When people have harmonious passion about something in their lives, this passion feels at harmony with the other parts of their lifestyles; when people have obsessive passion about something, this passion feels uncontrollable, conflicting, unstable, and negative.
Interestingly enough, even though obsessive passion may seem beneficial at times, it is actually harmful — and people with obsessive passion are much more likely to experience burnout. Harmonious passion works with the “flow” you want for your life, with you feeling fully present and immersed in the moment, which is a significant contributor to overall happiness and success. Sadly, obsessive passion cuts off “flow,” decreasing your overall happiness and success, no matter what that obsessive passion is about.
Clearly it is better to have harmonious passion and not obsessive passion — obsessive passion is very rarely a positive influence — so how can you tell the difference? We all have a little harmonious and obsessive passion in our lives, but what if obsessive passion is taking over your life? How do you stop it?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How’s your energy?
- Do you feel positive and enthusiastic about your passion?
- If your self is a percentage chart, how much of a percentage does your passion take?
- Is your self image positive or negative?
- Do you use words like “should” and “must,” or words like “want to” and “can’t wait to”?
- Do you feel satisfied outside of pursuing what you’re passionate about?
- Are you able to “flow” regularly, where you feel absorbed in your present task?
If your answers are mostly “no,” then you may have an obsessive passion.
To realign any obsessive passion you may have with a harmonious passion, take a few action steps. Making room for more than a single goal, habit, career, or lifestyle is healthy for everyone involved — you and your loved ones.
Proactively Take Breaks
Make yourself stop engaging in what you’re passionate about. If you’re addicted to fitness, make yourself take one to two rest days each week, and fill that time with a different kind of activity. Have a movie night with your friends, take an art class, or visit a tourist attraction in your hometown.
Set Clear Boundaries
If you never set boundaries, obsessive passion overtakes your life to the point of upsetting you. If your obsessive passion over your diet causes you to binge eat sweets on a regular basis, remove the temptation by setting aside one night each week where you can eat a single dessert, whether it’s a cupcake or an ice cream cone. Having a balanced relationship with food is more important than a number on a scale!
Change Your Mind
To achieve harmonious passions, “fake it ‘til you make it.” Instead of thinking “should” and “must,” tell yourself you “want” to walk a 5k. It may feel hypocritical at first, but over time, your new mindset will feel natural.
Learn Something New
Allow yourself to take a break from what you’re obsessively passionate about to pursue something else. Dust off your violin skills, build a birdhouse, or call your friends more often. Having space for other outlets and interests will give you more peace of mind and also give you a refreshed perspective on creating harmonious passion for your initial goal.
There are many examples of people who have shown extraordinary talent and could have given in to obsessive passion, but they didn’t, and they were better for it. Many professional athletes have an outlet that they use to balance out their practice time. Albert Einstein was known to play the violin when he needed a break from solving equations, and he would return, mentally refreshed. Yo-Yo Ma decided to postpone his career to learn more about the world around him, and even though he received a D+ in music history at Harvard, he is one of the best cellists in history for more than his talent but also for his character.
All areas of life can act as sounding boards and refueling stations for our greatest interests, and this includes a healthy lifestyle. Let’s replace our obsessive passions, whether they’re nutrition, fitness, goals, careers, or anything in between, to develop harmonious passions that improve ourselves and our places in the world.
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