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Passion vs Obsession

Some would say there’s a fine line between passion and obsession. First of all, what is the difference?

I found a great explanation that I will use here to frame the rest of this post.

Passion – when people admire you for it

Obsession – when you do it too much and people think you’re weird

However, how does one truly impact an industry, a culture, a generation without people thinking they’re weird? Especially when what you choose to be passionate about/be obsessed with is different from what everyone else is doing.

What happens when you’re literally the only person doing what you’re doing? Do you keep going because you have such a strong belief in what you’re doing? Do you keep going because you know you have the ability and the opportunity to impact a lot of people in a very positive way? Do you keep going because you love what you’re doing and the more you do it, the more you see the potential?

How long do you keep at something before you decide it isn’t worth it? How often and how much do you listen to the opinions of others? Do you reach out for help from your friends and family? Do they believe in your journey?

I truly believe that the difference between passion and obsession is a fine line. I believe that it is defined differently by different people.

Why am I asking this question? I admit that people think I’m weird for what I do. I’ve been made fun of but through it all, I do what I do because I deeply love throwing a frisbee. It’s like meditation for me. I don’t just throw because it’s fun. I throw because I’m good at it, and because I want to be better at it.

Do people think I’m weird because I’m passionate about frisbee and they don’t understand frisbee? Or do they think I’m weird because I am obsessed with frisbee? I would think the first because I don’t consider what I’m doing as an obsession. I think obsession means that it impacts you and those around you in a negative and harmful way.

Sure my involvement in frisbee has cost me thousands of dollars. Sure it’s taken up a lot of my time that I could have spent developing friendships and relationships. I’ve no doubt lost relationships because of the time I spend doing what I love. Ideally I want to involve as many people in my life as possible in disc sports. For me, it’s a lifetime of living an active lifestyle. There’s a reason we joke “when a ball dreams, it dreams it’s a frisbee”. There truly is no other toy than a frisbee.

So I ask you, what do you think the difference between passion and obsession is?

5 thoughts on “Passion vs Obsession”

  1. I cannot help but arrive at the question from a different angle. I see passion as a profound investment of emotion. I see obsession as a profound investment of activity, whether that comprises intellectual or physical effort. If I invest a great deal of emotion in a matter, it will manifest as passionate behaviour. Whereas, if I spend a great deal of time and thought on a matter (say, to the point of distraction) I exhibit obsessive behaviour.

    One can be quite passionate about something (for example, a topic such as human rights) without demonstrating obsessions. One can be obsessive about something (puzzle-solving, or a disciplined work ethic, perhaps) without necessarily demonstrating strong or passionate feelings about it. However, the room for overlap in this view is obvious, of course.

    Normally, when we speak of obsession in a pejorative or deprecating sense, I think it is precisely because we are explicitly or implicitly criticizing what we view as a wasteful or frivolous expenditure of time and effort. I believe that we are less prone to criticize passions for the mere sake of their being passions, but it is quite common in political circles – we often label such people as “close-minded” when we disagree we them. I suspect that just happens to be a semantic code-word for “passionate about matters of which I disapprove.”

    1.  @DavisT1000 Very well said…what you write makes sense and encourages others to take a step back and think about how they approach others. Someone I used to know was a big fan of a certain band – but she thought some other bands were crap. She couldn’t acknowledge that some people were as passionate as she was about other bands. She just thought they were wrong. Your comment helps puts her thinking into a clearer perspective so thank you for that.

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