Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Passion Or Obsession

While this may sound like a fight to the death between two women's fragrances, it has a much more serious theme.

Ask yourself a question, am I obsessed or am I passionate about what I do?? The end result of passion is that you remain passionate about everything and easily, very easily, always view the glass as half full. The end result of obsession is this constant hunger, analysis, and emptiness. Passionate people burst out of bed WANTING to do those things in life that fulfill them. Obsessed people HAVE to get out of bed. Something is eating at them and they start to analyze it. Passionate people run towards pleasure, obsessed people run away from pain. Lots of pain, both mental and physical. Passionate people are carried by interests, obsessed people are driven by need.

Let's view some examples of types of people we all know. One the most hackneyed examples is the single mom or working mom. We can also use the term single dad or working dad so that we remain politically correct. Either they take every opportunity to collect pity for their place in life (as if they were the only human born without choice), or they consider themselves the luckiest person alive for the great fortune of enjoying their work, having a family, and being healthy and alive. I have personally seen both types of people and the only thing different was their governing drive, passion or obsession. Another example is the retired athlete. Despite injuries or inconvenience they remain active, enjoy vitality, and good health. They deal with the aches and pains as byproduct of an active lifestyle and largely ignore the trivial inconvenience. The preceding as you are beginning to gather is the "passionate person". The obsessed former athlete goes over and over his past victories, injuries, shoulda's, coulda's, and woulda's. He or she is a shell of their former self and lets everyone know it. They may have difficultin in moving around, standing up, or sitting on airplanes and NO one except for Dr. John Sarno can tell if the physical pain is real or part of their mechanism to deal with narcissistic rage. They will also constantly try to regain some sort of fame rather than enjoy their life. Living a few miles from Dan Marino gives me a view of one of the most incredible quarterbacks who ever lived. Retired, he works out, golfs daily, and does incredible work for Autistic Children. Dan has passion. I don't need to mention any former jocks who are obsessed,... you will find one on every block or bar reliving their glory with some hangers on. They exist in some sort of shadow world where the past has to be relived as if it is the duty of everyone they meet to hear the whole story whether they want to or not.

Enter food and eating. Are you passionate about food or obsessed with it? Passion requires nourishment. That means good food, good smell, good taste, good atmosphere, good friends, and therefore good life. It is an end within itself, a circle with no circumference. Obsession with food has nothing to do with nourishment, either physically, spiritually, or psychologically. It has to do with medication. There is no end, just intermittent satiation. Having a Grilled Chicken Caesar with a glass of red wine with old friends for a lunch is passion. Squatting on the kitchen floor at 3AM eating a bucket of macaroni with an ice cream scoop is obsession. Figure it out. If drinking alone is sad,..what is late night eating?? Both are forms of medication where the patient gets to set the dose. Remember the old story about a lawyer representing himself having a fool for a client?

Passion in training dictates that the workout gets you ready for life and that the competition that you are entering is just a way of keeping score with yourself. Obsession with training means WIN at all costs. Winning isn't everything, it is the only thing. It is more important than ethics, health, relationships, spirituality, or legality. Pain is fear leaving the body,...playing injured is part of the game, and so on. It means your identity is founded in what you do (train), not who you are.

The big difference is that those who obsess are trying to achieve happiness. Those who have passion happily achieve.


Tracy said...

Tom, It's no secret that I'm obsessed with food. Or maybe I'm obsessed with trying to make myself feel better (or different, for whatever psychological reason) with food. But that doesn't mean I can't be passionate about food also.

I spend everyday, yes every single day, preparing unbelievably fresh and nutritious food. I methodically organize by shopping, washing, cutting, chopping, cooking portioning freezing, etc..
It's meditative for me.

Taking a cup of soup that I've made, with my own homemade chicken stock, to friends at work to share my passion with them, is far more satisfying that purcahsing a mundane "chicken ceasar" at some crappy eatery. That's hardly "good food, good smell, good taste, or good atmosphere".

But does that mean that I don't tear into a bag of cookies, shoving one in after the other? Or taking a whole pint of ice cream and finishing it off? You're right, that's not about nourishment. (for the body)

For me, personally, my passion and obsession intermingle.

As usual, your lack of compassion leaves you seeing only black or white, but I know it's just you opinion.

Tom Furman said...

My article was based on personal experiences with family and clients over the last thirty years. My wife's family has morbid obesity problems that extend from adult to child to grandchild. It is a multigenerational issue and not being addressed by the people affected. I wish the influence of my wife on her oldest sister would have been more profound, but we lost her relative to vascular issues. Cindy and I did alot of soul searching after that and decided that our ability to communicate healthy information needed to be improved or modified. Therefore we are planning more projects around healthful living and sharing what has worked for us as a family. The one paragraph devoted to eating was a response to the health issues facing my family. The article as a whole is just my opinion based on my observations of relatives dealing with weight related illnesses since my childhood.
Your story of success is highly inspirational and no doubt motivates many who wish to follow your path. I wish you continued success with your journey of happy achievements.