VIA Survey of Character Strengths

This is a simple (but super comprehensive) self-assessment which provides a wealth of information to help you understand your core characteristics. Most personality tests focus on negative and neutral traits, but the VIA Survey focuses on your best qualities. If you'd like to learn about your unique strengths, this is the test to take. 

Maya Angelou on Courage and Facing Evil from Brain Pickings 

"Angelou was nothing if not a champion of the human spirit and its highest potentiality for good." 

How To Not Be Lonely In NYC by Holstee Co-Founder Fabian Pfortmüller

In this month's Passion Guide, we included a long-time Holstee favorite activity: naming your rose, bud, and thorn. In this aticle from the Mindful Matter archive, learn a little more about this exercise and how answering these questions might help us better connect with ourselves and each other. 

Roald Dahl: The Story Of The 'Storyteller' from NPR 

"Roald Dahl is best known for his children's stories. His first -- and arguably his most famous — was James and the Giant Peach, published in 1961, when Dahl was already in his mid-40s. But prior to finding his calling as a children's author, Dahl tried out several other careers..." Learn more about the life and career of beloved children's author, Roald Dahl. 

Talent, Passion, and the Creativity Maze by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer
“That ingredient, at least as important as the talent package described by Conant, is passion for the work — what psychologists call intrinsic motivation. Without it, no amount of talent will yield great performance. Arthur Schawlow, a Nobel laureate in physics, said it eloquently: 'The labor of love aspect is important. The successful scientists often are not the most talented, but the ones who are just impelled by curiosity. They’ve got to know what the answer is.' Intrinsically motivated people are more creative because they engage more deeply with the work.”

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. And in this book, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. This book teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think by Tim Urban

This post from Tim Urban's awesome blog Wait But Why is packed with wisdom on living authentically, overcoming fear, and learning to care a little less about what other think and live more meaningful lives. It's one of our all-time favorites.

Kierkegaard & Nietzsche: Two Different Passions

“An important part of both philosopher's view is the role of passion. For Kierkegaard, the only way to achieve authentic existence is by making a passionate commitment to a way of life. Kierkegaard would go so far as to say that "it is impossible to exist without passion.” For Nietzsche, passion is also important. To deny the passions altogether was for Nietzsche a grave mistake and part of the life-denying view of the herd. "An attack on the roots of passion means an attack on the roots of life." 

Extraordinary Routines

One of the best ways we can learn to live more engaged and passion-filled lives is to look to our heroes for guidance. Sometimes it's helpful to see that someone's life doesn't look quite like what we imagine, and that most people have a winding path to get to wherever they are despite society tricking us into thinking it's a straight line to finding our passions, being successful, and living a fulfilled life. This is one of our favorite resources for just a little glimpse into the day-to-day life of many creative people all over the world. It's a helpful reminder that a passion-filled life looks different for everyone, and usually comes down to just showing up every day. 

How to Do What You Love by Paul Graham

"To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We've got it down to four words: 'Do what you love.' But it's not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated."

Passion and Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson Ph.D.

“The difference is that a harmonious passion has no psychological strings attached other than its enjoyment. In contrast, an obsessive passion entails dependence on the passionate activity. Consider two passionate joggers who injure themselves. The one who has harmonious passion about running will take time off and heal. The other who has obsessive passion will keep running and likely make the injury worse.” Here we have a scientific perspective on healthy and unhealthy passions.

Ask Andrew W.K.: ‘How Do You Find Your Passion?’ by Andrew W.K.

Wisdom from one of our favorite, if unexpected, modern philosophers — the rock star and writer Andrew W.K. In 2015, Andrew was asked, “How do you figure out what your passion is?” by a reader of his popular column in The Village Voice. 



You've probably seen a number of popular inspirational commencement speeches, but this one is worth a second (or third!) visit. His words are reassuring and moving not just for artists, but for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out how they should be spending their days and who they wish to be (AKA all of us). 

One of our absolute favorite resources for digging a little deeper into many of aspects of Positive Psychology and Philosophy (many of which align very nicely with our monthly themes!) is The School of Life. In this video, they offer us a helpful reality check on traditional work paradigms and how most of us exist within them, and share some suggestions on creating positive change in a larger way.  

"About three and a half years ago, I made a discovery and this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked and it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out there’s a pattern. All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers – they all think, act, and communicate the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it. It’s probably the world’s simplest idea and I call it the Golden Circle. Why? How? What?"


Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies Quiz
There are a million amazing personality tests that (when interpreted correctly) can help us understand ourselves a little better. But one of our favorites we want to share this month is Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies. The test and personality types come from her book Better Than Before, and relate specifically to how we build habits — a helpful thing to think about on our quest to discover what we care about, how we can prioritize those things, and how to engage with them meaningfully. You'll find out if you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel and what that says about how you set goals, build habits, and what you're motivated by (think: intrinsic or extrinsic motivation). 


How Silicon Valley Can Help You Get Unstuck, Hidden Brain 

"Design thinking is about recognizing your constraints, realizing there isn't just one answer, and then trying something: 'Building a prototype,' getting information from it, and then trying something else." Listen as Shankar Vedantam, host of NPR's Hidden Brain, speaks with Stanford University professor and Silicon Valley veteran Dave Evans about his course and book "Designing Your Life." He offers some creative strategies and techniques to each of us for rethinking the way we go about finding meaningful work. 

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Passion.


Our Themes

Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.