2007/03/31

Passion and Balance

One key to a successful and enjoyable life is working towards an optimal mixture of passion and balance.

The people who are most fun to be with are those who live their lives with evident and infectious passion for a worthwhile and positive vocation or avocation, yet manage to do that without annoying those around them. When you're with these people, you often want to learn more about their cause or even get involved with their activities simply because they are so enjoyable to be around.

Unbridled passion, however, can be irritating to others or even harmful to the passionate person if it consumes their lives to the exclusion of any other activities. Balance is needed to give perspective to a highly passionate person and to prevent them from bugging the heck out of others.

Knowing what dollop of balance to stir in with a large dose of passion is an art calling for frequent adjustments and self-reflection. Being aware of your impact on others and both soliciting and consciously listening to feedback is Necessary. Most of us look into a magic mirror every day that is seldom a helpful reflection of our lives or our interaction with others. As a friend of mine likes to say, "I shave the face of an 18 year old every morning!" This friend has seen more than fifty years pass by, so his shaving mirror seems to have thaumaturgic properties.

Benjamin Franklin admired and worked on thirteen virtues, one of which was moderation. One website quotes him as saying, "Moderation in all things, including moderation." He was, however, also highly passionate about many subjects and led a unique and varied life. Most of us will not lead lives with near as many interests or recognized accomplishments as Ben, but we can certainly learn from his example.

When we spend time on self-reflection, thinking about our past and future possibilities, we should make sure we have positive areas of passion that give our lives meaning and satisfaction. At the same time it is vital to make sure we have balance in our lives, 'spending' our time on more than just one activity with more than just one circle of people.

A random thought-piece for you to consider reading before thinking more about passion and balance is the essay "How to be more productive" by Aaron Swartz.

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