Enthusiasm as Inner Guidance When you find yourself at an impasse or feeling lost, enthusiasm can be a bread crumb trail to guide you back to your path.
True enthusiasm is a feeling that comes from the most authentic part of you. Following your enthusiasm does mean being perky or cheerful all the time. It’s different than excitement or giddiness. Enthusiasm comes from connecting fully to the world and your own self-expressed heart’s desire. Enthusiasm is a body-based sensation that originates at the heart level. When I’m in enthusiasm, I sense the origin of this feeling coming from the area in my chest around my heart center.
Have you noticed that when you feel enthusiastic about something you have all kinds of energy at your disposal to pursue that interest? For example, if you love to downhill ski, without hesitation you rise at dawn, pack your gear, assemble your wardrobe, and drive four hours to the hill. You find impossibly creative schemes to afford a lift ticket. You feel physically spent, yet emotionally and mentally energized, after skiing.
In another example, you might be at a party where you don’t seem to connect with anyone. As the night progresses you become disengaged and tired. Then an old friend arrives unexpectedly and, as you connect and catch up, you find yourself alert and renewed. Where did this renewal of energy come from?
When you are “en thous” you activate your connection to the essence of who you are. Your heart’s desire resides in this core essence of your being. Core essence energy is unlimited, self-sustaining, and vital. It provides you with all the energy you need to move toward your enthusiastic heart’s desire.
Connect to Your Enthusiasm As responsible adults, we can sometimes lose our enthusiasm and not even realize it’s gone. Let’s take a moment to reconnect to the experience of enthusiasm.
Think of something that you feel excited to do or to plan for. If you’re truly enthusiastic about it, when you imagine yourself being there in your mind’s eye you will experience an energizing, eager, and even hopeful physical response. You may notice that you sit up straighter, you may feel your breath shift, a smile may come to your face, you may feel your focus sharpen, and you may feel inspired to take action. These responses may vary from feeling strong to feeling rather subtle. Pay attention to them.
Once you connect to something you are enthusiastic about, let yourself sit with this experience for a few moments. Allow the feeling of enthusiasm to reestablish itself as a positive imprint in your body and your memory.
Self-Check Get paper and pencil and do a quick self-check.
What parts of your life are you most enthusiastic about right now? This is a little different than asking what you value or what you are grateful for. What do you look forward to doing during the week? What elements of your day give you the fuel to move forward? Maybe it’s your time with family, or creative interaction with business collegues. Maybe it’s your exercise practice, a loved hobby, a new relationship, or just that first cup of good coffee in the morning.
There is no right answer. Be honest with yourself. If you’re enjoying the pursuit of a new endeavor or relationship, you may be feeling that enthusiasm trickle over into your whole day. If you’re going through a more difficult time, there may little or no enthusiasm that jumps out at you. If you are in the latter situation, go deeper. There are one or two things in your week that you resonate with. Take the time to identify them.
How You Lose Enthusiasm
Doing things you think you should do without doing the things you are truly drawn to do.
Doing things the way you have been taught they should be done instead of allowing your awareness and creativity to guide you.
Judging and dismissing enthusiasm out of fear that it may lead you astray.
Over doing and draining the body and mind. If you’re exhausted, the only thing you’ll feel draw to do is rest and renew because that is the most essential next step for your well-being.
Lack of spiritual and personal rejuvenation time.
Believing that you can never have what you truly want anyway, so what’s the point in trying.
Believing that you can’t be a responsible adult and follow your enthusiasm at the same time.
Get Out of a Rut If you are in a rut in some aspect of your life (career, relationships, finances, health, self-esteem), you can work your way out of the rut by finding your enthusiasm and following it. This does not need to happen through an extreme change in what you’re doing. Often, removing or adding small things on a daily or weekly basis is what leads to the greatest change over time. Baby steps get you started. Once you have a little enthusiasm, it naturally grows and grows. Here are a few steps you can take.
