Mantra

Enthusiasm is a soul trait that lends itself to several alternative mantras. Which of these fits you best?

  • "Make the most of every moment."
  • "Look before you leap."
  • "Run to do good."

I particularly like "run to do good" because it follows directly from a teaching by Ben Azzai in the Talmud: "Run to pursue a minor mitzvah [commandment], and flee from a transgression. For a mitzvah brings another mitzvah, and a transgression brings another transgression."

Choose a mantra, write it on an index card, and put it somewhere you’ll see it in the morning. As an extra burst of enthusiasm, make a second copy of your mantra and put it in your car.

Observe

Rabbi Dov Ber of Radoshitz would waken his roommates with the call, "Wake up, my brothers! A guest you’ve never seen has arrived. Once he leaves, you will never see him again. [Who is the guest?] Today." As you go through your day, use Rabbi Radoshitz’s words and the questions below as a yardstick to evaluate your enthusiasm balance.

  • Do you treat each moment as a unique opportunity to do good?
  • How does your enthusiasm wax and wane over the course of the day? When do you feel the heaviness of inaction gaining ascendance? When are you just phoning it in?
  • Alternatively, what are the things that you are most passionate about? Are you putting your energy into the right things or are you squandering your enthusiasm on activities or causes that do not align with your core values?

Write down your observations in your journal.

Greg Marcus in The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions