Enthusiasm Makes The Difference
Continuing our conversation about living an enthusiastic life, we are discussing the 12 steps to help you do so. These are not steps that I developed – let us be clear about that from the outset. The bestselling author, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, outlined his ‘treatment’ for the collapsed personality in his book “Enthusiasm Makes The Difference.”
First published in 1967, the book has sold millions of copies ever since. As mentioned in last week’s post, I have read this book at least twice before my current reading of it. Lead to read it again, these 12 steps became even more vivid to me. Dr. Peale did not delineate his book along those lines. Going through it a third time, those 12 steps seemed the best way for me to summarize and share the main points about enthusiasm and how it can benefit our daily living.
Always considering myself an accepting person, what might prove to be a scare or something “serious” is my latest challenge with enthusiasm. Read last week’s post for the background about the steps that life has now called me to take along a road that many women travel. It is that challenge that have me delving into the book again.
Update: Steps To Acceptance
Not one to dwell on illness of any kind, as my daughter drove me to the lab earlier this week to have a mammogram done, my thoughts went to this,
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2012 (second most common cancer overall). This represents about 12% of all new cancer cases and 25% of all cancers in women.
My substitute physician had not completed the requisition accurately. That is what the technician said after asking whether it was an annual screening for me or if there were symptoms. Hearing my response that there was burning and pain in my breasts since Christmas, the look on her face changed. She then explained that should the doctor see something, a diagnostic ultrasound will be necessary.
“Okay, but will it have to be today as I do have to get to work?” I asked.
She responded, “Let’s do this first and we’ll see. The scheduled might be filled anyway for today.”
After tenderly arranging my breasts like slabs of meat on the ‘thingy’, clamping them down and taking pictures, she left me partially dressed and went to the doctor. Within two minutes she was back. In an unnecessarily reassuring tone as I was calm waiting in my open-front pink gown, she told me more pictures were needed and at a specific angle.
The Steps To Enthusiasm
In just about the same amount of time, two minutes, she returned and said that an ultrasound is necessary. That is now scheduled for next week.
With that news, it became even more important for me to continue reading “Enthusiasm Makes The Difference.” To keep my posting deadline, I will not summarize all 12 steps. You will have homework – to read the book for the others.
Reminder – Dr. Peale was a minister of religion and his work was influenced by his faith. However, his appreciation and understanding of psychology also influenced both his work and teaching. So if you buy or borrow the book, please read it with an open mind and take what you can from it. That is what I did and continue to do on this my third reading.
From the opening chapter, Dr. Peale appealed to me, especially with his reference to Betty Friedman, author of the Feminine Mystique,
A good woman…is one who loves passionately, has guts, seriousness and passionate convictions, takes responsibility and shapes society. I’m horrified by the word ‘cool’. Coolness is an evasion of life… . I’d rather be hot and wrong.
With that, let us jump in.
Tell Yourself All The Good News You Know
That is the first of the steps that I identified and use every morning, including the morning of the mammogram. Quoting directly from Dr. Peale:
A vital element in developing enthusiasm is the manner in which you start your day. You can pretty well condition a day in the first five minutes after you wake up… . Careful attention to the matter of setting the tone of a day in the early hours is likely to have a determinative effect.
The second is possibly the most fundamental of all the steps. It appears in Chapter 3 under the heading – Enthusiasm Equals Love. Dr. Peale writes,
And how does one have enthusiasm in life? Actually, it is as simple as this: Cultivate the ability to love living. Love people, love the sky under which you live, love beauty, love God. The person who loves becomes enthusiastic, filled with sparkle and the joy of life. And then he (or she) goes on to fill it full of meaning.
How Enthusiasm Cancels Fear And Worry
This time around, my reading of this book is going very slowly. On the train each morning for about 15 minutes, I shut the world out and absorb the words, using them to help me set the tone for my day. There are truly no coincidences in life as Chapter Four was about using enthusiasm to cancel fear and worry was stirring in me. My thoughts were edging into “what if I have breast cancer?” and tears came to my eyes as images of my granddaughter came into my mind.
Dr. Neale offers a “five-point programme for attacking worry,” which leads is the third of the steps,
- Practice listening to yourself. “Never talk without listening, appraising and dissecting your remarks… . It will be a ruthless self-evaluation but a primary step.”
- Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself whether you really believe the negative statements that you are making about yourself and your abilities.
- Adopt a practice of saying the opposite of the negative things you usually say. It might feel strange at first but keep doing it and soon it will grow more exciting to hear words and ideas that are full of life coming from your own mouth.
- Keep a track of the things happening in your experience as you work with this procedure, even the smallest of result.
- Practice “putting the best connotation on every person and every action each day… . This is one of most exciting of all personal development” steps. As Dr. Peale noted, this is not about ignoring or being blind to the realities. It is more about trying first to emphasize the best about people and situations.
The Other Nine Steps
Do enjoy your week and catch you on Facebook until next time!