1) Let It Flow First, reacquaint yourself with the feeling of enthusiasm. As we move into adulthood, it’s common to pack away our enthusiasm as if it’s something to outgrow. We look at the natural exuberance in children and say, “how great to be a kid.” We might even associate our own enthusiasm with being immature and as a result hesitate to embrace and act on it. Notice any limitations you may have placed on yourself. Then give yourself permission to feel your enthusiasm and not judge it.
Saying “follow your enthusiasm” is another way of saying “be your authentic self” or "honor yourself.” Your fun will not look like others’ fun. Avoid comparisons. Honor what’s coming out of you from enthusiasm. Find the courage to honor and embrace it.
2) Feel Your Heart Unproductive mental cycling uses a lot of our conscious energy. We often treat mental cycling as a given, as if it’s normal. However, if you want to learn to discern subtle feelings like enthusiasm, you’ll need to be able to stop thinking. Awareness and intuition do not come from your mind.
One of the best ways to get out of your head is to get into your heart. Your heart center is an energetic aspect of your physical body located in the center of your chest. When you want to become more aware, you can consciously move your attention from your head into your heart area. Breathe into the area just behind your sternum and notice the physical sensations there. This moves your from thought to feeling and awareness. Allow your mind to settle down. From this place of heart-centered awareness, you’ll find it much easier to feel your enthusiasm.
If you find you’re drawn to behaviors that you know are not healthy or productive, look at whether you're coming from your heart or your head. There are different ways to be yourself: you have a higher self and a lower self. When you are stuck in your head, you are mroe susceptible to lower-self dramas. When you connect to your heart, you get closer to your higher self. Depending on which part of yourself you’re coming from, your ability to successfully navigate using enthusiasm will vary. Looking at yourself honestly, identifying your fears, and finding the courage to push beyond them, moves you from lower-self experience to higher self-awareness.
3) Choose with Enthusiasm Next, when you have a decision to make, experiment with using enthusiasm as your guide. Begin with small, low-risk daily choices, such as which socks or underwear to put on, which music to listen to on the way to work, or what to have for lunch. Once you get into the habit of giving your enthusiasm a voice, it will begin to speak more clearly. Then you can move to larger decisions.
It’s okay if a feeling of strong enthusiasm is not present at first. Always choose the option that you’re most enthusiastic about. Choose the thing that has even the smallest spark of light, enjoyment, or hope. Be conscious and commit to NOT making choices that cause you to feel deflated, apathetic, or resigned. When all else fails, simply trying something new can do the trick to spark your enthusiasm.
Like all inner guidance, enthusiasm will point you toward your true self, which may require seeing and healing old wounds, beliefs, and patterns. As a result, your enthusiasm may lead to situations where you may experience something other than looking good, fitting in, being right, or staying comfortably small and secure. Your personality-self may not be immediately pleased when this happens, because it's your higher self that leads the way when you let enthusiasm guide you. Have faith.
4) Keep an Open Eye Become alert to new opportunities and people. Pay attention to what begins to come your way and be receptive to new possibilities.
You don’t need to take drastic measures to create change. Intentionally pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone a little at a time starts the repatterning process without creating drama. Once you begin to let your enthusiasm and awareness flow, the natural process of change begins and possibilities open up that you never might have thought of before. Keep your eyes and mind open, and be receptive!
Questions to Consider
Do I know what my enthusiasm feels like?
Can I list five activities/topics/experiences for which I can feel enthusiasm?
Do I know what if feels like to be connected to my heart and how it’s different from experiencing things from my head only?
How do I dismiss or judge my enthusiasm? Do I tend to choose looking good, fitting in, or playing safe over my enthusiastic heart’s desire?
Out of all the things I plan to do today, which one am I most enthusiastic about? Can I make that a priority?
Is there something I have enthusiasm for that I don’t do on a regular basis? Why? How can I begin to allow this thing into my life?