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Home > Blog > Passionate work takes less brain juice
Out of Our Minds
Thursday, October 20, 2005 11:24 AM
Passionate work takes less brain juice
Curt Rosengren on Passionate Work

I'm always interested in hard data that back up my ideas on passion. I just ran across a snippet from a Psychology Today article that reinforces the notion that a career path spent trying to be who you're not (which sadly is the case for many people out there) takes more energy than a career where you're aligned with what comes naturally.

My definition of passion is, 'The energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.' Essentially, it's being who you are, doing what you are naturally drawn to, with the gifts and skills that you most enjoy putting to use. One of the effects that comes from that is a more frequent feeling of flow, that place where you get immersed and lose track of time.

According to the article:

Neurological studies of people in flow show that the brain expends less energy than when they are wrestling with a problem. One reason seems to be that the parts of the brain most relevant for the task at hand are most active, and those that are irrelevant are relatively quiet. By contrast, when one is in a state of anxiety or confusion, there is no such distinction in activity levels between parts of the brain.


In contrast to that state of flow, I've found that following a career path that is out of alignment with who we really are can cause a steady hum of anxiety and effort, just to maintain the status quo.

Seems like finding work you can be passionate about makes sense from a pure 'resource management' perspective.


2 comments

Max Leibman - 10/23/2005 11:58:28 PM
Great piece!

I'm with you--be who you are. It's enough work to be good at something you're meant to be; being something you're not supposed to be to begin with, then trying to be good at it on top of that isn't just futile...it's bad for the soul.

And this is just one more of a growing body of data that backs that up. Lovin' it.
Jennifer Pearson - 10/22/2005 2:48:11 PM
I completely agree. After spending over 6 years trying to force fit myself into a corporate job, I finally found my true calling as a life coach. Now when people ask me how work is going, I have to pause and think 'Oh, yeah, that's supposed to be work.'

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