Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth


July 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I had one of THOSE moments over the weekend.  With a title such as passion, this likely requires significant qualification.

As an academic, I have the enormous privilege of attending conferences and speaking with thought leaders in my field.  Last week, the Canadian Positive Psychology Association hosted a conference in Ottawa where leading researchers and practitioners in positive psychology gathered to share ideas.  It was a monumental success.  I had inspiring experience after inspiring experience.  Our keynote speakers were particularly motivating – Sonja Lyubormirsky talked about the myth of happiness; Tim Kasser discussed materialism;  Michael Stegar presented on the meaning of life; and Robert Vallerand spoke about passion.  While I found all talks to be inspiring and insightful, I was particularly moved by Bob’s work on harmonious versus obsessive passion.

Across a large volume of studies, Bob has found that individuals who are harmoniously passionate about something (e.g., a sport, music, their work) enjoy outcomes such as positive emotion, achievement, quality relationships, and better health.  Individuals who are obsessively passionate suffer with psychological burn out, negative emotion, and poor connectedness to others.  In fact, he has found that obsessive passion can be the result of suffering in other domains of life.  In other words, we become obsessively passionate in order to compensate for things that are not going ‘right’ in our world.  I was fascinated by connections Bob made to job performance, activism, and general life satisfaction.  At the core of Bob’s model is the notion that in order to enjoy ‘optimal life functioning’ it is useful to have a passion that complements our lives rather than takes it over.

This conference sent me thinking and reading in a new direction.  I am completely jazzed by the experience.  There is a lot in this work that connects to some of my interests in motivation, self-efficacy, and strength based performance.  I already have a few research ideas percolating.  Stay tuned…


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