July 28 – Enthusiasm and Happiness

“All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

I have written several times about the power that a good dose of enthusiasm has in making me more productive and successful. Today, this quote reminds me that it also is a key to happiness as well.

I have sometimes thought that I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). That is the disorder where a person who does not see enough sunlight – as would happen during the winter, or if they had a job with long days and no windows – shows signs of depression. I am sure there is some kind of psychological diagnostic that could prove it one way or another. What I do know is that intensely dislike winter time, and I do feel blue when the skies seem interminably gray.

Although the shortest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere is December 21, I see the effects in myself starting sometime after the Christmas Holidays, and not letting up until sometime around St. Patrick’s day. I have thought about this often, and tried several things to keep the winter blues away. By far, the most effective has been to have a project to do, something to occupy my mind and my time. In short, something to be enthusiastic about.

When I am excited about a project there is little time for me to be blue. I rise with anticipation of getting to work on the project and to produce results. Whether the project is at work or at home, that enthusiasm not only drives me to success, but it alters my mood and outlook. In general, I am happier when I am enthusiastically engaged in a project of some kind. Over the past several winters I have used this understanding to keep the wintertime blues away.

This past winter was one of the worst of my lifetime. Snow and cold seemed to be the norm from December until mid-March. Through all of it I had a series of mini-projects to keep me busy. Some related to my photography, others to home improvements, some were side projects at work. I even used the anticipation of visits with family and friends to keep me motivated. All of them gave me some kind of daily thing about which to get fired up. I can say, with that nasty winter well in the rear view mirror, that the strategy worked.

I have seen this at work in other people as well. I have seen co-workers who seemed to be down. They didn’t seem to have a spring in their step, or a smile on their face. Then a new project or new assignment was sent their way, and I could see their mood change overnight. Even though the pace of work may have increased, and with it some additional stress, they seemed happier.

Having something to be enthusiastic about is what keeps me young. I tend to be a fairly enthusiastic person in general, so it isn’t hard for me to find things to sink my teeth into.

Today my reflection is on the power of enthusiasm to not only help drive me to greater success, but also to drive happiness within me.

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