Welcome to stren #48. In today’s wisdom tip, you will learn the two powerful words that when joined together turn on and sustain the energy we require to reach the goals we seek. Chronic enthusiasm is the most common, basic ingredient to success in any endeavor. Chronic means sustained, of long duration, continuing, and constant; it is derived from the Greek word khronos meaning time. Enthusiasm means excitement, rapturous interest, fondness, zeal, activity that inspires interest, and passion, as derived from the Greek word enthousiasmos meaning inspire.
In stren #41 I identified the hopeless/helpless (H/H) response as one of the most devastating behavior choices available to our will. The H/H response shuts down our energy factory, resulting in “give up” behavior, apathy, depression, and in the very extreme suicide. Chronic enthusiasm is the antidote for the H/H response! People who make their life’s experience joyous and meaningful generate chronic enthusiasm. They consistently feel good and do good as their enthusiasm provides continual rewards to sustain multiple interests.
Enthusiasm uplifts ordinary or poor performance to superior output. A successful pep talk is often the ingredient that makes the underdog a winner in a sports contest when the team with greater athletic talent falls short of enthusiasm. Dwight D. Eisenhower told us, “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” Notable leaders, be they a Churchill or a Hitler, irrespective of the merit of their passion, example superior enthusiasm that inspires others to join their cause. I recall a story of a Boy Scout troop nearing the end of their long hike – tired, demoralized, complaining, and in growing disarray. The leader cut off a branch from the nearby trees for each scout and advised them that they now had a trusty steed to ride to the finish line. Branch between their legs, with renewed spirit, they galloped to their end point without further complaint.
What subject we choose is less important than the act of passionately investing in specific enthusiasms. The topics of interest to one individual may have little or no interest for another, and the variety of enthusiasms available for our special focus is endless. For example, during my medical training, my study group was being instructed by a proctologist, a specialist in diseases of the rectum and lower intestine. He was examining a patient using a proctoscope, an instrument inserted in the anus that allows one to see the interior of the large bowel. He suddenly erupted in enthusiasm: “What a beauty; you must see this!” as he called each student to come see the treasure he discovered. The malodorous, puss-filled weeping lesion he found so exciting elicited an “Ugh” from most of us. David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford University, tells us:
Bad poetry is not poetry at all except to the man who makes it. For its creator, even the feeblest verse speaks something of inspiration and of aspiration.1
1Life’s Enthusiasms, David Starr Jordan, 1906
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