The Passion Paradox Book Summary - The Passion Paradox Book explained in key points
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The Passion Paradox summary

Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life

4.3 (295 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness explores the complexities of passion and how it can be both beneficial and detrimental. They offer insights into finding balance and avoiding burnout.

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    The Passion Paradox
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Passion has linguistic roots in suffering, and its biological mechanism ties in with addiction.

    The story of passion is one that stretches back a long way. Although nowadays we tend to view passion as a term with positive attributes, this wasn’t always the case.

    Passion finds its linguistic roots in the Latin “passio,” which literally means “suffering.” For much of its history, this suffering was exclusively associated with the passion of one person – Jesus Christ.

    But, as for many other words, passion’s meaning changed over time. By the Middle Ages, passion was also being used to refer to the suffering of people other than Christ. And by the Renaissance, the term slowly took on non-negative connotations. Poets like Geoffrey Chaucer began to use the word to describe surging emotions in general, and it was Shakespeare who finally used the term in a more positive light to describe the uncontrollable desire one feels for another person.

    The story of the term doesn’t end there, however. It took another couple of centuries for the meaning of passion to extend beyond people to activities or career choices. By the 1970s, phrases like “follow your passion” had begun to emerge; passion-seeking had finally become an important part of the average person’s life.

    And the concept has only become more important since then, with Generation X and Millennials even more enthralled by fulfilling their personal passions than their baby-boomer predecessors.

    Just like the word “passion,” the biological mechanisms of passion itself have both positive and negative connotations.

    That’s because passion is regulated by dopamine, a powerful neurochemical that motivates us to do things. Once released by the brain, dopamine pushes us toward our goals and makes us crave rewards. Dopamine drives passionate people in their pursuits but also motivates drug addicts to satisfy their cravings.

    Only the finest of lines exists between the personalities of extremely passionate people and those of drug addicts. That’s because while dopamine motivates us to pursue rewards, the chemical dissipates once we receive them. This, of course, leaves us yearning for more.

    And, as with addictive drugs, the more dopamine we experience, the higher our tolerance for it becomes. We begin to set our goals higher and place ever-increasing importance on chasing our passions. And we’re never satisfied with the reward; it’s the process of reaching the reward that releases that sweet dopamine.

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    What is The Passion Paradox about?

    The Passion Paradox (2019) uncovers the biology behind passion and shows how you can harness it to help achieve your dreams. The thrill of following your passion has a more serious side, however, because it can completely consume your life. By following the authors’ advice, you can live a life full of passion while still avoiding pitfalls along the way.

    The Passion Paradox Review

    The Passion Paradox (2019) explores the complex relationship between passion and success, and offers valuable insights on how to find balance and fulfillment in our pursuits. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It challenges the traditional notion of passion as an all-consuming force, and offers a fresh perspective on how to cultivate a healthy, sustainable passion.
    • By drawing from real-life stories and cutting-edge research, the book presents a nuanced understanding of passion's impact on our well-being, performance, and relationships.
    • The authors' practical recommendations and actionable strategies empower readers to pursue their passions while avoiding burnout and finding joy in the process.

    Who should read The Passion Paradox?

    • Young adults beginning to follow their dreams
    • Passionate people who’ve hit a roadblock on their journey toward success
    • Curious minds looking to understand the mechanisms behind passion

    About the Author

    Brad Stulberg is a coach, researcher, author and lecturer specializing in human performance. His articles have been featured in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Forbes, as well as countless other publications.

    Steve Magness is a coach who’s worked with some of the best long-distance runners in the world. He is also the author of the 2014 book The Science of Running.

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    The Passion Paradox FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Passion Paradox?

    The main message of The Passion Paradox is to find a balance between passion and obsession for optimal performance and fulfillment.

    How long does it take to read The Passion Paradox?

    The reading time for The Passion Paradox varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Passion Paradox a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Passion Paradox is worth reading as it explores the complex relationship between passion and success. It offers valuable insights and practical strategies for achieving a more balanced approach to life.

    Who is the author of The Passion Paradox?

    The authors of The Passion Paradox are Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.

    What to read after The Passion Paradox?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Passion Paradox, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg
    • Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
    • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
    • Master of Change by Brad Stulberg
    • The Daily Laws by Robert Greene
    • Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
    • Think Remarkable by Guy Kawasaki & Madisun Nuismer