My son and I recently read one of the Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne: “Soccer on Sunday,” which was a big draw for my soccer-loving boy. The brother-and-sister duo featured in the book went back in time to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, featuring phenom, Pelé, to learn one of the four secrets to greatness.
The entire book, I’m thinking, “Duh, this is so obvious. It’s got to be teamwork. Team sport, great athlete can’t do it alone, blah blah, count on others and remember you’re not better than anyone else, blah, blah.” The secret is revealed in a quote from Pelé, who said, “Enthusiasm is everything.”
Enthusiasm. Huh. Hadn’t seen that coming. Not at all. (Sidebar: We hadn’t read them, but other adventures had already revealed the first three: meaning and purpose, hard work, and humility—which would have covered teamwork. Should’ve read them in order!)
The more I thought about it though, the more it made sense. Enthusiasm is passion. It’s loving and living in the moment. It’s tackling and embracing life with gusto. Yes! Enthusiasm is what makes kids live their lives to the fullest. Enthusiasm is being grateful for the opportunities we are given, the moment we are in, the food in front of us, the people we are with, even the daily tasks we must do.
We have a choice in how we approach every situation, activity, chore, new person…everything. We can slog forward with negativity and disappointment, or we can rise forward with enthusiasm and hope. Sure, there’s likely to be hard work and bumps in the road as well. Leave it to a kid’s book to open my eyes to a key to happiness and apparently, greatness. I’ve since been connecting some dots in my own life.
There are so many things I do because I have to or because I always have. What if I discarded the nonessential habits I hate but do out of guilt or familiarity? Trash the this-is-the-way-we-have-always-done-it mentality.
I’ve started cutting out those habits, relieving myself of the dread and pressure of it hanging over my head. I’ve stopped subscribing to magazines. It’s crazy, I know, but I would get magazines in the mail and feel pressured to read them. Even though I enjoyed the content, I felt wasteful and unorganized if the magazines sat around unread. To make myself sound even more insane, after reading the magazines, I had to keep them and go through all the pages I’d dog-eared and tear out the picture of the kitchen I liked, or write down the gift that was perfect for my BFF, or capture the song I HAD to download for my workout playlist. Yep. That was me.
The pile of read magazines would sit around until I documented all of the dog-ears. Only to have that information sit in a notebook, folder, or on Pinterest. All along I was frustrated at the colossal waste of time and effort, but also didn’t want to miss anything. So I cut it out. At the roots. No more magazines. Why was a torturing myself with this process when it brought me more anguish than joy?
I also decided, for the moments and activities I can’t avoid or eliminate, I needed to choose to approach them with more enthusiasm. I had to look at the positive and be excited about whatever silver lining I could find. This was crucial for my own happiness and to model for my children who were increasingly approaching more situations begrudgingly rather than enthusiastically.
I’m emptying the dishwasher with enthusiasm: “I will have a clean kitchen with clean dishes to use later; and I didn’t have to wash these by hand.” My daughter wants to play dolls. Instead of, “NOOOOOOO! Anything but dolls!” I think, “It makes Neve so happy and I get to act like a 5-year-old.” Then I really try to act like I’m five. I play just like she does. She stares at me and giggles a lot, which makes it even better. And, morning times approached with enthusiasm instead of stress and madness, are a whole new world. We are looking forward to catching the bus instead of fearing that we will miss it. We are helping each other grab our bags and waters instead of thinking only about ourselves. We have (groggy) happiness instead of fear.
Life and all of its moments are filled with light and possibility when you have enthusiasm. The energy that is inside you and around you is a beacon of hope and progress. That energy fuels you and all of those around you. It propels you to accomplish, to be great, and even more importantly to love the life you are living. To love your choices, your opportunities, and your responsibilities. To look at each action as a chance for something amazing and fulfilling.
Every day I try to listen to one of Oprah’s meditations. In it, she quotes Carl Sagan saying,
“We come from the stars…We are made of star stuff.”
Every single time I hear it, I am filled with a burst of joy, confidence, and enthusiasm for life. We are all made of stars. We all have, at our essence, the same dazzling light, love, beauty, and energy. It is up to each of us to determine how we will use those gifts.
Here’s the link to Oprah’s Sunrise Ritual. It is 3 minutes of inspiration. Worth every second. Check it out.