By Jessica Scott, Treasurer for the Virtues Circle
I chose to write about Enthusiasm this month, but the irony is that I didn’t feel very enthusiastic when it came time to write. Once I finally sat down to ponder Enthusiasm and put my fingers to the keyboard, I began to feel inspired with the idea of finding joy in the simplest of things. You see, I tend to over-complicate things and if I feel overwhelmed, I hold back, but once I take the initiative to engage with the action I have been putting off, I feel an excitement and go for it wholeheartedly. I begin to realize that the tasks or actions are actually quite simple; the complication was just a manifestation of my thinking.
So, now that I am writing about Enthusiasm and how I apply it in my everyday life, I have gained a deeper awareness of what it means to be Enthusiastic. Enthusiasm doesn’t always come right away, especially if we let our negativity distort the simple pleasures of life. It really comes down to perspective. When I approach life in a way where I live in the moment with optimism, wonder and excitement, I begin to find joy in the simplest of things. Life becomes more pleasurable and meaningful.
“Nothing great was ever achieved without Enthusiasm” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
To apply Enthusiasm in your everyday life, open yourself to the following practices:
1. Be excited about your life
When I open myself up to the wonders and endless possibilities of life, I find passion and excitement in the simplest of things. I find gratitude in the good, the bad and the ugly. I am grateful for the contrast, as the negative helps me to learn and grow, as well as providing contrast to the positive. A great way to look at it is by comparing the stars of the night sky. On a sunny day, we cannot see the stars, but in the dark of the night, they shine brightly. We need the dark to better see the light. This is comforting to me, as it helps me understand and better appreciate this journey we call life.
“None are so old as those who have outlived Enthusiasm.”- Henry David Thoreau
2. Do things wholeheartedly
When I approach things in my life with passion, the simplest of tasks become a joy. For any of those musicians out there – you know that excitement you feel about learning to play a new instrument and you just want to pick it up and play it? Then once you go at it, you find you need to build up and learn the basics, while training muscle memory. Sometimes, this is discouraging, but then we make progress and the excitement returns. Finding pleasure in even the mundane things can bring more joy to your life. It’s really quite simple. Just imagine the possibilities and go for it!
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really HAPPY is something to be ENTHUSIASTIC about.” - C. Kingsley
3. Be inspired by simple things
Are you starting to see the pattern here? What feelings stir in you when you watch a butterfly flitter around? How about the sound of the waves on the seashore crashing in? These are simple treasures that are abundant in life. For any of you who have children in your life, how about when they took their first step or said their first word? Remember the exhilaration of such a simple thing, that we, once learned, take for granted every day. Find the value in all things and embrace the joy in the simplest of things.
4. Put love and joy into what you do
Everything I go after, especially when new, I go after with zeal. There are times I feel discouraged, but as soon as I get into it, I hold nothing back. I invest my heart and soul into my tasks, even in everyday tasks. This enables me to appreciate the little things and the big things. No task is too big or small. So when presented with things you might consider a job, chore or task, look at it as an opportunity to enrich your life and others. Check your motives, are they coming from a place of love and joy for yourself and others? Or is it more of a conquest with expectations to benefit only you? Something as simple as doing the dishes, my least favorite chore, can be turned into joy when I approach it from a place of love. Meaning, I am doing a service for my family without need for praise or reward other than to simply do what needs to be done for our health and well-being.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” - Confucius
5. Smile, laugh and have a good sense of humor
This is by far the easiest for me! 99% of the time I am caught smiling. I can find humor in just about anything. I am super silly, goofy and awkward. An odd nickname given to me by my peers was “Smilesalot”; I guess there are worse things I could have been called. Humor makes for a great ice-breaker in tense situations, and can ease the pain in many others. Laughter is said to be the best cure for whatever ails you, and a smile can brighten anyone’s day, including yours. If you are feeling out of sorts… smile; it releases the feel-good hormones and can turn your day around. Find the humor in life and learn to laugh at yourself. Tap into your silly side. Life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously that we miss the joy of it all. Humor feeds my Enthusiasm.
“The best way to cheer yourself up, is to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain
6. Have a positive spirit
To bridge the chasm to Enthusiasm, keep positive. Now, I am not saying you should put blinders on and not see the negative in situations. However, understanding those negatives aids us in seeing the positive. Approach all you do in life with Enthusiasm. Find the joy in all things and keep it simple. Leave the expectations out of the equation. We can’t know the future, so why waste your present moment putting energy into something that hasn’t come to pass? When we open ourselves up to the present moment, we are truly living life instead of losing ourselves in our heads. Keep it real, stay true to who you are and approach life with a positive outlook. Always be on the lookout for the gifts of joy. They are always there if you open yourself up to them, bringing forth your Enthusiasm.
Board members of the Virtues Circle write our weekly blog, along with other guest bloggers.