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  • Writer's pictureTalia

Healthy Passion vs. Unhealthy Passion In This Crazy Age of Social Media


This is me being silly, wondering how I discovered such a beautiful bathroom, not obsessively passionate about using my camera {cough cough yes you are cough cough who are you kidding cough cough} and deciding that writing about harmonious versus obsessive passion is a good idea. That is a lot to think about in just one camera click, but it happened and this blog post was the result. Let’s go…

The research of positive psychologist and passion expert Robert Vallerand is fascinating, and I can see why he became passionate about passion! More importantly, his research is wise and conducive to our happiest and most satisfying lives. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to do things that you think will make you happy but will end up hurting you in the long run. Most of the time, we don’t even understand that we are doing it! The funny thing about us is that we don’t always comprehend what is truly going to make us feel good. Robert Vallerand understood this and he set the record straight on two very different types of passion.

Robert Vallerand has a great lesson for all of us to take to heart and apply every single day of our lives.

Get ready for this because it may alter how you see others’ actions on social media and it may alter even your own habits and routines. Vallerand discovered that there are two types of passions: harmonious and obsessive. The first is a healthy type of passion and the second is a hot mess of unhealthiness and unhappiness which we do because we think it’s good for us but is actually detrimental and the life equivalent of eating junk food.

Both types of passion can occur together, and both of them can contribute to how we define ourselves. Harmonious passion comes from our hearts and has no psychological strings attached other than our enjoyment. Obsessive passion, on the other hand, occurs when we become dependent on our hobby or activity or do it for the wrong reasons, such as the approval of others, for attention, accolades or in the age of social media, “likes”. It represents an uncontrollable urge to engage in the activity. According to this article, “Obsessively passionate individuals routinely fall back on the activity for self-protective purposes… obsessive passion is expected to be associated with less adaptive outcomes, such as pathological gambling, excessive online gaming, and online shopping dependency.”

For example, say you are an avid ice-skater and you twist your ankle on the ice. A harmoniously passionate person would take time off from skating to rest and heal, but someone who is obsessively passionate might keep skating and probably make the injury worse.

Obsessive passion can decrease your performance, increase stress, and reduce your overall health and happiness. It can even make you feel shame during or after the activity and interfere with your relationships. Obsessive passion can make us behave in ways that hurt other people while also hurting ourselves, they can be the propelling forces behind superficial friendships if you are “friends” with someone just to potentially increase your skill level and/or “likes”.

Social media is new in the big picture of life, but it’s making people do crazy things that make it “look” like they are passionate about what they post on social media, but is actually detrimental to the person posting it. Often posts are posted for the wrong reasons and to garner attention, rather than for the right reasons, which are to share help, knowledge, beauty, art and/or fun just because you love it and want to share your joy, creativity or knowledge. The important thing to recognize is why you are doing something. Are you doing it because you genuinely love it? Or for another reason?

Don’t get me wrong; it’s important to find things we love so much that we are willing to make sacrifices to achieve them or be the best that we can be. Just look at olympic hopefuls, expert musicians or that expert clown that traumatized you when you were a child! Wait, the expert clown was the one that traumatized me. Anyway, making sacrifices to pursue your dreams can be 100 percent healthy as long as you’re making them voluntarily and they don’t prevent you from enjoying the rest of your life.

If you start to feel like you’re making too many sacrifices, or that you’re too competitive or obsessed with one thing, take a step back and reevaluate. Your happiness and self-esteem are more important than other people’s opinions and/or approval from a group. Don’t forget about the other things in life that get you fired up, even if they’re seemingly small, like tuning in to a favorite show each week. Am I the only one who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones?! Don’t hurt me for this! It’s not because I am obsessively passionate about something, I promise!

We should allow ourselves the time and space to explore all the things that make us happy. When we are harmoniously passionate, we are happier and healthier, and will achieve success and greater fulfillment in our chosen activities!

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