Should you be passionate? Does passion bring suffering?

Raphael Reiter
July 16, 2023

The literal meaning of passion, is suffering. Think of the apostles passions ( St Matthew St. John passions) or the passion of the Christ.

There is nothing positive or jolly about passion. The only virtue of passion is compassion, which translates to: “suffering with”. When we are compassionate to a cause, we suffer with that cause. One would ask if this is a positive thing, if it initiates action, or if it is just a typical human engagement of one’s ego to be involved in a reality that it doesn’t belong too.

Rather, one can be empathetic, or even better, encouraging. To encourage, literally means, to give heart ( courage —> cœur ♥️).

There is hype around the word passion in today’s society.

Employers want you to be passionate about your company. Conglomerates and consumerism wants you to be passionate about their products. If you are not passionate, you are lazy or inadequate.

If I were a cynic, which I regret to say I may be sometimes, I would say that the push of passion is a manipulation by people that don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart, but rather theirs, as passion, by definition, is an absolute contradiction to reason.

If you were to use your mind at its peak potential, how hard would it be to make you buy more stuff with money you don’t have? How hard would it be to make you feel inadequate if you don’t look like this, if you don’t wear that or if you don’t go there?

Remember Seneca that warned us 2000 years ago on that very phenomenon: you wouldn’t allow someone to abuse your body, and yet, you let so many unwanted people abuse your mind. Have you no shame?

And so when I am asked what I am passionate about, my answer is very clear. For what or whom would I not have the strength to use my mind and choose reason above passion? My child, my wife, and that is all. Or so I hope.

If you can catch yourself in between stimulus and response, if you can be mindful and self aware enough, always make the reasonable decision. Not the passionate one. You will be happier, healthier, you will trust yourself more, respect yourself more, and love yourself more.

How can you train that? Meditation for mindfulness, and philosophy to fight the corruption of your soul.

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