thompson & Global Marketing, 2009. Web. 11 Mar 2010.
Hagel, John. “Passion Versus Obsession”. Edge Perspectives. March 2nd, 2010.
<> March 5th, 2010.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
"Obsession." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 16 Mar. 2010.
"On Passion." Ourmedia. Web. 16 Mar 2010.
"Passion." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 16 Mar. 2010.