This weekend, at the finish line of the Ride to Conquer Cancer, our friend, Eric, truly had enthusiasm written all over his face. After riding 220 km over 2 days, how is it possible that his enthusiasm was at this high a level?

Not surprisingly, there is not considerable scientific research on enthusiasm. Mary Macdante, a writer and public speaker, wrote a book called Living with Enthusiasm and lists the six characteristics of enthusiasm. As unscientific as that is, I did find the ideas presented interesting, if not pretty much based on common sense.

According to Macdante, enthusiastic people radiate energy; are curious and interested; focus on the good; feel deeply and laugh often; do something they love; and serve a greater purpose.

Without question, if you put all those qualities together, you get an enthusiastic person – quite possibly on an infomercial trying to sell you something you do not want. Or someone who you avoid because their enthusiasm is just TOO much.

The type of people most of us are drawn to tend to be tempered by reality and have situational, as opposed to global, enthusiasm.  Professor Harald zur Hausen, a Nobel Prize winner in Medicine in 2008, discussed the concept of enthusiasm with the newsletter Research in Germany. Professor zur Hausen believes enthusiasm is a prerequisite for outstanding research.  The incredible amount of work, possibility for frustration and attention to detail required by scientists and students of science would definitely make momentum hard to maintain without enthusiasm.

Back to our friend Eric. On Sunday, at the finish line, he definitely radiated energy and was doing something he loved. By participating in the Ride, he was doing something that served a greater purpose.  With all the hard work and possibility for frustration, his enthusiasm was needed throughout the training process. Given that Eric is a regular (not irritatingly enthusiastic) guy on a regular day, I feel safe in saying his enthusiasm was reflective of a state of mind needed for a particular circumstance.

That is, of course, just my highly unscientific opinion.