What the Hell is Passion, Anyway?

Author: Melissa Engasser, MS, BCBA

Author: Melissa Engasser, MS, BCBA

What the hell is passion anyway?

Alright behavior analysts, I think I know what you're thinking... “operationally define that!” Well, here are a few characteristics that I think are important to serve as a starting point:

  1. We sometimes talk about "Passion" when abolishing operations (satiation) temporarily seize to exist.
  2. We sometimes talk about "Passion" when there is a resistance to extinction. 
  3. It seems that the point in which things are introduced to your world is important when discussing "passion." That is, our rate of acquisition and the influence that various events have on our behavior (and relational networks) is important for them to have this "passionate" effect. Were they introduced too soon or too late, then they could lead to saying it was something other than "passion." 

Does that do it for everyone?

My current passions include helping humans via Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and ballet. These are two things that I cannot ever get enough of. Identifying your passions, are essential for long-term sustainability within your career path. At the end of the day, it’s this simple:

You must do what you love!

As cliché as this may sound (but as I explain below), passion is the variable that keeps on giving and what you will need to sustain and grow within your career or life. In behavioral terms, it provides you with the personal variables needed to continually tap into positive reinforcement and the motivation to sustain your behavior in the face of all other distractions (I'm talking years!).

How can I identify my Passion?

Well, this may be a bit of a complex journey, but I will boil it down to three simple components that helped me out:

  1. Perception of low response effort (It feels really easy to do)
  2. Access to positively reinforcing outcomes (You actually see success/correct responding within the tasks of that passion)
  3. Satiation pretty much seizes to exist (You can never have enough of it)

Many people confuse passion for really liking something; similar to how sometimes people confuse preferences to actual functional reinforcers.  If you feel lost or stuck, focusing on the key identifying features may help in finding your passion. If you're having a really difficult time and want to spend some more time on it with other like-minded people, well our event below is JUST for you. 

Have you found an area of passion? How are you pursuing it? Let us know below!

Why does Passion Matter?

In all honestly, its doesn’t matter. Finding your passion is not necessary. But it does lead to things like being happy and going through your work days as if it were not actually working. I’m happy I’ve identified and acted on my passions. I dare you to act on yours!

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(Or scroll down to learn about Melissa's work to date and where she sees behavior analysis expanding)