6 Obsessions that Will Make you a Better Person

“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.” ~ Paul Carvel

NOTE: Check out the companion post to this one called 7 Obessions Guaranteed to Improve your Life guest posted at Pick the Brain. Then come back and finish reading here for a total of 13 obsessions!

Obsession is a lot like holding a flame in your hand. It is powerful and can produce the heat of passion and power and drive. But it can also consume and destroy. The trick is to keep the flame burning without succumbing to the temptation to aim the heat too exclusively at a single target.

6 Recommended Obsessions for a Better Life

1. Be Obsessed with your Family

Those who obsess over their families are those who uncontrollably and unconditionally love them. They spend lots of time together, play together, laugh together and bond with each other.

They also develop strange little practices like regular date nights and family nights. They prioritize family time high on their to-do lists. They care about how they’re doing as dads and moms and husbands and wives and make regular adjustments to improve.

But Beware the Counterfeit

Jealousy is not love or devotion. It is a fraudulent emotional replica of love. It is insecurity, plain and simple. It’s an emotional infection that can spread and corrupt the organism of relationship, marriage and family.

Root it out, cure it, disinfect the emotional wound before it destroys the real love that still exists. Obsession with family really has no relationship to jealousy. Jealousy is self-obsession, a form of self-absorption, a selfishness that lashes out when threatened. The family suffers at the hand of that emotional disease.

2. Be Obsessed with your Values

Do you have a clear set of values? Do you live your life by them? Do they influence your choices as a reflection of how you choose to live? Or are they things that sit on a shelf you pick up and put down at will?

Those who are obsessed with their values are willing to sacrifice much to maintain them –this sometimes includes their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor.” They yearn to live by their values and exercise integrity to them.

They are very clear about what matters most to them and can articulate their values very clearly when asked to. They seldom, if ever, compromise on their moral standards and hold them as near and dear to their hearts. An obsession with your values is a way to live more perfectly by them.

But Beware the Counterfeit

It is wonderful to passionately advocate a set of beliefs. I do that here. But never allow yourself to even dream of imposing them on others. If your values have led you to degrade or belittle or hurt or threaten others for holding a different set than yours, you have devalued the quality of what you believe. Pull back far away from that ledge!

3. Be Obsessed with your Health

A peek in your refrigerator or behind the doors of your pantry will tell a pretty accurate story of your obsession (or a lack thereof) with health. Those obsessed with improving their health reflect that obsession in the food they choose to bring into their homes.

For those obsessed with health, flavor ceases to be the primary goal when creating a meal. They care deeply about the long-term impact of what they put in their mouths and make a part of their cellular structure.

They believe in the literalness of the truism that we are, in fact, what we eat. They make exercise an integral part of their life experience as well. As a matter of fact, they have a comprehensive approach to living healthy.

They care how they feel and how they live and how long they’ll be around to pursue their life’s work. Quality and longevity of life are important to them.

At its highest form, an obsession with health is an altruistic obsession. It cares more for loved ones and their happiness than any particular flavor you put in your mouth or a preference for sitting around the house with a bag of potato chips in hand.

But Beware the Counterfeit

An obsession with appearance or weight or body fat or build is an unhealthy obsession and should be avoided at all costs. I am advocating a mild obsession with HEALTH. And anorexia and bulimia are certainly NOT healthy.

A preoccupation with the mirror or the scale is not what I’m talking about either. Nose jobs and other cosmetic surgical procedures are largely the result of a devotion to the wrong kind of obsession.

4. Be Obsessed with Learning

Don’t let a day go by that you don’t learn something new. Be obsessed with developing your intellect and ability to use your God-given mind closer to its full potential.

Some people claim they’re just not readers. But that is such a cop-out. The world’s great ideas are not floating through the atmosphere waiting to be plucked out of the sky. They are recorded in books, waiting to be absorbed into fertile minds. And ideas matter. They alter courses and change civilizations.

So read and study, whether or not you like reading or studying. Stimulate your mind and creativity, challenge yourself, tackle difficult subjects, build your vocabulary, your ability to communicate the growing knowledge you obsessively acquire.

Develop a passion for knowing, for discovering. Yearn to learn and understand. Create a passionate love affair with the words “why” and “how” and “why not?” and “what if.” Turn off the reality shows and watch the Learning channel or something equivalent to it. Feed the hunger of your mind. Listen to books on tape, listen to talk programs in the car.

Those obsessed with learning are passionate about learning from their own mistakes and from others mistakes as well. They welcome challenges as a way to discover new insight and meaning about themselves or life or humanity.

But Beware the Counterfeit

It is important to employ wisdom in your pursuit of knowledge. To pursue knowledge and its application without the moderating voice of wisdom is to walk blindly through a minefield. Eventually someone is going to get blown up!

5. Be Obsessed with Making a Difference

Do you yearn to leave an impact on world (or your community)? Do you ache to leave the world a better place than when you found it? Do you look for ways to add meaning and value to people’s lives, to reach out and touch someone, to lift the downtrodden? If so, you may be suffering from this obsession. My recommendation? Give in to it!

Those obsessed with making a difference are not satisfied in a cubicle. They can’t add numbers in columns for hours on end or shuffle papers or attend mindless meeting after mindless meeting.

They may do those things as part of a larger mission, but they can’t simply bring home a paycheck without something deeply moving about the work they do, the difference they make.

They have to touch lives, inspire something more in those who are living under their potentials. They almost instinctively lift and build and encourage and motivate and teach and elevate and reach and comfort and love others.

Their hearts beat differently than most. They thump to the tune of other hearts. They dream of being able to reach more people, impact more people and inspire change and growth in more people. Is this your obsession?

But Beware the Counterfeit

There are, however, some who care only for others. They are the martyrs and victims, the ones who wonder why no one cares for them like they care for others. They pity themselves for always serving and never being served.

And so they resent the service they give even while giving it. And they miss the point of service altogether, receiving few, if any, of its benefits.

6. Be Obsessed with Balance

Obsessions are intense things. They are focused like a laser beam on the object of the obsession.

As such, they can easily take control and throw our lives out of whack. But with an underlying obsession with balance, other obsessions don’t overtake the rest of life. There is equanimity, a sort of life equilibrium.

Obsessive compulsions are moderated so that an obsession to ones work is prevented from pushing family and friends to the back of life’s bus.

An obsession with balance can tame success in any given area of life, it’s true. But it is the only way to achieve the highest kind of success … the success of a life lived well.

But Beware the Counterfeit

The only counterfeit to balance is thinking all things must be perfectly balanced at all times. When you’re working on your Masters Thesis, you will be off balance for a time. You should be or you’ll do a sub par job or never even finish it.

When a project is due, it’s okay to come home late from work every day for a week or two. On family vacation, you will neglect your work and indulge your family.

But never use the need for balance as the excuse for never working hard enough in an area of life to ever become particularly good at anything.

Afterthoughts

Successful living is living with passion. It is being obsessed with living the right kind of life in the right way. It is an obsession with making the most out of the life you were given.

An obsession with life is an obsession with living it to its fullest, loving it even for all its dirty messiness.

 

YOUR TURN!

What obsessions do you have that have served you? What obsessions will you develop for 2012?
Please share in the comments below.

Don’t forget to Share and Tweet this post if you found value here. And after you’re done sharing and commenting, head on over to Pick the Brain to read the companion piece to 6 Obsessions by clicking here: 7 Obsessions Guaranteed to Improve your Life

Now go and get obsessed with living!

 Flickr Image: loracyevrah