Unhealthy Obsession Versus Healthy Dedication
Unhealthy obsession and healthy dedication look similar in terms of manifest behavior so we have to isolate the underlying intentions if we want to figure out which is which.
We know we’re painting with a broad psychological brush but in general terms it could be said that with unhealthy obsession the underlying intention is to escape from life. The activity in question acts as the means for that escape. With healthy dedication the underlying intention is to engage with life. The activity in question acts as the means for that engagement. The first is running away while the second is running towards.
Both unhealthy obsession and healthy dedication require full attention but unhealthy obsession has an addictive quality to it, the person obsessed is not in the driver’s seat, isn’t really in control, this person is compulsively pulled along by the strength of the obsession. With healthy dedication it’s a total, active decision, this person is in the driver’s seat and remains in control of when and how behavior is enacted.
An unhealthy obsession might receive a lot of positive reinforcements like compliments or monetary rewards but the obsessed individual isn’t going to be authentically happy. A healthy dedication might not receive a lot of positive reinforcements like compliments or monetary rewards but the dedicated individual is going to be authentically happy. The existential reason why is simply that we need to be the central movers of our own growth. We’ve got to be active participants, our choices need to spring from what we genuinely want for ourselves not what we feel compulsively driven to do. And most importantly if we want to be happy we’ve to engage with life not run away from it.