When it comes to passion, many of us are passionate about something or someone, our loves, studies, jobs …
While this is basically a good thing, in that it shows that we are alive and cling to our pursuit of happiness, it also has a darker side. Opposite passion comes stress, overwhelm and constraint. The word brings so many thoughts to mind and we may all interpret it in different ways. With that in mind let’s have a look at where the word comes from. It is the Greek verb ‘πάσχω’ that the modern word passion derives from. Passion is also a Late Latin noun meaning suffering.
The French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713-1784) described passions as, quote:
“penchants, inclinations, desires, and aversions carried to a certain degree of intensity, combined with an indistinct sensation of pleasure or pain“.
“They can be so strong as to inhibit all practice of personal freedom, a state in which the soul is in some sense rendered passive; whence the name passions. This inclination or so-called disposition of the soul is born of the opinion we hold that a great good or a great evil is contained in an object which in and of itself arouses passion.”
These days we tend to favour and even encourage the expression of enthusiasm and strong interest.
The meaning of passion
Although quite forgotten, previous generations had more nuanced viewpoints on this. They knew that our passions can take on an obsessive quality. Thereby having an ill effect upon us.
For example, when forced to continue with something . Or find ourselves preoccupied with a thing yet, never satisfied by it. Another not so pleasant aspect, is when we carry on with an activity just to maintain a relationship or fit in with the crowd. Worse still, we think our expectations and perception of ourselves must not change or shift. Because if they did, we would lose our identity and purpose.
At what cost?
We must be careful, when asked by our friends or even bosses, to be passionate or enthusiastic about a specific project. Indeed we must be aware also of our very own egos in this sense. If ever in this position we must ask whom does its outcome serve? And what will it cost us? And what else do we need these resources for in our daily lives? Because we will never want to be in opposition to a balanced work.