Enthusiasm – How It Can Work Magic
“There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” – Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author, best-known for The Power of Positive Thinking (1898-1993)
We’ve all heard the quotes from Norman Vincent Peale, mostly because of his prominence as a minister, but also because of the fact that he was a best-selling author. Who wouldn’t want to be influenced by the so-called power of positive thinking? Doesn’t every living human being want to experience all the best that life has to offer, provided that we live in a God-fearing or at least compassionate-to-all-humanity manner?
But when we get right down to analyzing the wisdom behind the words, there’s a lot to dissect, to chew on, to ponder, and to see what just may be possible. Who among us doesn’t light up when we see the joyful enthusiasm of someone who’s clearly in love with life, with a child, a spouse, a pastime, a profession or a giving back to society? When we see someone who is active with every fiber of their being doing what they love, that enthusiasm cannot help but be contagious.
Well, it can be contagious if we allow ourselves to be moved by it. Sometimes, though, we may find ourselves so caught up in our own turmoil and pain, so wrapped up in our own centricity that we simply can’t get past it. We miss out on so many joyful things in life this way. The really sad part is that we’re mostly unaware of it. We may feel as though there’s something missing from our lives, but we really can’t seem to put our finger on just what it is.
Let’s get back to the magic in enthusiasm, since that’s the subject of this reflection. How do we find the magic? How do we jumpstart our enthusiasm? Is there some simple remedy for creating enthusiasm when we feel like we don’t have any? What if we’ve been so accustomed to feeling numb or deadened to life, largely as a result of our addiction, that we don’t know if enthusiasm is even possible for us?
The good news is that there’s no time limit on enthusiasm. There’s also no reason that anyone cannot find this spark within themselves. Sure, it’s going to take work. And it’s certainly not a given, by any means. But little by little, each of us can do our part to foster a spirit of hopefulness and joy within, and that will lead to some level of enthusiasm upon which we can build.
For that is just what can happen when we enthusiastically approach a task or project, an assignment or goal. When we give it our complete attention and devote the time required to get it done, we are motivated to keep on going, even in the face of temporary set-backs or the need to obtain more information, to work things out in stages, to wait for time to pass, and so on. When we are enthused, we don’t see the drawbacks or limitations, per se. We may recognize that there are some, but we don’t allow them to deter us.
Getting to the end of a task, realizing a goal, succeeding in accomplishing what we set out to do requires persistence and determination. Some of us give up just shy of realizing our goal. If we could tap into some wellspring of enthusiasm, just at the point of quitting, perhaps we could be inspired enough to continue on our course. That, of course, spells the difference between just going through the motions and giving up because we’re not really committed, or achieving what we set out to do, because we’re going to keep on going no matter what.
Enthusiasm is certainly not a guarantee of success. There are plenty of situations where we might find ourselves completely ready to go and then something happens to dampen our resolve, to chip away at our motivation, and quell our enthusiasm. Sometimes, this may be for our own good, since we might be enthusiastic about things that we’re not yet ready for. But other times, it may be that we haven’t completely committed to the goal to begin with. Perhaps a re-examination of our goals is in order.
Now, let’s look at what we consider to be magic. In recovery, most old-timers will tell you that there’s no such thing as magic. You get where you want to be as a result of the hard work you put into achieving your goals. There’s certainly no disputing that we will achieve success only by doing the work ourselves. No one else can do it for us. If they did, it would be their accomplishment, not ours. But that doesn’t mean that a lot of what happens in our own recovery isn’t somehow some sort of a miracle. After all, isn’t is something of a miracle that we’re even here today, clean and sober – for perhaps the first time in many years – and alive to live in recovery?
Not to put too much emphasis on enthusiasm as it relates to miracles, but isn’t it fair to say that life worth living is worth living well? In other words, given a choice, wouldn’t we rather live life with joy and enthusiasm in sobriety as compared to just living to survive in recovery?
Find the joy in what we do. Experience it fully. Be enthusiastic in our approach to everything we do. We will find that what life offers us is a great gift of limitless possibilities, any one of which we can grasp and make our own.