Salvaging Obsession

Obsession is a word that gets a bad wrap. Obsession carries all the negative emotions of a life lived out of balance. It's common to place obsession in the same category as the word addiction. The association is often warranted, but I believe it's time we change that.

For me, obsession is what makes people interesting. Obsession manifests itself in different ways for different people and that's what makes it fascinating. Obsession is the desire to experience something to its fullest extent. Used for good, it can be what makes us try again after every one else has given up. Obsession is what makes us go beyond what is acceptable in pursuit of something fantastic that we believe in. Obsession describes a state of focus more than an involuntary dependence on an unhealthy vice (that's addiction).

Addiction can't be leveraged for good, though I believe obsession can. Obsession is more congruent with resilience than addiction. Resilience is revered and celebrated by all levels of our society. Once an obsession has bred success it is revered, and all the sacrifices it took to get to that place are forgotten.

Many of us don't even know what we'd like to obsess about. What is worth that kind of sacrifice on a daily basis? How can I even know that? I've been there—it ebbs and flows if I'm not deliberate about it. I find I have to ask: "what is the one thing I must do today, this week, this year?" far more often than I'm comfortable having to do on a regular basis. It's the only way to stay focused, to stay aware of my purpose, and to know where I need to grow.

I've decided that obsession is good for me. It's a lens through which to look at the things before me and decide what matters most. It helps me weed out the needless distractions. Obsession just might be what sets apart the thriving from the surviving. I'm ready to obsess, so I can do more than survive.