Another Word for Joy: Lesson 2 – Enthusiasm

Nifty Interesting Continuing Education (NICE) presents:

Another Word for Joy: Lesson 2

A few months ago, I went to an event in the city where people told stories about themselves. They were true stories, and maybe I remembered them for a few days. But there was something else from that night that made the biggest impression: the enthusiasm of the guy who had put the show together.

He was smiling and waving his arms around and generally bringing a lot of energy to the event. He was excited and encouraging, inviting audience members to participate. It was, in my mind, a refreshing example of enthusiasm – and it seemed like it had been a while since I’d seen any.

Welcome to Lesson 2: Enter with Enthusiasm.

The not-so-great followup to this is that I recently looked up the website for this monthly event and it hadn’t been updated for nearly three months. It makes me wonder: did he lose his enthusiasm? Has this become yet another of those great ideas that ran out of steam?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon a great website that promises all kinds of interaction and goodness, only to find that there has been no activity for several years. Like the dinosaur bones, they are merely evidence of something that once walked the Internet. What happened to the enthusiasm of that first launch day?

Is enthusiasm endangered?

This is an important question when it comes to Joy. Because enthusiasm is one of the most joyful expressions of interest and commitment.

The word itself has roots in words meaning “from god” or “god within”. An enthusiastic person may appear to be possessed – or obsessed, in it’s darker form. Are enthusiastic people able to tap into a god-source for the extra energy required?

Let’s start by thinking of the last time you noticed that someone was very enthusiastic about something. Who was it? What was it about? Was it you? If not, when was the last time you were enthusiastic about something? Was it a project at work? A book or movie that moved you? A new hobby? Maybe something you tried as a child. If you are having trouble thinking of something, don’t give up. There is no time limit on enthusiasm. If you felt it, it is yours, no matter when.

In this lesson, your goal is to learn what your very own sources of enthusiasm are. We’ll look at ways to build enthusiasm when you think you need it.

Homework #1: Examples of Enthusiasm

Carry a pen and paper or a smart phone with you as you go about your day. When you notice someone who seems enthusiastic to you, make a note of it. How do they look? Sound? What made you notice their enthusiasm?  Find at least five examples of enthusiasm over the next few days. Yes, they can be on TV.

One thing we can be sure of: enthusiasm takes energy. It can make people bounce, dance, stretch to their limits. Where does that energy come from? What is the impetus that boosts interest to the level of enthusiasm?

If there was an equation for enthusiasm, it would look something like this: E(nthusiasm) = I(nterest) * M(y motivation). Your M is that thing that moves you from thinking to doing, from a bubbling idea to a full-fledged plan. It is your multiplier of motivation. It can be several things that combine to take you from “sure” to “oh, yeah!”.

Do you have a particular passion, pride or awe associated with the Interest? Do you feel gratitude or involvement? These are the kinds of things that can multiply your interest into enthusiasm.

While I was working on this lesson, I began to doubt. Could enthusiasm ever last? Was it doomed to fade? I felt like I had lost my enthusiasm for this lesson.

But something out there wanted me to keep going. It sent me hints. I turned to the next page in a book I was reading and the heading was “Enthusiasm”. Still I procrastinated.

Then I followed a link that someone had posted on social media and without knowing what I had been looking for, I found it. Here was an example of sustained enthusiasm: Richard Simmons.

Yes, there he was in his shiny top and shorts, making people uncomfortable with boundless enthusiasm.

This is where we can learn something. We can learn about not caring what other people think when we are in our enthusiastic state. We can learn about the joy it brings to some people even if others don’t like it. And we can learn that enthusiasm doesn’t have to fade.

And I got my enthusiasm for this lesson back, because I rediscovered my passion for helping people find joy and share it.

Homework #2: Choose to Enthuse

Experiment with enthusiasm. (1) Mimic the people on your list for Homework #1. How does it feel to move, shout, or smile just like they do? (2) Make a list of things you are passionate about. Choose one thing from your list. What would it mean to be enthusiastic about this thing/idea/activity? How would somebody show it? Write it – or do it! (3) Think of a theme song for one of the passions on your list. Create a slogan for another one. Write a few sentences about how it feels to express joy in this way. Is it enlightening? Awkward? What is your favorite way to express your enthusiasm?

What can we do to support and encourage enthusiasm? Smile. If you can support someone’s passion verbally, socially, or financially, do so. Try not to suck the life out of their enthusiasm with nit-picky criticisms and negative comments.

If you are feeling enthusiasm, cherish and protect it. Try not to let others suck the life out of your enthusiasm with nit-picky criticisms and negative comments.

Remember that your brain has amazing powers to bring enthusiasm to whatever you are passionate about. When you need a lift, just remember to Enter with Enthusiasm.

Bonus #1

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

For Lesson 2 credit, you must either post your Homework and Bonus answers as a comment or send them to me in an e-mail.

Enthusiasm is not the same as just being excited. One gets excited about going on a roller coaster. One becomes enthusiastic about creating and building a roller coaster.
 — Bo Bennett

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2 Responses to Another Word for Joy: Lesson 2 – Enthusiasm

  1. Margot says:

    I have recently found, again, something that makes me feel that lost enthusiasm and I can see it in the group leader. He bounces and makes faces and just about explodes with Joy when we get it right. I hope to look that goofy someday.

    Oh, and username Margot is from another past hobby that I had enthusiasm for so thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Margot says:

    So, the bouncy guy is gone. He left town over the holidays and when I came back everyone knew but me. I’m actually attending this group from outside, but they could all see my distress although I thought I hid it well. Someone contacted him and he sent me a very long personal e-mail apologizing. BUT, I realized that his enthusiasm had gotten me so involved in the group that we are all continuing on fine without him. They all still want me there and it is the one bright spot in my week so I’m glad I can continue…with enthusiasm.
    One more note here: As a former member of a multilevel marketing group, I know that it is important to display enthusiasm, even if you aren’t feeling it. It can help a speaker who is shy to have confidence, or an entire room to slowly build up their excitement. However, when a group is already interested but more laid back, saying over and over again things like, “I can’t hear you” and “One more time” or ” Ok, me and these 3 who shouted out will enjoy this day but I don’t know about the rest of you”, is VERY annoying and will pull from me anything BUT enthusiasm. Just saying.

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