Monday, November 14, 2011

What To Do When Enthusiasm Wanes

Hello Optimists,

I was doing a bit of reading today and came across an incredibly poignant little story...

Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" brings us the following:

In a story called, "The Turn of the Tide," author Arthur Gordon describes a time when he found his world stale and flat. His enthusiasm for life waned, and he was getting worse daily.

A medical doctor found nothing physically wrong with him, but he said he might be able to help if Gordon could follow his instructions for one day. He was to spend the next day in the place where he'd been happiest as a child. He was not to talk to anyone, nor to read, write, or listen to the radio. The doctor then wrote our four prescriptions and told him to open one at 9am, noon, 3pm, and 6pm.

The next morning, Gordon went to the beach. His first prescription said only this: "Listen carefully." It seemed insane to listen to waves for three hours. But he did it - and began to hear more and more sounds that weren't obvious at first. He began to think of lessons he'd learned as a child from the sea: patient, respect for the interdependence of things. He felt a growing peace.

The noon prescription read, "Try reaching back." To what? He thought of joyful times of his childhood, and felt a growing warmth inside.

The 3pm message thew some cold water on him: "Examine your motives." At first, he was defensive. Of course he wanted success, fame, security - he could justify them all. But then it occurred to him that these motives weren't good enough, and that fact was making him stagnant. "It makes no difference," he wrote later, "whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, a housewife - whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well - a law that is an inexorable as gravity.

When 6pm came, the final prescription didn't take long to fill: "Write your worries on the sand." He knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell: then he turned and walked away. He didn't look back; he knew the tide would come in. 

This lovely story left me with three big takeaways:

First, in order to help ourselves out, we must first take a good look in - to our hearts, our minds, our lives.

Second, worrying about too many little things can take a drag on life. Instead, we must identify and address only the items of main concern, then go on enjoying the present and looking forward to and preparing for what the future can bring.

And Third, where can I find a doctor like that?

Share your thoughts on this story and the subject below. I'd love to hear what you think!

Keep Smiling,


  1. Good entry! Vanessa, I just wanted to leave a note with you that you might want to check out this month's issue of Psychology Today... there's an interesting article on optimism!

    Talk to you soon!

  2. Nice story. I needed a dose of that. I need to refocus some of my energies I think and maybe turn off talk radio during the day. All the repetition of the bad crap is getting me down a bit and distracting me big time.

    You always come up with something good to uplift a weighted heart and mind. Thank you.

    Best selling author Lani Diane Rich visits
    Tossing It Out
    Wednesday November 16th.


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