Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm flips the on switch.
Disney's 199-foot Twilight Zone Tower of Terror loomed before my kids and me. A family trip had brought to the stomach-churning 130-foot drop with bubbling expectations. At a top speed of 39 mph, the drop exceeded 15 times a standard elevator, with the riders feeling 1.2 g's of acceleration. In a synchronicity of life, I finished my instrument flight training and check-ride only weeks before our Orlando visit. 39 mph and 1.2 g's was nothing compared to my flight training regimen.
I had studied the engineering specifications of the Tower of Terror, so my fear of the uncertain or the unknown was transformed by my enthusiasm for the experience. At the time of my ride, Disney had added a camera to capture the thrill rider's expressions. Naturally, my ear-to-ear smile in the subsequent photograph was not shared by my kids nor the other riders, who reasonably appeared more terrorized.
For most of my life, I have attacked my fears and foreboding with normalized trepidation. But I embraced my fear and plowed forward, choosing to be enthusiastic about the unknown. Some might say I had a death wish. Maybe so.
Plato used enthusiasm to describe the divine inspiration of the poet. In ancient Greece, poetry was seen as a supernatural phenomenon. The poet was, as it were, a conduit for the voice of the Gods. The word enthusiasm is derived from Greek: "en" = “inside” + theòs = “God”: so, enthusiasm means having a God inside. As we feel enthusiasm, we can feel almost omnipotent, just like a God. The person who feels enthusiasm is in a state of elation, fervor, and joy: a state quite close to other emotions in the area of pleasure, like vitality, euphoria, and optimism.
Socrates compares enthusiasm to the working of a magnet. It attracts iron objects and passes on the force of attraction, creating a chain of iron objects. Similarly, enthusiasm attracts. In general, we can define enthusiasm as that fire, that charge, that spur that helps us focus all our physical and mental efforts to reach high-value goals.
We can now compare enthusiasm with other emotions or mental states. It is linked to goal achievement and characterized by a high level of arousal. Enthusiasm is also linked to hope and optimism. With hope, we believe our goal will be achieved with great certainty, but this is even higher for enthusiasm; we are almost sure we will succeed.
Additionally, enthusiasm is contagious, even more than anxiety or fear. Seeing or hearing other people’s enthusiasm compels us to feel it. It causes an amplification effect that triggers a loop of more and more enthusiasm.
How do we harness enthusiasm?
1. Follow our bliss. There is no better way to generate enthusiasm than to be engaged in an activity that we enjoy or to do work that we’re passionate about.
2. Think of the things that we want to attain. Here’s a quote from Hill’s “The Law of Success”:
“The home you intend to own, the money you intend to earn and place in the bank, the trip you intend to take when you can afford it, the position in life you intend to fill when you have prepared yourself, and the preparation itself—these are the things that produce happiness.”
Become enthusiastic about these things, regardless of our current situation in life.
3. Have a plan. Creating a plan will inspire us to get up each day and follow through on our project. Driving around without a map or trying to achieve a goal without a plan saps our motivation.
4. Surround ourselves with people who are enthusiastic and optimistic. Befriend people who will encourage us and challenge us to achieve our goals. Enthusiasm is contagious; when we are around people who are passionate about their lives and work, their enthusiasm will rub off on us. We can and do feed off the good vibes of others.
5. Give all of our attention to what we're doing. We can generate significant enthusiasm by giving our full attention to our actions.
6. Get our energy level up. It’s hard to generate enthusiasm when we feel tired. Make sure we have the physical energy to create enthusiasm by getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and getting regular exercise.
7. Use our physiology. If we’re trying to generate enthusiasm, use your body posture and tone of voice when talking about something that fills us with excitement. Move and speak as if we’re enthusiastic, and our emotions soon follow suit.
8. Apply our strengths. Whatever it is that we’re working on, we can become enthusiastic about it by applying our strengths to the project.
In the end, enthusiasm transforms the mundane into the extraordinary and dreams into reality. But most of all, when we are fired up, life is more fun.
Until next time. Travel safe.