When I decided to delve into the word “enthusiastic” I had no idea that it had a God connection in its etymology. I love, love, love that the definition of the word speaks to Divine Inspiration. It also means to be “be inspired or possessed by a god, be rapt, be in ecstasy,”
Ecstasy = Enthusiasm! No wonder I love the word!
So then, I go through some of my favorite books, trying to hear what teachers are saying about Enthusiasm and I open a book by Howard Thurman and it falls to the chapter called “Enthusiasm and Self-sacrifice.” Ok, God. Fine. Let’s talk about this.
Grandpa and Sage, Howard Thurman, tells us “In the preface to the first English edition of The Philosophy of Civilization, Albert Schweitzer says that nothing of real value in the world is ever accomplished without enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Literally, the word ‘enthusiasm’ means ‘God-possessed.’”
This God-possession business has me absolutely fascinated. God as Creator, Love and Giver of All-Life connects with us and gives us a supernatural drive towards a valuable goal. But here is the thing: When you look at the definition, it is all about joy and zeal. There is no arduousness in this. We think of ecstasy and we think of pleasure, delight, deep passion.
I love the image of being possessed by God with pleasure and drive to create something of value. Ahhhhhhh…….
I think of the single cell amoeba that always moves towards light, air and food. It is driven to do that. That is an act of enthusiasm. Life is valuable.
I am reminded of an interview with Michael Jackson that I once watched and he talked about how he could not sleep because he had to create and compose. He said something along the lines that if he did not stay up and write and create when he got “the download” that God would give it to Prince! He did not want Prince to get God downloads so he stayed up and worked his God downloads! This was his compulsion, his enthusiasm. This is what possessed him. Wow.
Beloved, what possesses you?
Today, I am especially proud of young people in this country and how they have connected with the fire in their blood. They stood up for their lives. They were enthusiastic about asking us, the adults in their orbit, to help them live. The same struggle for life by the single cell amoeba is the same struggle they articulated throughout this country this week!
They were possessed by the need for change because they experienced tragedy. Sometimes our tragedies wake us up to what enthuses us.
Enthusiasm is what moves us out of passive living into intentional fully-alive living.
- What would make you risk everything just to feel fully alive?
- What is it that you are engaged in that means LIFE to you?
- Where is enthusiasm showing up for you?
If enthusiasm is not showing up in your life, Beloveds, please know, you are living in the land of “less than.” You do not deserve that. You do not need to live there. You are capable of so much more.
If you do not embrace the things that make you feel fully alive (enthusiastic) you live a low frequency life that is barely surviving, and you begin to slowly die and ebb away. You know that feeling: mild depression, chronic anxiety, negative thinking…..blah, blah, blah. Nope. Not here. We don’t do that.
Obviously, enthusiasm relates to positivity in its aliveness component.
Back to Grandpa Thurman – the self-sacrifice part. This speaks to bandwidth. What are you saying “no” to? Is that what you want to say “no” to? He says that Self-sacrifice is the judgment upon an act that is past, a deed that is done. It is a reflection upon a meaning that was not evident in the act itself.” This means that you do not feel that you are sacrificing something when you do it. It is later upon reflection, that you realize, “Wow, I gave up a lot.”
Of course, we have to balance it out with our responsibilities and relaxation. But, the things we want to self-sacrifice are ego, any isms in our lives, dramas, non-nourishing relationships, negativity, time-wasting activities and ideologies and dogmas that keep your soul in a box much too small for the grandness that is you.
So instead of forcing yourself to make a sacrifice of something that is giving you monotonous and mild distraction/pleasure, you look for what lights you up and you get enthusiastic and move towards this life-giving activity. The mindless activities will fall away.
Here is the bottom line:
All that mindlessly scrolling Facebook, replying to every ping on Messenger and my phone, talking to a friend about mindless crap, gossiping, watching mind-numbing TV, means I am saying “yes” to mediocrity and survival and “no” to thriving and aliveness. I look forward to reflecting on my time and seeing where I self-sacrificed such mindlessness.
When I seek out those spaces, people and opportunities that make me ecstatic with joy, (enthusiasm) I am saying “yes” to this temporary, beautiful, mysterious thing called “Life.”
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” – Martha Graham, Modern dancer and choreographer
When you create a vision for your life, business and/or community and tap into that vision on a continuous basis, keeping the momentum up of your vision, you are embracing enthusiasm.
Motivation + Inspiration
I believe enthusiasm is the result of motivation and inspiration. Inspiration is defined as “Divine guidance to do something” and motivation speaks to one’s willingness to get something done. You can see that you can be inspired to do something but not motivated to do it. When you have inspiration and you have motivation, the result is evidenced in enthusiasm. Enthusiasm always has a product of value. It is not just a feeling. On the other hand is the word “passion.” Passion is all about feelings and it comes and it goes but it makes you excited. Don’t rely on passion. How many people have you been passionately involved with? See? Don’t trust passion. Just enjoy it for the moment. K?
I will never forget in college reading Martin Buber and the I and Thou relationship, meaning the Divine in me sees the Divine in you and I relate to you from that awesomeness. Well basically we enter in enthusiasm because we move out of doing something as a subject, a thing that brings money, fame, etc. and we do it because it allows us to flow from our Divinity and whatever the activity is creates value by creating space for or pointing others towards their Divinity.
“Spiritual knowledge is to know things subject to subject (I-Thou), whereas rational knowing is to know things subject to object (I-it). There is, of course, a place for both; but most people have never been taught how to see in this deeper, nondual way, center to center and subject to subject—and that is the seeing that changes our lives.” – Richard Rohr
Precious Beloveds, my hope is that you discover what it is that you are enthusiastic about, that possesses you, that brings you ecstatic joy. My prayer is that you will be courageous to embrace it and share it with the world. You have so much value that your family, your community and the world awaits for its full expression with bated breath.