In Praise of Enthusiasm

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Webster defines enthusiasm as an intense excitement of feeling or something that inspires zeal or fervour. It evokes a powerful excitement or a deep interest in something we truly enjoy. The word “enthusiasm” has a solid etymological connection with the Greek language. It is derived from “en” (meaning “in”) and “theos” (meaning “God”), which conveys the idea of exuding the spirit within. Thus, we speak of religious “enthusiasm.”

Our enthusiasm is expressed through our voice, gestures, facial expressions, words and actions. It can be revealed in a simple smile or a frown, standing or slouching, kindness towards others, or keeping a distance.

Enthusiasm is the power source for our curiosity, igniting a fire within our soul when we engage with something new. It is a self-renewing force – the more you feel it, the more you’re compelled to express it. As Henry David Thoreau described it, enthusiasm is “a supernatural serenity.” Simply put, the feeling makes you want to high-five all day.
Various events and occasions occur throughout the year that reignite our excitement. During Christmas, the well-known melody of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” signifies the beginning of the holiday season. Similarly, in autumn, we all indulge in pumpkin spice lattes, and in Thailand, the excitement peaks during the Songkran Festival, where water is playfully thrown around.

A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, which is widely considered one of the most beautiful ultra marathons in the world. As I ran across the challenging terrain around Chapman’s Peak, I felt completely exhausted and my legs were pulsing with pain. However, despite the physical strain, the stunning scenery around me was a constant source of inspiration. It served as a powerful reminder of just how fortunate I was to be able to participate in such an extraordinary experience.

Despite the passage of time, my passion for running never diminished. I find immense joy in my morning runs along Hua Hin Beach, where the breathtaking sunrises never fail to take my breath away.

Reflecting on my writing over the past few years, I have observed that I have transformed as a writer. My passion for writing, however, remains steadfast and has only grown stronger over time.

Additionally, I hold an unwavering enthusiasm for coffee; whether it is the morning brew or a midday cup, the experience never ceases to amaze me.

Recently, I received an email from an old travel buddy, accompanied by a short note and a picture of us in front of a temple in Kathmandu. The note read, “Look how awesome we were!”. It made me smile, a gentle reminder of the incredible experiences we shared and the extraordinary places we had the privilege to explore. The brief missive re-kindled my enthusiasm for travel and the joys when on the road.

Let me tell you about Stella, a dog I came across online. During the fall season, Stella’s owner takes her to the park, where a pile of leaves awaits her. Stella’s excitement when she jumps out of the car and dives into the leaves is genuinely infectious. Although it’s a routine activity, Stella approaches it with a never-ending enthusiasm. Watching Stella’s videos, which capture her simple joy, never fails to make me smile.

Stella exemplifies that it’s not just what we do in life that matters but how we do it. We become receptive to new connections, thoughts, and ideas when inspired. What if we approached everything with exclamation marks and superlatives as we enter this year? A simple email today could make a friend smile, or you could leave the barista at your local coffee shop laughing. Your kind or funny words might rekindle someone else’s enthusiasm.

In a speech delivered to students at the University of Wisconsin in 2003, Kurt Vonnegut encouraged them to cherish small moments of happiness. He told how, as a young boy, he and his uncle would sip lemonade on a hot summer day in Indianapolis. His uncle would turn to him and say, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Vonnegut’s point is that life is full of small, remarkable things such as sunsets, sunrises, stars, friends, food, dogs, songs, running, jokes, and smiles. Or sipping lemonade with an uncle. The list goes on. We should take stock and be grateful for life’s simple pleasures and enthusiasms.

Enthusiasm is the universal key to joy, requiring no justification or defense.

So often, it is the small actions that bring joy and inspire enthusiasm for life.

Let’s hope that we all find the same joy in simple things like Stella finds in leaves or Kurt Vonnegut’s uncle found in sharing lemonade with his nephew on a hot summer day.

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