Enthusiasm is a courageous trait

There were many moments in reading The Happiness Project when I would stop, close the book over a finger and just let something sink in. It would happen when I read something that was somewhat of a gateway to an epiphany – like I was on the cusp of actual internal change if only I could absorb it all by letting it reel in whatever part of me it was pulling at. This particular passage gave me the greatest pause:

It would be so much safer to mock… or to enjoy it in an ironic, campy way, than to admire it wholeheartedly… Enthusiasm is a form of social courage… Because of a dark element in human nature, we’re sometimes provoked to shake the enthusiastic, cheery folk out of their fog of illusion – to make them see that the play was stupid, the money was wasted, the meeting was pointless.

– excerpt from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

In fact, the whole section felt so heavy to me. Part of me considering the times I’ve worked to quash someone else’s enthusiasm. Part of me remembering the times I had let my sunny nature fall below someone else’s shadow. Part of me wondering when was the last time I truly admired something wholeheartedly.  Part of me pondering what I had missed out by having to edit my admiration down to its ironic form.

I don’t like could-haves, would-haves or should-haves. I could mourn the abbreviated experiences in my life that might have been more had I been a little more courageous with my enjoyment. But instead, I’ll just make a deliberate effort to join in on others’ enthusiasm rather than scorn it, to avoid tempering my expressions of delight and to be more socially courageous.

Or, you know, whatever.