Enthusiasm – the God within | Sunday Observer

Enthusiasm – the God within

8 May, 2022

Nothing is contagious as enthusiasm; it moves stones, it charms brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it. - Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton

Enthusiasm is a strong feeling of interest and enjoyment about something and an eagerness to be involved in it. A new-born baby cries whenever it feels uncomfortable. It never shows signs of boredom. Young children look at the world full of enthusiasm.

They find the world as a marvellous place to live in. They see birds flying, hear the sound of crickets and enjoy the soft breeze. However, somewhere en route to adulthood they tend to lose their enthusiasm, not because they have grown wise and sad, but because they have misconceived enthusiasm to be something callow.

As a result most adults have no enthusiasm to learn a new language or try out novel ways of living. This does not mean that they should have a puppy-dog eagerness for every new smell and sound and blade of grass. Instead, grown-up people are shaped by experience, judgment and humour. They are impatient to see the results of their endeavours. Any negative result will dampen their enthusiasm.

The word ‘enthusiasm’ comes from ‘entheos’ – the god within – and means basically to be inspired or possessed by the god, or by God. It is an open secret like sunlight that gives us joy and purpose to all our days on the planet. Learning is the root of enthusiasm. Learning is not confined to knowing something new. It also means that we should admit that there are so many subjects we know nothing about.

Public speaking

In the good old days we did not know anything about public speaking or Toastmasters Club. A boy in our class suggested that we should learn the art of addressing meetings. He was apparently enthusiastic about public speaking. So we organized an English Speaking Club and held many debates on various subjects.

One student who had been reading magazines coming from the Soviet Union delivered a speech on communism. He opened his speech with the words, “I am proud to be a communist.” Such is the power of enthusiasm.

A small-time businessman in our village who was in his mid-60s took his maiden plane trip from Ratmalana Airport. For about an hour he was miserably uneasy. In fact he wanted to cancel the trip and go home. However, he finally realized the joy of flying. He was afraid of not knowing how to behave on a plane. After he got over the hurdle, he learned some fascinating details about planes. Thereafter, he became a regular visitor to several countries.

Although we may have enthusiasm in abundance, some of us do not know how to sustain it. Instead of using enthusiasm as a tool, use it as a joyful activity. When you go along the road or a pavement, you come across various types of people. Some of them may be interesting and others may be dull pedestrians. If you see a vendor of multicolour balloons, you will pause for a moment and stare at him.

You will remember your own childhood and how you cried asking for a balloon. Although the balloon seller cannot earn a big sum of money at the end of the day, he is enthusiastic about his business.


Early one morning I walked down a busy street in a suburban city with a plumber carrying his box of tools. Suddenly he stopped and said, “I hear a cricket.” I only heard the blaring of horns and the sound of fast moving vehicles. For a moment I wondered how he heard a cricket amid such noises. Then we hunted for the cricket and finally found it scraping its legs at the edge of a grating. The cricket went on making sounds and the incident taught me a lesson. Enthusiasm is partly willing attention. That is why children run after butterflies and watch how snails move with wonder.

If you are enthusiastic about something, it creates a purpose without which there is no lasting delight. You cannot be enthusiastic and aimless. Enthusiasm creates and supports an aim. When I travel to a foreign country or new city or village, I often enjoy it fully. On such occasions I do not feel like leaving that place. I touch a deeper pulse of that place and I want to know it better.

Sometimes when purpose fails and fundamental enthusiasm quits, we lose our zest for living. Such a dulling of the radiance can come about abruptly as a result of a crisis in life or from the abrasion of daily living. How would you feel if you lost your job? Most of us will feel miserable and helpless on such occasions.

On the other hand, when you are about to retire from work you realize that you have not achieved anything worthwhile. The temptation is to give up everything. However, this is the moment for you to summon your courage and hang on. Although the human mind is somewhat lazy to act on such occasions, be aware that there is a tough sinew which is capable of creating enthusiasm.

Exhilarating woman

One of the most exhilarating women I knew was hit by a series of blows. She lost her job and her husband filed for divorce. Her only son was attending a private school. She did not give up hopes. Fired with enthusiasm she started doing many part-time jobs and helped her son to complete his education. She said, “I found myself with a new heart and a new enthusiasm every day.”

There is no magic formula for a happy life. Happiness comes from a willingness to find your own way. That willingness is nothing but enthusiasm. Whatever astrologers say about planetary positions in your horoscope, we have to bow down to circumstances. Whatever you do, you will find some hazards to face. You will find it difficult to change them.

If you fail to succeed in life, the main reason is lack of enthusiasm. There was an English teacher who used to learn the language from various teachers at different times. However, even when he retired from service he had not mastered the niceties of the language. He confessed that he never consulted a dictionary or wrote an essay. If he had the enthusiasm to learn English, he could have been a good teacher or a writer. Such people often ask, “How can I generate enthusiasm?”

Be a child

The simple answer to that question is, “Be a child again.” When you become a child you will be full of enthusiasm. People fired by enthusiasm try many ways to succeed in life. Sometimes they follow the wrong path. If you try to follow the right path, you become a robot. Robots are never creative, they are repetitive. You have to decide early in life whether to become a robot or a creative person.

Enthusiastic people put their prestige, pride or respectability at stake again and again. Others may get the impression that they are crazy people. However, such people get recognition and fame. Like Socrates, if you can say, “I know only one thing, that I know nothing” that is the beginning of your journey in life. If you think you know everything, you have no enthusiasm to learn. Those who are enthusiastic know that they know nothing and try to learn something.

Finally, if you are enthusiastic about dancing, do not go and see a dance. Learn how to dance and be a dancer!

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