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Enthusiasm - How to Find It

By Stephen Russell-Lacy

How keen are you to get up in the morning and follow your ordinary day?

Have you the enthusiasm needed to do what is fulfilling and good?
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm". (Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher)
With inspiration, and the enthusiasm that goes along with it, we have energy for living life to the full, no matter what obstacles and hardships it throws in our faces.
What can one do to feel enthusiasm for what one does each and every day?

Danger of enthusiasm carrying us away

We may be a naturally generous, kind, or affectionate sort of person. And so become easily swayed and even enthusiastic about giving away money, time or love. But such inbuilt good tendencies can weaken judgement about a situation. Sentiment or fervent emotion may need the protection of good sense before it runs away with itself.

Our thinking may be realistic or unrealistic. Before giving charity to an alcoholic, remember he or she will likely spend gift money on booze rather than on food. Level-headed individuals do not take risks with their money on dodgy investments no matter the enthusiastic promises made by the salesman. One ignores one's insightful thinking when keenly involving oneself with a charming but good-for-nothing partner.

"When a person is under the influence of strong natural emotions, his rational balance can easily be upset, and he may be carried in any direction." (Hugo Lj Odhner, spiritual psychology writer)
Other examples of getting carried away by enthusiasm are spending "too much" time playing video games or engaging in activity supporting some social or political project to the detriment of family life.

"Enthusiasm for a cause sometimes warps judgment." (William Howard Taft, politician)
Fortunately most of us learn some right thinking from parents, teachers, and friends as well as good ideas from books and elsewhere. Good sense protects the mind against unfounded eagerness or fervour of others. Does such good sense also not come from deeper ideas in ethics, spiritual philosophy, and sacred writing?

Problem of lack of enthusiastic focus

Being enthused is being in the zone. A complete absorption for a while in what one does with loss of sense of space and time.

The opposite to this is the mental state in which one lacks enthusiasm. Energised focus is missing. One is under-involved, and there is a lack of enjoyment in the activity.
Time drags when you are not feeling sufficiently enthused about say your studies, work, or home developments. This lack of keenness can be due to not appreciating the end product, not feeling the spirit behind a project, not being open to the source of its inspiration.

"It is not easy to find something that will intrigue and bind your interest and enthusiasm. This you must seek for yourself." (Walter Annenberg, publisher, philanthropist, and diplomat)

A lack of enthusiastic effort may also apply to spiritual practice. We may remember the effects of meditation, learn the value of mindfulness practice, understand about the application of ethical theory, or know about philosophical ideas. Something may be missing. I would compare true ideas in the understanding with a receptive cup. Do we not need to distinguish between the cup and a limitless source of refreshing liquid which fills it?
According to one view, experience and knowledge about deeper concepts is a vessel into which the rich wine of the infinite spirit can flow.


There have been good ideas around in contemporary spirituality. Concepts such as the true-self, the new age, one's inner path, or the numinous. Wonderful though many have thought these ideas to be, can they in any way be a substitute for the source of inspiration behind them? Perhaps you put your hope and trust in a higher life force beyond us seen as the source of energy behind the universe? In line with this view, a powerful spirit of illumination and vitality flows into a person through his or her soul. In other words those interested in spirituality sometimes confuse their understanding of ideas with the infinite source that can enliven their framework of conceptual thinking.

Transcendent source of inspiration

According to the spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, a powerful source of universal love and wisdom provides higher inspiration. He says this is the transcendent origin of all that is humane in humanity. It both enlightens and energises our thinking about what is useful and important. Without this divine energy we have no enthusiasm.

The infinite source of heat of love and light of wisdom can be compared with the heat and light of our natural sun.

"The sun of our world cannot use its warmth and light to bring forth sprouts in the earth directly. Rather, the sun uses substances in the soil in which it can be present through its warmth and light to make plants grow." (Emanuel Swedenborg, spiritual philosopher)

I would like to suggest that the substance in the soil of the mind are those ideas we have about living a useful life. So, without a ground of rational ideas and understanding, we cannot receive inspiration. At the same time, there is a similar argument. This is that no amount, of such ideas and understanding of themselves, will give us energy and enthusiasm. Do we also not need a willingness to receive divine inflow of love and wisdom? And to acknowledge it comes from outside of ourselves from a higher source?

As a clinical psychologist, Stephen Russell-Lacy has specialised in cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy, working for many years with adults suffering distress and disturbance.
He edits Spiritual Questions a free eZine that explores links between spiritual philosophy and the comments and questions of spiritual seekers. You can share your views and find out more about feeling good, personal well-being & spiritual healing
His eBook Heart, Head and Hands draws links between the psycho-spiritual teachings of the eighteenth century spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg and current ideas in therapy and psychology.

Hi! I research topics such as self-development achievement and mental health. I have a passion to use my life experiences and research to help others reach their full potential.