Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. –Winston Churchill
Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch - Ivern Ball
In stren #48, I identified two words that identify a major source of the powerful energy we require to reach our goals – chronic enthusiasm. Today, let’s consider the source of chronic enthusiasm to insure that we have it in abundance throughout our lifetime.
Role models are a prominent source for learning chronic enthusiasm. Some of us have been fortunate to have parents and mentors who demonstrate chronic enthusiasm, and impart goals that contribute to our well-being and that of our global community. But what if you are one of the unfortunates whose models were lacking in enthusiasm; or worse, exemplified its opposite, hopelessness/helplessness? Perhaps they demonstrated other patterns, such as blaming and avoidance, which often result in the H/H outcome? Individuals stuck in the negative mental action patterns are prone to become human cancers; they take, give back little, and create a world we don’t desire. What alternatives are there when fate and circumstance are unkind? We know the common sense answer: As we mature from helpless, dependent crybabies, we are wise to recognize that we have all that we need to assume responsibility for our personal destiny. The means to acquire a newer way of thinking that empowers us to take charge of our life’s experience is ours for the making.
We act wisely when we build on our enthusiasms and elevate them to our level of maturity. As children, we are enthusiastic about toys, games, sweets, magic, winning, approval, and the like. Later we recognize the joy of freedom, enlightenment, sex, love, knowledge, the arts, and giving to others. Too often our society role models compulsive enthusiasm about our appearance, and greed for money and other symbols of power and physical wealth. They are commonly pursued in a self-serving way without regard for others. We neglect cultivating enthusiasms which have no limit and add to our own well-being, as well as that of our loved ones and humanity.
How do we create the chronic enthusiasm that maintains our youthful vigor throughout our lifetime? The secret of chronic enthusiasm is wisely directing our thinking to the two consistently productive action choices available to our will power – the magical problem-solving sentence and self-endorsement. Self-endorsement is the source of energy we create to offer love to our self and to others. The problem-solving sentence guides us to apply common sense solutions to win-win outcomes for both the present and the future. Once these basics are established, we can equip ourselves with an abundant flow of energy to invest in life’s enthusiasms. The choices available for us are ubiquitous and without limit. No one needs to be deprived of life’s enthusiasms except by their own lack of effort.
By adding common sense wisdoms to chronic enthusiasm, we create short and long term goals that benefit our self, our loved ones, AND our world neighbors. We can learn from the wisdoms others gladly provide, many of which allow us to benefit from their mistakes rather than pay a price for our own poor judgment. I especially urge you to review The Reasonable Best Measure of Self-worth described in strens #23-24. It substitutes an input measure of self-worth that is always within our control for the common output measure of self-worth that we each acquire early during the immature dependency phase of our life when we are incapable of personal responsibility. Self-worth and chronic enthusiasm are closely linked together.
Now I offer a special bonus, the wisdoms of a recognized world expert on the topic of enthusiasm – David Starr Jordan, first President of Stanford University. Here are excerpts from his 1906 book, Life’s Enthusiasms1 and other books.
And my message in its fashion shall be an appeal to enthusiasm in things of life, a call to do things because we love them, to love things because we do them, to keep the eyes open, the heart warm and the pulses swift, as we move across the field of life. Let “the bit of green sod under your feet be the sweetest to you in this world, in any world.” ... let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us. And everything is worth our while, if we only grasp it and its significance. As we grow older it becomes harder to do this. A grown man sees nothing he was not ready to see in his youth. So long as enthusiasm lasts, so long is youth still with us. “To take the old world by the hand and frolic with it;” this is Stevenson's recipe for joyousness. Old as the world is, let it be always new to us as we are new to it. Let it be every morning made afresh by Him who “instantly and constantly reneweth the work of creation.”
Regarding teachers: Plodding and prodding is not the teacher’s work. It is inspiration, on-leading, the flashing of enthusiasms. A teacher in any field should be one who has chosen his work because he loves it, who makes no repine because he takes with it the vow of poverty, who finds his reward in the joy of knowing and in the joy of making known.
The poorest use of time is to kill it. This is the weakest and most cowardly form of suicide. Moreover it is never quite successful.
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.
In the arts of music and painting and sculpture, one may find not only professional satisfaction, but the strength that comes from higher living and more lofty feeling. In the study of history as biography, the acquaintance with the men and women of other times, those who have felt and thought and acted and suffered to make a freer world for you and me, like inspiration may be found. History is more than its incidents. It is the movement of man. The picturesque individual, the man who could not be counted with the mass, give inspiration to history. He names such individuals as David, Christ, Caesar, Plato, Cromwell, Darwin, Goethe, Franklin, and Lincoln, among others. It is well that we should know them, should know them all, [and] should know them well....
... action should be understood in a large way, the taking of one’s part in affairs worth doing, not mere activity, nor fussiness, nor movement for movement’s sake, like that of “ants on whom pepper is sprinkled.” As the lesser enthusiasms fade and fail, one should take a stronger hold on the higher ones. “Grizzling hair the brain doth clear” and one sees in better perspective the things that need doing.
1Copyright 1906 by the American Unitarian Association: printed by the Heintzmann Press, Boston
Jordan noted that there are masters in the art of living as well as in other arts and sciences. ANWOT is our means to make ourselves masters in the art of living. Jordan believed that “the final end of education is not learning or official position, but service to humanity.” The greatest service he could envision was the promotion of peace and the elimination of war. Do you agree with him?
For more information on David Starr Jordan, click here. [this refers only to the video version]
Here is additional information on David Starr Jordan:
David Starr Jordan served as chief director, 1909-11, of the World Peace foundation, and dean of the American section of the World Peace Congress at The Hague, 1913. In 1925 he won the Herman Peace Prize for the best educational plan for preserving world peace. Jordan’s books include World Peace and the College Man, 1916; Ways to Lasting Peace, 1916; and The Outlawry of War, 1927.
One of David Starr Jordan’s enthusiasms was religion. For him, true religion was “individual, not collective,” and “concerned with life, not with creeds or ceremonies.” Below are more of Jordan’s thoughts on religion.
“true religion concerns our relation to each other and to unseen and unmeasured powers surrounding us.”
“... when organizations in the name of religion strive to resist the progress of knowledge and to punish or ostracize men and women who think for themselves and by the truth are made free, their influence is evil.”
“...much that we have called religion is merely the debris of our grandfather's science.”
Jordan believed that “...those who control the spiritual thought of the Twentieth Century will be religious men,” and that the religious expression of the new century would “deal with the world as it is in the service of ‘the God of things that are.’” He was fond of saying that wisdom “consists in knowing what to do next, virtue in doing it”; and that religion “should provide a reason why.” “Intolerance is unscientific,” he wrote in 1883. “So is it unchristian.” For him, true religion was “individual, not collective,” and “concerned with life, not with creeds or ceremonies.” He was uncomfortable with organized religion, claiming that the “machinery of worship is mistaken for its essence”.
For Jordan, the essential feature of religion is dedication to the highest purposes. Religion should be known by its tolerance, its broadmindedness, its faith in God and humanity, its recognition of the duty of action. The following poem illustrates Jordan’s belief in the resilience of humankind:
"Out of the night that covers me, Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Black as the pit from pole to pole, Looms but the Horror of the shade,
I thank whatever gods may be And yet the menace of the years
For my unconquerable soul. Finds and shall find me unafraid.
In the fell clutch of circumstance It matters not how straight the gate,
I have not winced nor cried aloud How charged with punishments the scroll,
Under the bludgeonings of chance, I am the master of my fate,
My head is bloody but not bowed. I am the captain of my soul!"