This I Believe

Leah - Franconia, New Hampshire
Entered on January 16, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change

Hi, my name is Leah and I’m a recovering cynic.

I have spent most of my life thinking that cynicism was the way to be “cool” and pretend I was tough enough to handle anything. It was a way to get through the day without having to admit how much my day disappointed me.

My practice of cynicism was supported by skilled mentors – the people I hung out with were even more cynical than I was. Cynicism was such a constant part of my life, and I was so good at it, that I never stopped to wonder whether it worked for me or not.

I was using cynicism to cover up what I thought was one of my greatest flaws – my big smile and easy laugh. I wanted to be a fascinating and intriguing woman, and I thought the way to do that was to cultivate my shadowy, mysterious side. Falling into hysterical laughter on a regular basis didn’t support the shadow or the mystery.

About six months ago, I read a sentence that literally changed how I interact with myself and my world. In a book titled The 30 Day Mental Diet, Willis Kinnear asks the reader to recognize which of their personal resources they aren’t using. It would have been easy to rush past that sentence without thinking about it. But a voice inside my head started shouting at me and wouldn’t leave me alone. It said, “ENTHUSIASM!!! You aren’t using your enthusiasm!!!” Confronted with the undeniable truth, it took me only a moment to finally see me – I am a woman with many interests and a drive to enjoy my life while learning as much as I can. I have been fighting against myself to create a person that doesn’t exist. I am not a woman of shadow or mystery. I am enthusiastic.

Practicing enthusiasm daily has shown me that I may not be “cool”, but people enjoy me when I smile. I may not be the “tough girl” that I thought I should be, but I’m having more fun. And if I walk through my day willing to be excited by it, something exciting might just happen.

In the weeks following my revelation, I was astonished by the number of people who said to me, “You have an amazing smile” or “I just love listening to you laugh!” A couple of weeks later I gave a speech at my local Toastmasters group. When my evaluator got up and opened his remarks with, “What I love about listening to Leah’s speeches is how enthusiastic she is!” I knew that I had understood the message correctly.

The word enthusiasm comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “having God within.” I would far rather be filled with God than continue to support that girl who met each day with scorn and negativity.

I believe in enthusiasm and my life is so much better because of it.