08 Jan Happiness, Passion and Positive Psychology
Positive psychology is concerned with what makes like worth living, and since its beginning, positive psychologists have done a good job of moving under their umbrella more and more relevant concepts. Passion is one of the recent notions claimed by positive psychology, and my purpose in this blog entry is to talk about research into passion by psychologist Robert Vallerand at the University of Quebec (Montreal).
First a little background about “passion” that is relevant to contemporary research. The word apparently comes a Latin verb – patoir – meaning to suffer and endure, an intriguing origin considering that nowadays we often use the term to describe pursuits that we enjoy and – indeed – to describe active pursuits as opposed to the passive endurance of painful events.
The term was used to describe the suffering of Jesus (cf. Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ”) and Christian martyrdom. Following these uses, “passion” came to mean more generally very strong emotions, not only suffering but also what sustained the person who suffered. Even today, I suspect that one indicator of how passionate someone is about a pursuit or goal is the willingness to sacrifice in order to achieve it. In one of the memorable lines from The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch told his audience that the barriers in our lives are put there so that we can show how badly we want something.
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