Thursday, July 22, 2010
365 Lessons-Lesson 203: Find Your Enthusiasm
When I was in junior high, I had to take Health. It was required and I was not too enthused about that as I was going through my rebellious teen years. On the first day of class, once everyone was seated, the teacher, Mr. Baerveldt yelled out, "How's your PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)?" We all just sat there, a bunch of preteens staring in emptiness at this man who looked like he might take flight from all his cheerfulness. Some students even rolled their eyes, but Mr. Baerveldt would not give up on us. He let us know that whenever he said this at the beginning of class we were supposed to jump out of our chairs, full of vigor, and yell back, "Boy am I enthusiastic!"
He tried it again and there were a few muffled voices feigning enthusiasm. He tried again. A few more people. Finally, just to get him to stop, we all jumped out of our chairs, fists in the air like Superman, and shouted back in unison, "BOY AM I ENTHUSIASTIC!"
And then we couldn't help but laugh. We all felt a little ridiculous. Day after day, this was how we started our 5th period Health class. I have to say, by the end of it, maybe through osmosis, I did feel enthusiastic.
My goal as a teen was to avoid enthusiasm. I was supposed to be cool. Cool people weren't enthusiastic, they were just "cool." I'm sorry now that I missed out on what a lot of great teachers had to offer because I wasn't in the frame of mind to "receive the teachings" so to speak. However, maybe some of it stuck with me. I can't forget Mr. Baerveldt after all these years and even when I see my best friend Lena and she says, "How's your PMA?" I automatically throw my arms up in the air and shout, "Boy am I enthusiastic!"
I have a book in my library that I think is right up Mr. Baerveldt's alley. It's called Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts. I love this book. And I love that "buts" has a double meaning. Now that's "cool."
Even cooler is when the authors, John Roger and Peter McWilliams, explain where the word enthusiasm comes from:
Enthusiasm comes from the Latin en theos-one with the energy of the Divine.
And they go on to quote famous people who wrote about enthusiasm:
The real secret of success is enthusiasm.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill.
I couldn't agree more. If you are enthusiastic about what you are doing, how can you fail? After all, the Latin speakers of the world believe you are in tune with the Divine; the word "fail" is not in your dictionary.
If you are having trouble finding your enthusiasm, I recommend the exercise my Health teacher had us do way back when. If you say it long enough and loud enough, maybe you'll start to believe it. Maybe it will become your mantra. Maybe a life filled with enthusiasm will become "cool" for you. Maybe it will become your way.
Also published on my blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married.