Passion or Obsession?

Passion.  Do you have it?

How passionate are you about the activities you engage in whether at work or your personal life?

Are you bored and frustrated, or so passionate that you verge on obsession?


Passion is defined as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

Obsession is defined as the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.

Can you see how one might lead to the other?

I recently read an article Go Ahead, Obsess! in the June issue of Psychology Today.  The first line under the article title reads:

Forget life balance: Throwing yourself 110 percent into a complex project could be the key to creative breakthroughs—and to a meaningful life.

The authors claim that healthy obsessions, those where you are focused on “doing good” in the world:

Allow you to clear away distractions and focus on the project or task at hand.
Rid you of boredom
Allow you to live with exhaustion because you believe so much in what you’re working on.

The authors also believe that “dabbling” creates “sad people”.

One woman profiled in the article had such a passion for and obsession with a comment her high school biology teacher made, she dug deeper into the topic during grad school.  The result?  She wrote a book that hit #2 on the New York Times best seller list.

On a personal note, I’m passionate about helping adults and teens feel good about themselves.  I’m passionate about running, yoga, cooking, healthy living, travel. I tapped in to my passion in part by taking time to quiet all the naysayers, explore options and opportunities, and tune in to my strengths. Sometimes the ideas I generate, are as the authors state, exhausting.  At the same time the thought of making a difference in someone’s life invigorates me.

What about you? Do you have the kind of passion for something that it borders on obsession?  Does it keep you up at night, get you up early in the morning and it’s all you can think or talk about?


Is spreading healthy living and bringing people together.  That’s why I’m starting a quarterly walking/hiking group, beginning this Sunday.  It’s free to attend, with a suggested donation of $5 to 10 to benefit the American Heart Association (optional).  We’ll take a moderate hike to the top, practice a little yoga and head back. No experience in hiking or yoga needed!  Do something good for you while doing something good for others. That’s feel good living.  Click here to learn more about the hike.

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  • Leanna

    I’ve recently had my love of yoga rekindled by a new studio and teachers that I really resonate with. In the last 6 or 7 weeks my practice has become much more regular, my strength and flexibility have expanded beyond where I’ve ever known them to go and I’m finding myself seeking more about yoga outside the studio. I’m reading books on yoga (Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar and Erik Schiffman’s Moving Into Stillness), keeping a little notebook of my practices, and studying the Sanskrit roots and pose names. It’s like I’m trying to see it from all sides, not just one. Which I think does make things more enjoyable.

    I think it’s on the healthy side of passion. And it does get me up in the morning!

  • Evita

    Hi Stacey

    I can definitely see how one can lead to the other. I think passion is great to a full force degree, as long as it does not consume us in a way that is actually destructive to our health and well being.

    While passion can help us get great things done, if we don’t keep our Ego in check during any of our passionate endeavours we can become so attached to the outcome that our actions become more self-serving then other-helping, and as well we identify our sense of self by our results, which creates boxed-in definitions and limitations of who we really are. This is where I think it borders on that fine line of obsession being healthy vs unhealthy.

    I definitely have my passions, and sometimes, gosh do I ever get worked up about helping to mend the world, but I also have to remember humility that the world is not broken, it is all a matter of personal perception and focus.

  • Stacey Shipman

    Leanna – I need to find a studio, and want to try the one you’re talking about. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying yoga so much!

    Evita – I definitely understand what you’re saying. It’s important to keep the “greater good” in mind.

  • Hilary

    Hi Stacey .. passion for something is the key – you’re constantly looking forward to expanding and improving on your passion – & because you’re happy .. you have time for the now.

    The wrong obsession can be debilitating and stressful – so the good sort where we do put in 110% is good ..

    I’m working towards that passionate stage again – lots going on & I’m still behind and tired after my Mum and my uncle .. so all things as they come. I feel better than I’ve done in 3 years since this all started .. which allows me to feel more settled and look to the future.

    Thanks – and you certainly seem to fulfil your life with your passions .. enjoy the weekend – Hilary

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