enthusiasm

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.

4 comments

  1. Jeff Black on

    “Train with ‘Kansha no kokoro’ (「感謝の心」– a heart of gratitude). Move through your technique as though you were saying to uke, ‘Thank you, thank you!!”
    Motomichi Anno Sensei, 8th Dan

  2. This is very well expressed and a very fundamental truth as well. And as you point out “easier said than done'”. But when we try to bring enthusiasm to our work, or martial practice… then we are bringing enthusiasm to our very lives as well.

    Our lives are shorter than we are able to consciously realize. But they are also a great series of ‘moments’. When we are enthusiastic we are in that ‘moment’.

    Our minds can only be in one of three places at any moment. These are of course
    1-The Past
    2-The Present, and
    3-The Future

    There are times when remembering the past serves us, there are clearly times when projecting ourselves tactically into what might happen next, that is the future, also serves us. But we must cultivate our minds to be able to enter the moment, the absolute real time, ‘here and now’. This can help us martial our enthusiasm for what we are doing at the moment.

    With proper practice almost anything becomes easier for us, hence when we practice ‘marshalling our enthusiasm’ we are then practicing that skill and our ability to ‘marshall our enthusiasm’ so the next time it may well flow to us even more freely.

    At times at my school I have the people do an exercise directed towrds such practice. I learned it from the Dahlia Lama of Tibet’s teachings through Shidoshi Stephen Hayes, and to me it is good one. The objective is to practice gaining control of where your mind is, that is in the past, in the present or in the future. We are training in this drill to keep our mind focused in the present.

    The procedure is simple. Two persons sit in front of each other facing each other (‘seiza’ is the tradition but not absolutely needed here). They both relax completely. Then the one designated person calls out gently “Now’? at some random time.

    The other person then responds in only one of three ways and with a single word. He responds “past” or “present’ or “future”. That is he articulates where his mind is at that instant.

    For example, if he is thinking “is he going to say now, … now?” then his mind is in the future. If he’s thinking “this is sort of like another meditation exercise I did …” then his mind is in the past.

    But if he is listening to the sound of someone else in the dojo shifting their weight in their seiza, and he is aware of this, if he is hearing crickets outside the window chirping, if he is aware of his own breath or even his own heartbeat, then he is in the total present.

    Juts as we can relax and learn to allow our minds to be where we need them at the moment, we can practice allowing our minds to enter a state of greater ‘enthusiasm‘. And when we do that then we often see that the old saying “enthusiasm is contagious’ has great truth to it.

    But keep this caution in mind too, as it is the other side of the coin so to speak and so realize that the opposite is also true. If we are leading a class and the attendants see we are not truly enthusiastic, then they will not be either. Our obligation or “Own” is thus to be enthusiastic.

    I will often use humor to help the people find their enthusiasm in class. When a person laughs, they are always ‘in the moment’ they are in the absolute present. Enthusiasm is a state of mind that can exists chiefly when the mind is totally in the present.

  3. Hello Jonas! I simply loved your post, and I fully agree with this last bit “We have to bring the enthusiasm to the task, and can’t wait for it to come to us.”

    I have seen time again how enthusiasm transforms group dynamics, and all of a sudden you have people that are able to push further, think out of the box more easily and obtain their respective goals just that little bit easier. Enthusiasm is in my opinion a fuel, a power source that we can all use in our daily lives. One that we should not neglect.

    Also, thank you for featuring my cartoon on your website! If you need more, or want a specific series done, just contact me and I’ll assist gladly.

    Have a wonderful day, and thanks for this post!

    • Jonas Ellison on

      Abie,

      Thank you so much for the wonderful art and kind words! Definitely will keep ya in mind for the future:)

      Jonas

Leave a Reply to Peyton × Cancel