passion, fire, banned word, burn, hell

Ban passion

There are many, many words that have been ruined but which people remain mysteriously devoted to. ‘Iconic’ is a case in point. Bad, bad, bad: handbag, lipstick, song. Trouble is, it’s a hard one to substitute. ‘Celebrated’? Maybe, but it doesn’t have the same epic, religious ring to it. And so ‘iconic’ lives on.

‘Fabulous’. Oof. ‘Banter’ is enough to nuke a fledgling friendship or relationship if you have a sensitivity to language. ‘Fashionista’ has surely died a grisly death and – this end – we’re not too keen on ‘pamper’ either.

Welcome to ‘passion’. It’s a clenchy one. And yet we are told to be passionate, to follow our passion, to find a passion to pursue. Ben Stulberg on The Science Of Us reminds us that the CEO of a $60 billion dollar company who famously declared that “I value passion probably more than any other attribute” was Jeffrey Skilling. His company was Enron. And all that passion produced one of the most ‘iconic’ corporate frauds in history.

There are, according to psychology professor Robert Valerand, two types of passion. Obsessive and harmonious. The first is a fanatical craving for more: More accolades, more money, more followers, more fame and this puts you at risk of (apart from being a huge bore) highly unethical behaviour as well as depression and burnout. If it’s all goal-orientation then you could be in trouble: So don’t go to the party in order to post on social media, don’t marry the man to get the ring and don’t write the book to sell the book.

Harmonious passion is about joy. Now there’s an under-used word. Joy. Doing something because you enjoy doing it. Now there’s a thought…

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