I’ve slowly been realizing how essential enthusiasm is for prolonged enjoyment and growth in anything it’s applied to. Drawing the parallel to Aikido, I liken it to the ki of the technique, or intention/energy behind it. Adding enthusiasm to anything makes whatever it is we’re doing more worth while, and sometimes quite a bit so. Those of us who are naturally more enthusiastic than others will see this as obvious. I’ve always known enthusiasm to be a great attribute but it’s been kind of an epiphany for me just how big of a key enthusiasm is in development and how essential it is for getting the most out of whatever we may be doing. When we leave our enthusiasm behind, we leave ourselves behind, and although we may still be able to do whatever task we’re doing, we’re really only partly there. I’m sure in past posts I may have touched on this, but I’ve really been experimenting with it in daily life and am amazed at the outcomes I see. When we consciously bring enthusiasm to the task, now we’re fully engaged, and we can work wonders, excelling faster and more fully than before.
Sure, there are certain things that bring out our enthusiasm more than others. These are things we are naturally inclined towards, and this is why we accomplish more in these areas than others. Training in Aikido, we are always looking to improve (the Japanese concept of kaizen) little by little. It’s natural and relatively simple to enjoy working on techniques we’re good at, and when we do a technique that we don’t really like, we sometimes don’t really want to be doing that technique at all. This not-wanting-to attitude stems from a lack of enthusiasm and leads to us not practicing it, which leads to it still being a technique we really don’t like. When faced with this, try consciously adding enthusiasm to the technique(s) you’re not crazy about doing. Psyche yourself into learning to really enjoy this. As usual, it’s easier said than done, but well worth it. It’s fun to really hack away at the more difficult techniques, or even the ones you just don’t like doing if you go about it with this mindset.
The reason we don’t like certain techniques is because we have some sort of resistance with it. Being Aikidoists, we can work with this resistance and create art out of it. This isn’t going to happen without enthusiasm. Going into it with the undertone of enthusiasm makes the most boring or difficult technique into art. As usual, this works on the ukemi (attack) part of the technique as well. Even the slowest tsuki (strike to the solar plexus) can feel really real if done with enthusiasm. It adds another layer of connection.
A tricky part about it is we can’t wait for this enthusiasm to come to us. Sure, it sometimes does, but we need to be able to control this great tool and put it to work as much as possible. I’ve been applying enthusiasm to tasks at work lately, and the results are really satisfying. I first catch myself becoming bored. This is my signal to myself (there’s those multiple personalities again…) to remove the kink and let the enthusiasm flow into whatever it is I’m doing. In cases where before I was getting mediocre results, after consciously applying enthusiasm, I learn way more, retain way more, and feel positive about what was just done as opposed to frustrated or indifferent. In most cases, this is something we have to initiate. We have to bring the enthusiasm to the task, and can’t wait for it to come to us. Just having this undertone of enthusiasm changes so many things. Our posture changes, our tone changes, our coordination changes, our eye to eye contact changes, and probably more. Enthusiasm is contagious, and when others sense that we have it, they tend to become more enthusiastic as well, leading to a better interaction if we happen to be working or communicating with someone else or in a group.