Passionate People: What Makes Them So Different?

Passionate people are distinguished by their enthusiasm. They know how to make the most of life. They also possess a tireless obsession to achieve their dreams. Do you know anyone with these kinds of qualities?
Passionate People: What Makes Them So Different?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Passionate people see life as a fruit that must be squeezed to the maximum. They inspire and often even exhaust us. That’s because their impetus and motivation is so excessive and effervescent that it’s difficult to keep up with them. However, they stand out for their unique psychological strengths.

Albert Einstein said that he, in reality, had no special talent, but was simply passionately curious. This trait is like a kind of gasoline that ignites what’s best in those who possess it. It’s the beacon that guides them in achieving the highest of purposes and is a virtue capable of transforming the world.

After all, it’s only those who are truly passionate about their dreams and goals who manage to cross the borders that no one has ever previously dared to break down. Only those who are clear about what they want are able to mobilize all their energies, efforts, and hopes toward that goal. Without a doubt, they’re the figures that we most need in our lives and our society.

However, are passionate people born or made? Let’s take a look.

Having passion means harboring daily purposes to fight for without giving up.

Boy walking between mountains applying the Goldilocks rule
Passionate people trust in themselves and in what they propose, even if others don’t understand.

What differentiates passionate people from the rest of us?

One of the most prominent experts in the study of the psychology of passion is the psychologist, Robert J. Vallerand. He’s been a pioneer in providing a theoretical compendium on the subject, clarifying ideas and providing valuable information. In fact, in 2018, he put forward an interesting definition of passionate people.

He claimed that the man or woman with these traits shows an inclination toward an activity or activities that are meaningful to them and in which they invest a great deal of time and energy. However, it’s often quite difficult to understand these personalities. What’s undeniable is that whatever field they work and circulate in, they always cause a stir and both surprise and fascinate us in equal measure.

What makes them this way? Can we also inject ourselves with the same invigorating spirit?

“Passion is the genesis of genius.”


Two types of passion

In his book, The Psychology of Passion: A Dualistic Model, Vallerand claims that there are two types of passionate people. The former shows a type of harmonious passion, the kind that always benefits them and allows them to achieve their goals, as well as high levels of well-being and satisfaction.

On the other hand, passion may also turn into obsessional behavior. In this case, it can lead to maladaptive and sometimes even problematic behaviors. One example might be someone losing a relationship in favor of achieving a professional goal. As a matter of fact, these two frequently demonstrated kinds of passion are two sides of the same coin.

Passionate people relate to life with great enthusiasm

One dimension that defines passionate people is enthusiasm. Indeed, there seems to be no middle ground for them. They’re either captivated by something or bored with it, either deeply absorbed in some project or another, or climbing the walls with sheer frustration. They’re active, proactive, highly curious, born explorers, and lovers of innovation.

In their minds they always have a goal to achieve, a dream to conquer, a star to touch… Furthermore, they connect with their immediate reality and with the people around them with great effusiveness, positivity, and energy.

Perseverance and resistance are their main characteristics

Passionate people know that life can trip them up at any moment. They’re aware that they won’t consistently achieve what they want but they don’t give up. If necessary, they’ll just go the long way around. They’ll accept that they may have to stumble a thousand times but will learn from each mistake, thus achieving motivation, resilience, and courage along the way.

Passionate people trust themselves. They’re aware of their limits, but try to surpass themselves whenever they can.

They cultivate optimism

Passionate people possess healthy and meaningful optimism. They don’t see life through rose-tinted glasses but instead, make the much-needed mental effort to see solutions to every problem. They’re the kinds of people who have the hope and desire instilled in them to excel, whatever the circumstance.

In answer to the question of whether passionate people are born or made, we can probably say that around 80 percent of them exhibit these traits from birth. They have great skills in managing stress and overcoming difficulties. In fact, they possess the ability to always see the silver lining in every cloud.

Woman in yellow sweater focuses her gaze towards the camera
A passionate person is defined by having a mind that’s permanently focused on what they want to achieve.

A sense of belonging and orientation

One of their most outstanding characteristics is their sense of belonging. They experience great pleasure and motivation being part of a social group. They’re those extraordinary colleagues and even great leaders who are capable of successfully guiding their teams and employees. They know how to build enriching and productive ties.

Another trait is their clear goal orientation. They always have a plan or purpose in mind and need to set themselves both short and long-term challenges. These expectations are influenced by their strong values and vital sense of being.

Passionate people possess a natural ability to enjoy the little things

Living with passion means trying to intensely enjoy every moment. Passionate people see the positive side of each and every circumstance, appreciate what they have, and understand that reality exists beyond goals, work, and dreams.

Everything that happens in the here and now is important for passionate people. They don’t disregard anything. This means they never miss opportunities, laughter, company, complicity, and fun.

Indeed, for this kind of personality, everything is worthwhile.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Vallerand, Robert. (2007). On the Psychology of Passion: In Search of What Makes People’s Lives Most Worth Living. Canadian Psychology-psychologie Canadienne – CAN PSYCHOL-PSYCHOL CAN. 49. 10.1037/0708-5591.49.1.1.
  • Vallerand, R.J. The role of passion in sustainable psychological well-being. Psych Well-Being 2, 1 (2012).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.