The Art of Enthusiasm

Variety is not the spice of life … enthusiasm is.

Grenville Kleiser once wrote a story about the devil who was going out of business. So he put all his tools up for sale — all priced quite high. But the highest price tag was placed on depression.

When asked why that was the case, the devil replied, “With depression I can get to the center of a man. I can disrupt his thoughts and rob him of energy and vitality. I can do anything I like with him.”

I’m afraid that’s all too true. Too many people have been robbed of the energy and vitality they need. I suppose that’s why I’ve been asked, hundreds of times, how I do it.

My friends tell me, and my clients tell me, that I’ve got more energy than almost anyone they’ve ever met. And it’s true. I don’t get tired very easily. I don’t get jet lag. And I’m as excited about speaking and delivering a program today as I was 20 years and 2000 programs ago.

So you’re wondering how I do it. Simple. I practice the art of enthusiasm — and so can you.

William Cowper, the English poet, wrote that famous phrase that “variety is the spice of life.” I disagree. If Cowper had been right, he might not have been locked up for insanity on three different occasions.

I believe enthusiasm is the spice of life. Charles A. Schwab, who worked himself up from the bottom to the presidency of the U.S. Steel Corporation, once remarked, “A person can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.”

From enthusiasm flows the zest and joy of life, and anyone can have it — if they practice eight little steps available on my CD, “ATTITUDE: The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude.”

To pump up your enthusiasm, you’ve got to PUT SOMETHING IN. You’ve got to make sure your intake of energy is greater than your output.

You’re like a bank. If you don’t put money in, you can’t take money out. And if you try to take out more than you put in, you’ll be arrested. Likewise, if you keep drawing on your physical, emotional, and spiritual energy without restoring it, your enthusiasm is bound to go down.

Years ago, David Starr Jordan, the president of Stanford University, said the only way to make good coffee was to “put some in.” And that was the same advice he gave on life. Dr. Jordan would thump his desk and tell his students, “Put some in. Whatever you attempt, go at it with spirit. Put some in!”

One of the ways you “put some in” is to ACT WITH ABANDON. In other words, don’t wait until you feel enthusiastic. Just act with enthusiasm — and then you’ll feel enthusiastic.

Unfortunately, we’ve been fed a lie the last few years. We’ve been told that if we don’t feel like it, we don’t have to do it.

Well that’s nonsense! When people buy into that lie, you end up with children saying, “I don’t want to,” teenagers shouting, “I don’t feel like it,” and employees doing just enough to get by.

If you’re going to be enthusiastic, you may have to forget about your feelings — temporarily. And you may have to focus on your actions. As I often tell my audiences, it’s a lot easier to act your way into a new way of feeling than feel your way into a new way of acting.

I’m not saying your feelings aren’t important. They are. They give you insight and guidance. But they don’t give you enthusiasm.

You have to sometimes act with abandon. That’s what the great football coach Vince Lombardi recommended. He would tell his backs, “This is a game of abandon, and you are to run with abandon. When you get close to the goal, intensify your abandon. Nothing, not a tank, not a wall, not a dozen men are to stop you from getting across that goal line.”

So don’t sit around waiting to be filled with enthusiasm. Don’t wait for your problems to disappear, your marriage to improve, or your boss to leave — before you’re enthusiastic. You may wait forever. Just start acting enthusiastically.

And thirdly, FEED YOUR MIND THE GOOD STUFF. There’s no easier way to pump up your enthusiasm. And it’s so so easy.

You may listen to some motivational music. The theme song to “Rocky” is a good one to get you all charged up. In fact any music that you enjoy and that is fairly high in energy should do the trick.

I know my 6-pack CD album on “Mind Over Matter” will do the trick. My customers are constantly saying that.

You may also listen to motivational recordings. I do all the time. If you came to my office, you would literally see bookcases filled with hundreds of motivational tapes and CD’s. And I listen whenever I can — driving in the car, flying in the plane, whenever and wherever.
I know that if I want my body to perform at the highest possible level, I have to feed it the best possible foods. If I want my mind and spirit to be filled up and overflowing with enthusiasm, I’ve got to put the good stuff in.

And the same is true for you. You can’t expect to be a peak performer if you’re not listening to the right stuff.

You might even ask your boss, spouse, coach, or best friend for a pep talk. Find some people who like you and believe in you, and tell them you need to hear some good stuff. You may need to be reminded of your strengths or encouraged to keep on keeping on once in a while.

Enthusiasm is the spice of life. And you can have it. Try these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a spicier future.

Action:  For the next hour, consciously act and deliberately behave with more energy and more enthusiasm than normal. Forget about your feelings of stress, frustration, or anything negative. Just act with enthusiasm.

On day two, increase your enthusiastic action to two hours. Keep on increasing the amount of time you do this until it becomes habitual and normal all the time.