Health and Behavior

Finding your passion


 

Bryan Saville

Picture this: It’s 20 years down the road and every day you find yourself counting down the minutes to 5 o’clock because you aren’t passionate about what you do. According to a recent Gallup poll, that’s a reality for 70 percent of people who claim to dislike their chosen profession.

Dr. Bryan Saville, associate professor of psychology, spoke to JMU students March 3 about the importance of finding your passion and how doing so can affect your psychological health.

During his talk, titled “Passion: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Saville explained that there are two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. The determining factor is the feeling of control. People who are harmoniously passionate about something are freely passionate about it and feel in control. Obsessively passionate people feel pressure to engage in an activity and likely did not choose what they wanted to do.

“It’s never too late to pursue something that you are passionate about. I always tell my students that 22 is the prime age to get out there and mess something up. Just ask yourself, what would you do if you couldn’t fail?”

Studies conducted by psychology students in Saville’s Passion for Activities Lab found that JMU students studying the humanities (English, music, art, etc.) were the most passionate about their chosen majors, while students studying math and science were the least passionate.

The studies also showed that obsessive passion predicts problematic drinking, disordered eating and exercise addiction, whereas harmonious passion only predicts sleeping better. Additionally, obsessively passionate students exhibited cumulative GPAs equivalent to those students who had no passion at all.

“The type of passion matters,” Saville said. “Having passion might be better than having no passion, but obsessive passion is not good."

Finding your passion isn’t something you can simply Google. Saville recommends the following tips to help you begin your search:

Try new things

Take chances! Go find something new and try that. Don’t let the possibility of failure hold you back.

Find the value in different activities

Go into a new activity with an open mind. You might find something you actually enjoy doing.

Focus on your strengths

Don’t focus on your weaknesses. Identify the things that you are good at and do those things.

Hang out with supportive people

Research shows that when you hang out with people who support you, you are more likely to find your passion.

Be present

Put down your phone and pay attention to the world around you. You are constantly thinking about what’s happening next, rather than what is happening now.

Stop multitasking

You can’t find your passion if you have too much on your plate. Take time to do one thing at a time and then you will be able to identify what you actually enjoy doing. 

Reflect

Ask yourself these questions: When are you totally into things? Do you feel happy during and after an activity? Do you feel in control? And most importantly, when do you feel alive?

“It’s never too late to pursue something that you are passionate about,” Saville said. “I always tell my students that 22 is the prime age to get out there and mess something up. Just ask yourself, what would you do if you couldn’t fail?”

###

Jordan Bogner (’15)

March 9, 2015

Published: Monday, March 9, 2015

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back to Top

    Related Articles

  • ahmad-abdul-ali-172x103.jpg Burning desire to pay it forward

    Ahmad Abdul-Ali ('12) is an amazing story of resiliency and kindness.

  • Jaime Kurtz book thumb Avoiding the travelers' blues

    While canceled flights and lost luggage are certainly concerns for travelers, the book focuses more on . . .

  • mm-jennifer-marshall-portrait.jpg Finding her brave

    Jennifer Marshall ('01) transformed her battle with mental illness into triumph and galvanized a movement


Read More