I include among my own chief enthusiasms the search for wisdom and enlightenment and the joy of sharing this with others; love of family and humanity; acquiring skill in making music on my electric organ, even if done poorly; and appreciating nature’s creation of beautiful wood, minerals, and flowers. I am especially uplifted as I admire the creativity of contemporary glass artists who transform the ordinary substance, sand, to create objects that inspire joy and awe. I have been impressed by the wisdom of William James who described beauty as “medicine through our eyes.” I share my enthusiasms merely to point out that our enthusiasms can be selected from those having win-win outcomes. They enrich myself and the world, create harm to no one, and are available in abundance without limit. Goals that have limited quantity, most evident in physical wants that are sought with greed beyond need, such as money and power, often become a problem. Human ingenuity is capable of providing our population’s needs, but not when our way of thinking demands that we engage in harmful win/lose competition without consideration for our neighbors. The newer common sense way of thinking creates out of the box solutions using wisdom; it is our means to make our lives safe and joyous. Our mission to survive is making common sense common through collaboration and chronic enthusiasm.
It is easy to recognize individuals lacking in enthusiasm. They commonly engage in the negative mental action patterns such blaming others and/or themselves, and avoidance, which then leads to the helpless/hopeless response. They show apathy, depression, physical maladies of every kind and, in the extreme, are prone to physical aggression including suicide and homicide.
In my consultation to nursing homes, I observed a common syndrome of apathy and depression described by a colleague years ago. He called it todes erwachen, “waiting for death.” These individuals ran out of enthusiasm. On the other extreme I recall an elderly gent in a wheelchair who regularly greeted me full of enthusiasm: “Hello, doc. How are you? Anything I can do for you today?” David Starr Jordan offered this wisdom in his book, Life’s Enthusiasms: Acquire multiple interests in our youth, when we are most able, as we have greater difficulty in our last years when we must confront our demise. I recommend his advice that we enthusiastically stuff our closets with multiple interests, even those where we know we are unlikely to complete, to insure we will have an abundance of the youthful energy that makes our life’s experience joyous.
The power of chronic enthusiasm is a skill that can be easily taught and readily learned. Our society currently teaches us to enthusiastically pursue physical wealth and pamper our body. We can no longer neglect to educate ourselves in the more appropriate wisdoms that create mental wealth. They are available in unlimited abundance to sustain our vigor throughout our lifetime. In the next stren, I want to consider the means by which we assume responsibility to create enthusiasms that enable us to make our entire life’s experience joyous and meaningful.
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