In line with cultural expectations at the time when I was growing up, English Literature was not my favorite subject. Math, Science, and Phys Ed were “guy subjects”, although history was also acceptable – event though it was a verbal subject that was really in the female domain in those days. Things changed for me in high school when I had a teacher who invariable ended the literature part of our English classes with the phrase, “That was really interesting!” As I put my book away during classes early in the term, I rarely found myself sharing her enthusiasm. Over time, however, that enthusiasm grew on me – & I noticed that the same thing happened with other guys in my class. We began to enjoy literature, and sometimes even talked about it after class.
I guess that I was a budding psychologist even in those days because I began to notice teacher behavior in other classes. While there were some subjects that were inherently more interesting or easy for me, the teacher often made a big difference for me by how enthused he or she was about the subject being taught. I suspect that most teachers are interested in what they are teaching, but not all are excited about it to the extent that they are able to spontaneously share that excitement with their students.
This isn’t a blog about teaching, however; it’s a blog about you and me. All of us are in a position to influence others: children, spouses, other family members, friends, co-workers, and possibly employees. We are all role models for some people. How much do we convey our enthusiasm when we want our child to be committed to school or to learn a new skill in art or music or sports? How happy are we to see our spouse or child when they come home? What do we do to make at the work place a positive place? How welcome do we make friends or relatives whom we only see on occasion? Do we go to a restaurant or on a vacation prepared to not enjoy ourselves, or doe we approach those events with enthusiasm – even if we recognize that there could be some inconveniences along with our pleasure.
Planning to be positive is one of the easiest skills to acquire. It doesn’t take any special training, and we all have some experience at being enthusiastic. If you become proactively enthusiastic about living life and enjoying the people around you, that enthusiasm will spread to others and be emotionally rewarding to you on a big time basis. Sometimes all it takes is a phrase such as my former English teacher used. You can do a lot worse than learning to cultivate and call upon phrases such as, “I’m really proud of you,” “I’m glad we could spend some time together,” or, “It’s always fun doing things with you”.
As usual, I am interested in hearing your comments and suggestions.