The Dual Nature of Passion

Students choose to attend college for a variety of reasons. Whether they want to achieve profound knowledge within an academic field, establish athletic prowess, or experience personal growth and development, they’re often motivated by the desire to succeed. This thirst for success can come from external factors such as familial pressure and societal expectations or internal factors like perfectionism and extreme passion.

Although passion can help propel students to reach new heights throughout their collegiate years and beyond, the extent to which they engage with it can severely impact their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Understanding the different types of passions that commonly occur and how to channel them in a healthy and beneficial way is critical. Students should be armed with the necessary resources to help them put their passion to good use.

What Is Passion?

In simple terms, passion refers to one’s strong desire, longing, or inclination to perform an activity—this is something that sparks joy, requires determination, and preoccupies part of one’s daily life or routine. Examples include a student’s love for playing football, reading books, participating in theatrical performances, running track, or mastering a musical instrument. These various activities can become a significant part of one’s identity. It’s not uncommon for students and their passions to become the same.

Passion can be both advantageous and detrimental to a student’s ability to thrive, depending on the lengths one goes to achieve unwavering success or positive reinforcement for the activity at hand. But to understand how to aid students in creating a balanced life, it’s important to distinguish between the two types of passions: obsessive passion and harmonious passion.

A Comprehensive Look At Obsessive Passion

Passion is an excellent characteristic because it allows students to find meaning outside themselves, connect with their peers, and become well-rounded and worldly individuals. But when passions in life become all-encompassing and adversely impact other areas of one’s life, passion is seen as an obsession—often fueled by status, money, or glory. Although this behavior is most common in Olympic athletes, academic scholars, and other renowned individuals, it remains prevalent across college campuses.

College athletes may spend hours running drills, lifting weights, and replaying game tapes at the expense of getting adequate sleep and nutrition; meanwhile, students wanting to become the next Mozart may take up a temporary residence in the school’s music hall where they do nothing but repetitively practice the piano and hone their skills. Though many people see this as an unwavering commitment to one’s craft, this obsessive passion becomes all the student can focus on. Social activities, academics, and the desire to venture out and try new things often fall by the wayside.

Students who exhibit this behavior are more likely to experience burnout than their counterparts—they may even resent their passion altogether if pushed beyond their limitations. Consistent practice delivers improved results but takes a toll on students’ overall well-being. Studies have shown a negative correlation between this type of obsessive behavior and the willingness to practice one’s designated activity deliberately and intentionally. Students may be less receptive to constructive criticism or feedback due to an “all or nothing” mentality.

Encouraging students to expand their horizons and take up new hobbies, skills, and activities can help ease the effects associated with an obsessive passion. An extracurricular activities fair is an excellent way for students to identify other areas of interest that might light a fire within. Incorporating seminars in welcome orientations that focus on how to make the most of one’s college experience can shed light on the importance of being a well-rounded individual.

The Concept of Harmonious Passion

Of the different types of passions, harmonious passion primarily elicits positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. This concept focuses on performing an activity because it provides a sense of happiness that a student holds near and dear to their heart—they continue to partake in these activities due to enrichment rather than obligation. Students can have multiple passions in life, whether simultaneously or separately. The degree to which one excels at a harmonious passion isn’t the sole focus; one enjoys discovering new skills and abilities relating to their craft.

Those who display this passion may spend extended periods engulfed in a task; however, they can enjoy other aspects of life without experiencing feelings of guilt or disappointment. Students can still create strong social networks, maintain health and nutrition, and try their hand at new opportunities. These passions add value to one’s life instead of controlling it. As a result, students are typically happier, less tired, and open to feedback.

Courses or training modules focusing on personal growth and development or self-discovery and fulfillment can benefit college students. These encourage students to step outside of their comfort zones and discover additional passions that can leave them with valuable life skills. They teach students to practice compassion and understanding towards themselves.

However, it’s important to note that students can display both types of passions. The distinction lies within the degree to which one’s passion controls one’s life. Passions that begin harmoniously may become obsessive if students can’t compartmentalize activities and engage with life. The ability to keep an eye on this behavior is critical—a passionate person can easily lie with the “gray area.”

Helping Students Understand Passion in a Positive Way

Passion is often the driving force that leads students to participate in various activities. Whether playing sports, excelling in the classroom, or conquering a musical instrument, passion can help students thrive. Still, when taken too far, it can harm one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Understanding the difference between obsessive and harmonious passion can assist students in identifying unhealthy habits associated with their devotion to engaging in specific activities.

U-Thrive Educational Services’ solutions help students adopt life skills for thriving throughout college and beyond. Contact us today to learn how to bring our proactive mental and emotional wellness solutions to your campus.

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