Maintaining a passion for a job not only keeps us motivated but also keeps us in a positive state of mind, as a study shows.
As we get older, we may tend to “let go”. We don’t want to go out and don’t want to be motivated to pursue our usual activities or even our passions.
However, according to a new study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), keeping the flame of passion burning is crucial to staying healthy and happy.
The paper, published in New Ideas in Psychology, examined the connection between passion, courage, and a positive state of mind in subjects ranging from 14 to 77 years of age.
“Our passion controls the direction of the arrow, what gets us fired up, and what we want to achieve. Courage determines our strength, how willing we are to work for something,” says Professor Hermundur Sigmundsson from NTNU’s Department of Psychology.
Passion is the holy fire
To investigate these connections between passion and positivity, the researchers recruited 917 participants in different age groups. According to them, “these correlations remain quite similar between the ages of 14 and 53.
What characterizes even young people, especially boys, is the correlation between passion and courage: if they are enthusiastic about something, young people are willing to make a great effort to achieve it.
This correlation is also found in other age groups. People who are truly in love are willing to work harder to achieve their goals, and when they encounter difficulties, they persevere.
Decreased motivation with age
However, the authors found that this correlation decreases with age. From the age of 50, a change occurs: the connection between passion and courage becomes almost non-existent. This means that at a certain age you may be full of good intentions and be enthusiastic about something, but lose your motivation when the time comes.
Does this mean that older people rarely stick to their wishes unless they find something they are really interested in? Sigmundsson believes that this is the right question. In his opinion, people over 50 are very passionate, but they tend to have less courage.
“This means that it is more difficult to mobilize our courage and will, even if we have the passion. Or we have the courage and the will, but we are not so enthusiastic”.
Positive thinking works the same way. At the age of 50, we may still be passionate, but we may have lost faith in our ability to achieve our goals. Or we can run our business, but without an inner passion for it anymore.
Rekindling the flame of passion
So what can we do to avoid this? “One must try to find meaningful activities and interests that can be pursued with courage and strong will. It is important to light up the spark, regardless of age,” says Professor Sigmundsson, who gives the example of an 85-year-old ice skating world champion who still trains on the ice. “The key is to stay in the activity you choose,” he concludes.