Merriam-Webster dictionary describes enthusiasm as:

1a – “strong excitement of feeling,

1b – “something inspiring zeal or fervor.

2a – “belief in special revelations of the Holy Spirit,”

2b – “religious fanaticism.”

In other words, enthusiasm is having intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval in something or some cause. We see this demonstrated by the crowd at a college football game, support for a politician, a praise and worship team, etc.

Psychologists tell us that enthusiasm is one of the 24 strengths possessed by humanity. As a component of the virtue of courage, enthusiasm is defined as living life with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and energy.

Elaine Dundon, leader of the Meaning Movement, says that enthusiasm is about expressing our spirit, both individually and collectively. However, faking enthusiasm to please others can be a dangerous trap. As such, genuine enthusiasm is an expression of our true selves.

She says that a meaningful life depends on inner serenity, self-honesty, and engaging with the world with genuine enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is defined as strong excitement or a strong feeling of interest in something we like or enjoy. The word originated from two Greek words, en (meaning in) and theos (meaning God), and has evolved to mean “manifesting the spirit within.”

Rijn Vogelaar, research scientist and author of the Dynamics of Enthusiasm, writes that Scientific research into enthusiasm is hard to find. Positive psychology does pay attention to related themes such as flow and engagement, but enthusiasm still appears to be virgin territory in the academic world. He proposes the following definition of enthusiasm: “Enthusiasm is the positive excitement experienced when a person is affected by something or someone. It also creates a need to share and has a contagious effect on other people.” Enthusiasm, therefore, manifests itself explicitly at that moment and can also be observed in physical terms. There is alertness, an eagerness, a twinkle in the eye. It’s as if something is awakening.

The tendency to share enthusiasm is also striking, notes Vogelaar, which is very noticeable in children. If they have seen something that excites them, they are itching to share it. Adults who come home enthusiastic also feel this need. It even feels frustrating when no one is at home at that moment. On social media, it’s easy to see how strong the need is to share the enthusiasm. In fact, people share more positive messages online than negative ones. The final characteristic of enthusiasm, contained in the definition, is its contagious nature. Like positive and negative emotions, enthusiasm is infectious. An enthusiastic colleague can set the mood, and waves of enthusiasm can sweep through a crowd.

Psychologist Valeria Sabater offers seven tips to help awaken one’s enthusiasm. In addition, she lists simple mechanisms that allow us to rekindle our enthusiasm. Arousing our enthusiasm improves our well-being. In fact, if there’s one thing that’s magical about this emotion, it’s contagious. It’s like a light in the darkness that guides and inspires you. Indeed, so much so that the character strengths that most correlate with happiness are enthusiasm, curiosity, and hope.

So, first of all, get out of yourself; it’s time to explore other territories. Secondly, relax, and stop living in survival mode. Third, determine what you are passionate about. Fourth, align your values with your belief system and behaviors. Fifth, stay away from those who discourage you. Sixth, go beyond the apparent and ordinary in order to develop broader visions and deeper insights to spark your enthusiasm. And seventh, enthusiasm is an attitude; choose it every day.

And finally, Psychologist Hendrie Weisinger states that in today’s demanding work world, the pressure for doing more with less has become part of many organizational cultures. People are, in fact, working long hours and are often asked to take responsibility for tasks that go beyond their job description. Of course, we all know that more stress at work takes its toll mentally; but it also taxes us physically, and we end the day feeling exhausted.

Weisinger then goes on to tell us how we can learn how to create enthusiasm for the moment and throughout the day, but you need to know the nature of enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is an affective state. How do you feel when you are enthusiastic? Energized or excited is the standard response. Enthusiasm is a state of heightened arousal. Breathing rate, and heart rate, for example, are accelerated. Positive thoughts accompany enthusiasm. “I did it!” or “I love this!” are common enthusiastic thoughts. Enthusiasm is a behavior. Enthusiasm stimulates movement in the arms or legs, face, or eyes. Enthusiastic responses are universal across cultures. A smile, clapping – these are hardwired into us, so a crowd in Brazil cheers when their soccer team wins, just like American college students do when their basketball team wins.

Since we’ve learned that the origin of the word enthusiasm is “in God.” what does the Bible say about enthusiasm? First, the Apostle Paul told the Roman believers never to be lazy but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[1] Then Paul reminded the Corinthians that when it comes to giving or volunteering, each person must decide in their heart how much to offer. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives with enthusiasm.”[2]

The Apostle also encouraged the Ephesians to work with enthusiasm, as though they were working for the Lord rather than for people.[3] And for the believers in Thessalonica, Paul’s message was always to be enthusiastic. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in the Anointed One, Jesus.[4]

But perhaps nothing sounds more exciting and enthusiastic than David’s Psalm, where he says, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary! Praise Him in heaven, His strong fortress! Praise Him for the great things He does! Praise Him for all His greatness! Praise Him with trumpets and horns! Praise Him with harps and guitars! Praise Him with tambourines and dancing! Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals! Praise Him with crashing cymbals! Everything that breathes, praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” And do it with enthusiasm.

[1] Romans 12:11 – New Living Translation

[2] 2 Corinthians 9:7

[3] Ephesians 6:7 – New Living Translation; cf. Colossians 3:23

[4] 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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