“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
Vincent Van Gogh
What do you love? What are you really passionate about? What makes you feel truly exhilarated? Take some time to think about this, because, as Van Gogh says, ‘therein lies the true strength.’ (And please let me know your thoughts.)
Imagine the gusto and the enthusiasm this wonderful artist put into painting the sky below. It positively buzzes with energy, with its complementary zinging colours and its passionate, lively brush-strokes. The stars dance and sparkle, bursting with golden light.
This painting is quite simply exhilarating.
What is Enthusiasm?
The Greeks have given us one of the most beautiful words of our language, the word “enthusiasm” – a God within. The grandeur of the acts of men is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a God within!Louis Pasteur
To really achieve, we need enthusiasm. When we are enthusiastic, we feel stimulated, confident, creative, motivated. It is an exciting, animated feeling, one that can propel us eagerly onwards and upwards.
Enthusiasm is empowering. When we experience it, whatever we may be engaged in, it is obvious to others that we are fully committed to a successful outcome. Coupled with staying power and commitment, enthusiasm carries us through the most difficult times.
It is important to cultivate enthusiasm, as it fires us with energy and boosts our mood. The phrase ‘fired with enthusiasm’ expresses the burning desire to be fully engaged. It is this that makes us feel uplifted.
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life. All that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
Experiencing Childhood Enthusiasm.
Nothing is more beautiful than the enthusiasm of a child. The zest for life, the excitement, the energetic, uninhibited exuberance of a happy child is a joy to witness.
Artists, musicians, scientists have all demonstrated how important is enthusiasm. It can be applied to any area where there is passion, creativity and talent.
So vital is this quality to success and creativity, that several famous people have underlined its crucial role as a driving force.
Here a some quotations from very different disciplines, linked by enthusiasm:
“From the glow of enthusiasm I let the melody escape. I pursue it. Breathless I catch up with it. It flies again; it disappears; it plunges into a chaos of diverse emotions. I catch it again; I seize it; I embrace it with delight.”
“Indeed, there is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted.”
“True enthusiasm is a fine feeling whose flash I admire where-ever I see it. ”“Philosophy becomes poetry, and science imagination, in the enthusiasm of genius.”
Disraeli“The real mathematician is an enthusiast per se. Without enthusiasm, no mathematics.”Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg)“Excuse my enthusiasm or rather madness, for I am really drunk with intellectual vision whenever I take a pencil or graver into my hand.”
The gifted people quoted above have all succeeded in maintaining the power of their childhood enthusiasm, whilst channelling it into adult life and work. Their childhood fantasies and excitement have become transformed into something equally beautiful – and lifelong.
Loss of Enthusiasm
Sadly we often lose our childhood exuberance, or we cannot maintain it in our daily lives. We may produce mediocre work and experience a lack of motivation.
Why is this? Why are people sometimes unenthusiastic, disenchanted, indifferent, apathetic? What has happened to their enthusiasm?
During childhood, everything is new and exciting. As we grow, the novelty often wears off. The aspects of life that excited us become less interesting with repeated exposure. Reality creeps in and the daily routine of work and making money faces us.
We adopt a social front and lose our youthful naivety. We meet disappointment and loss. We become aware of our mortality.
Apathy, indifference, hopelessness, lethargy, passivity- these are all the opposite of enthusiasm. They are also some of the symptoms of depression.
It is also important not to allow others to ‘curb’ or dampen your enthusiasm. However, sometimes this is not easy. It may be that we need help to gain, or regain our enthusiasm.
Such help may be found in different kinds of psychotherapy, or in talking to a trusted friend, life coach or mentor.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
Ageing may bring with it a lessening of motivation. Energy levels usually decline to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the person, and enthusiasm during early and middle age needs energy.
However, the energetic kind of enthusiasm can be replaced by contentment and a quieter kind of enthusiasm. There is also a joy in looking back at past things achieved and seeing the results in the present.
“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
The writer Diana Athill, who died this year, aged 101, was a prime example of someone who kept her enthusiasm right up until the end of her life.
She lived in a care home, with her room arranged to enable her to continue her writing career. She wrote her last book at age 98.
She had a powerful enthusiasm for her life and work, which shows in some of the interviews she has done.
“Dwindling energy is one of the most boring things about being old. From time to time you get a day when it seems to be restored, and you can’t help feeling that you are ‘back to normal’, but it never lasts. You just have to resign yourself to doing less–or rather, taking more breaks than you used to in whatever you are doing.”
However, despite being less energetic physically, Athill retained her enthusiasm for life and writing, right up to the end.
None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
– Henry David Thoreau
Regaining One’s Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is catching. Being with another who is brimming with passion and vitality for an idea, a cause, work, a book or a painting, is an infectious experience. It is helpful to be with people who are enthusiastic.
There are ways we might be able to re-glimpse the zest and fervour for life that many of us had as children. We can focus on feelings of gratitude, appreciating what we do have and developing aspects of ourself and our life in which we might experience joy.
“Colour in a painting is like enthusiasm in life.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh. Irises. Wikimedia Commons.