Book review: The Passion Paradox, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

If you want some basic, good quality health and wellbeing advice then Brad Stulberg is your guy. His twitter feed (@BStulberg) is full of simple common sense and his articles, while always evidence based, are written in a way you actually want to read. He turns the driest of journal papers into actionable advice.

I figured the book he has recently written with Steve Magness (a running coach) would be good. And it is. It looks at Passion; a characteristic many of us have for something in our lives; either a sport, a hobby, an idea, a thing or a ideology. It highlights the benefits of that passion but also shows where it can all go horribly wrong when we take it too far.

Almost every athlete I work with as a sport psychologist has immense passion for their sport and initially I thought this was necessary. But spend a few years with athletes and you see that it is those who overdo that passion; who make it their entire self-identity, become obsessive, and who block out other things in their lives who struggle the most. We can be too passionate, and when we are, the thing that used to give us such joy starts to elicit misery.

Stulberg and Magness’s book takes us through these pros and cons of passion and helps us to shape our own passion in a way which provides balance and success so we have a genuine choice about what we do with our passion.

I really liked the box out advice sections (the Passion Practices) which make the book really usable. Other elements (like short sections on self-distancing) were also great to give instant accessible research outcomes we can instantly apply to ourselves.

I felt reassured the authors promote mastery mind sets (so managing to master the process rather than focusing on the outcomes) as this is a message I use all the time with athletes and can make a real difference to their enjoyment of sport. I also love the focus on fear which can sometimes push our passion projects. Many pop-psychology books are so focused on the positive they ignore what fuels many of us – our fears.

The book is really easy to read, instantly applicable to your own passion and very much needed in a world that idolises passion way beyond a level that is healthy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s