All of my life I have always wondered, “what is the secret to living the happiest, most successful, and most positive life possible?”
Is it the extremely underrated skill of being able to push through intense and unrelenting pain in order to reach our goals?
Is it the life-saving ability to bounce back quickly from the crap that life throws at us?
Is it simply avoiding these 7 life-destroying pitfalls on a daily basis?
Actually, yes to all of the above.
But there’s more.
There’s an additional piece to this positivity puzzle that isn’t given nearly as much attention as it deserves, and I want to change that today.
The additional piece is energy.
The question is: Are you using it to your advantage?
Let’s find out.
Life’s Secret Weapon
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think that Ralph nailed it in his quote above.
This past Saturday, I was given the honor of delivering the keynote speech to the Bobcats of UC Merced during their annual Leadership Conference. The entire conference was themed around the Impact of Positivity (my kind of conference!), and every speaker that I met at this conference was brilliant, well-spoken and engaging.
I also noticed that they all shared something else in common.
They were all enthusiastic.
For some reason, some people cringe when they hear the word enthusiasm.
To set the record straight–enthusiasm isn’t about high-fiving everyone in sight, bouncing off of the walls with excitement for 24 hours a day, or ending every sentence with multiple exclamation points. (But there’s nothing wrong with any of that if it’s how you choose to get down.)
Enthusiasm at its core is all about energy.
And believe me, you can’t do anything meaningful (and I mean, anything) without energy.
Enthusiasm is the fuel that gives us our energy, and I’m convinced that we can’t live our best lives without it.
Seriously, how much better are we at life when we’re enthusiastic about it?
When we find work that we’re enthusiastic about, we consistently perform better, work harder, and derive infinitely more enjoyment from it.
When we find a significant other who we’re enthusiastic about being with, we give that person the absolute best of us.
When we’re enthusiastic about our dreams, we have the energy to plow through the naysayers as if they weren’t even there.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a little biased when it comes to this topic.
For the people reading this who know me personally, I’m sure that 100% of you will say that I’m a pretty enthusiastic guy.
I know firsthand the numerous benefits that enthusiasm can bring to a person’s life, and I’m not afraid to say that I’m very enthusiastic about the topic of enthusiasm (if that makes any sense.)
But I’m also a guy who has plenty of experience living life on the opposite side of the enthusiasm.
I can confidently tell you that there is nothing better than living life fully with energy, passion, and purpose, and there’s nothing worse than doing the opposite.
If you don’t believe me, allow me to share with you a glimpse into my previous life.
Living at Half-Speed
A little over a decade ago, I spent the majority of my life asleep.
Literally and figuratively.
When I was at work, I would answer the all-too-common “how are you doing?” question in the same predictable manner.
Sometimes, if I was feeling really energetic, I’d elaborate by saying, “I’m okay, I guess.”
Each day, I would sleepwalk my way through my work tasks, sleepwalk through my interpersonal interactions with others, and sleepwalk through anything that was in my way until I was finally able to go to sleep for real.
Having enthusiasm about anything was pretty much a foreign concept to me, and I lived my life that way on a daily basis.
Like Ralph Waldo Emerson warned in his quote above: Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Predictably, since I didn’t have enthusiasm or energy working for me, I accomplished absolutely nothing meaningful (forget about “great”) for close to six years of my life.
Thankfully, through a series of pretty powerful wake-up calls, I realized something life-changing:
Nothing good would ever come to my life if I kept living at half-speed.
I would still be sleeping on my leaky air mattress in my hole-in-the-wall apartment, working in my embarrassingly low-paying job, dating the same emotionally-abusive women, and literally sleeping my entire life away if I didn’t give my life the energy and enthusiasm that it deserved.
When I finally decided to live my life at full-speed, it was shortly afterward that everything changed.
I noticed that bringing the energy was insanely contagious and it attracted higher quality people into my life who shared the same energy and passion that I now possessed.
I realized that enthusiasm (which literally means “divinely inspired” or “possessed by God”) brought me a deep, soul-satisfying joy that could never be experienced from living at half-speed.
Most of all, I realized that enthusiasm helped me to find purpose in my life.
I owe a lot to the power of enthusiasm.
In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that enthusiasm has made me into the man that I am today.
Never Apologize, Ever
There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never.” -Unknown
I saw the above quote posted on the wall of one of my favorite Facebook pages, and I instantly resonated with it. It was like it was written directly for me.
Here’s one of the many examples why:
Recently, a guy who I work with tried to warn me that most people won’t take me seriously because I “smile too much” and I’m “too enthusiastic.”
I smiled (of course) and said, “the people who matter will take me seriously.”
I’m sure that he walked away from our conversation shaking his head while thinking, “wow, that guy completely doesn’t get it.”
I know that’s what I thought when I walked away from him.
My energy and enthusiasm aren’t things that I’m willing to apologize for.
Let’s get real for a minute.
This might sound a little morbid (probably because it is), but each day that we’re alive is one day closer to our death.
Sobering, I know–but that’s the stone cold truth.
All of us only have a finite amount of time to go after our dreams, love with our full heart, and experience the best that life has to offer before it’s all over.
Why not give this life–the only life we’ll ever have, mind you–our full energy and enthusiasm while we’re able to do so?
There will come a day when we’re at the end of our ride here on earth, and what could be more devastating than sadly looking back on our lives with the regret that we said “later” to living fully, only to realize that there is no more “later” left?
I’m not doing that.
So while I’m here, I’ll be giving more hugs than handshakes, using exclamation points liberally in my emails, energetically jumping up and down when the mood strikes, refusing to live as one of the half-speed sleepwalkers, and most importantly, bringing my fullest energy to everything that I can, as much as I’m able to do so.
I’m bringing the energy, and I’m proud of it.
Are you ready to bring it too?
Do you believe in the power of energy and enthusiasm? How do you deal with people who don’t value energy as much as you do? Jump into the conversation below and make your voice heard!