For the past year or so, I’ve been consciously working to show more enthusiasm during two specific situations: when greeting people, and when receiving a gift. As a natural introvert, I don’t always demonstrate the happiness or gratitude I might be feeling inside, so it’s something I need to intentionally practice. I’ve been making a concerted effort to have a big smile on my face when I greet someone, and to convey warmth and gratitude in my voice when someone gives me a gift.

I think enthusiasm is a lovely trait, and it’s one I’d like to cultivate. I thought about several people in my life who seem to have a natural talent for enthusiasm while crafting this list of Rules for Being Enthusiastic:

  • Rule #1: Be more enthusiastic than the next guy. No, it’s not a competition, but enthusiasm is contagious, so you can help others if you lead by example. My colleague Craig is particularly good at inspiring others on his team. I don’t actually know which came first – his leadership or his enthusiasm – but I do know that he acts enthusiastic even if he’s not always feeling it, for the sake of his teammates. And acting enthusiastic leads to genuine feelings of enthusiasm. (Alternate rule: Surround yourself with enthusiastic people.)
  • Rule # 2: Seek out the absurd. I spent one Thanksgiving day trying to move a very large boulder from one side of a yard to another because my dinner host, Bekki, decided it would be a fun challenge for her guests. What started out as an innocent question (“Can we move it?”) turned into a lengthy test of our combined strength, our knowledge of physics, and our willingness to give up turkey and potatoes in order to fulfill a whimsical self-imposed mission. If you set a personal goal of filling your life with remarkable moments, you’ll soon learn that every situation has the potential to become a great memory. Often, you just need to add enthusiasm.
  • Rule #3: Never mock someone else’s enthusiasm.  I learned this one from my old boss. Making fun of someone’s enthusiasm is the M.O. of bullies, snarky entertainment bloggers, and YouTube trolls. And I’m pretty sure these people are deeply unhappy. So the next time a less-than-tuneful person is singing “More Than a Feeling” with gusto at karaoke night, or your gangly uncle is all elbows on the dance floor at your cousin’s wedding, or your co-worker is breathlessly recounting their recent weekend LARPing adventure, hold back your cynical instincts and revel in their enthusiasm instead. Perhaps some of it will rub off on you.

Why abide by these rules? Simple. I’m pretty sure the goal in life is to feel more deeply. Enthusiasm is like a magical amplifier of positive feelings. It’s like happiness, but louder.

Do you have any rules to add?