Living with Enthusiasm Cover by Mary Marcdante

Living with Enthusiasm 
by Mary Marcdante

Living with Enthusiasm back cover by Mary Marcdante


It all started with Joyce 20 years ago. Joyce was a high-performing hotel sales rep, active arts supporter, and mother of three teenagers. She was also an image client of mine. Her enthusiasm for life could turn a roomful of pessimists in Pollyannas. Joyce had a huge laugh and was genuinely upbeat, even when her world was crashing down around her. Not that she didn’t get upset about things; in fact, her tears and frustration were as big as her laughter. But she seemed able to shake off negative situations and move into positive action in a joyful way faster than anyone I knew.

After several months of observing Joyce at work and home, I wanted that energy and happiness for myself. Not knowing where to start, I asked her one day, full of curiosity, “Joyce, do you always wake up this happy?”

Words burst out of her mouth like an uncorked bottle of champagne. “Mary, I can’t wait to jump out of bed every morning and feel my feet hit the ground! And I hate going to sleep at night because there’s just so much life to live. Honestly, I can’t get enough of it!”

I was stunned. While I loved being an entrepreneur and found my work as an image consultant immensely satisfying, I wasn’t hopping out of bed eager to start my day. And I had never heard myself belly laugh like she did, much less laugh out loud without looking to see if someone might think I was acting inappropriately.

Joyce’s response left an indelible mark on my heart. Her example set me on a path to capture and bottle that enthusiasm for my life.

Ten years later, my search intensified. My mother’s five-month battle with ovarian cancer and subsequent death gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand how short life can be. And it showed me the importance of  “going for the gusto” as often as possible…in whatever ways possible…with as many people as possible now. She reminded again and again before she died:

Life is short. Life is Precious. 
Don’t wait. Do it now.

Living with Enthusiasm is about going for the gusto now. It is filled with inspiring people, powerful lessons, and practical positive strategies that I’ve discovered on my journey. It will help you take daily action to bring more joy, excitement, delight, passion, love, or whatever you define as enthusiasm into everything you do.

Some days you simply won’t feel enthusiastic. You’ll even forget you can make more joyful choices in the moment. That’s natural. But when you catch yourself out of sync, pick up this book and read even a few sentences. I promise you’ll find a story, quote, question, strategy, or activity that will be exactly what you need to shift your funk into fun.

Some people believe enthusiasm is a superficial effort to gain approval, deny reality, mask sadness, or avoid having deep conversations. In some situations, this may be true, but enthusiasm is also an expression of love, joy, and deep caring about a person, idea, thing, or experience. With all the issues we now face  – global terrorism, neighborhood violence, increasing weather disasters, environmental illness, and just day-to-day stress, I believe the world needs all of our enthusiasm, optimism, ideas, and compassionate support.

What’s the 21-Day Smile Diet?

     For the past year, I’ve had the privilege of speaking around the country for Speaking of Women’s Health events on the topic of “Brighten Up and Smile: Your Self-Esteem, Your Smile, and Your Health,” sponsored by Proctor & Gamble’s Crest Global Business Unit. When preparing for that program, I was amazed to find a huge body of research on the power of a smile. A smile impacts your self-confidence, health, relationships, success, and overall zest for living. A smile really can change your life.

     The “21-Day Smile Diet” idea came to me in a creative flash following a conversation with Laurel Green at a Speaking of Women’s Health event in Kansas City, Missouri. Laurel is a women’s health hospital administrator and a wife, mother, and volunteer. She told me about her system for losing 50 pounds and it inspired me tremendously. She didn’t go on a formal diet, yet still her weight melted off over a year’s time. She attributes this to three actions she took – 1) Eating a little less every day, 2) Exercising a little more every day, 3) And most importantly, committing to doing a fun activity every day – just for herself. After we talked, I could not get out of my head the idea of losing weight through a daily commitment of fun.

     On the plane home to San Diego, I started comparing the contradiction of the words “diet” and “fun.” If the two were human beings, their relationship would never last. This idea made me laugh. Out of the blue popped the words “Smile Diet.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized this could be a great format for living with enthusiasm.

     From all of my years in leading seminars on stress management and personal change, I knew that it took a minimum of 21 days to make or break a habit. I also knew that people function best when they have a system to follow that also allows for fun. Yes! A “21-Day Smile Diet” was exactly what was needed to make enthusiasm a regular part of anyone’s life.

     Whether or not weight loss is your goal, the “21-Day Smile Diet” format feeds and nourishes your body, mind, spirit, heart, and soul. As you begin doing more things for yourself that feel good, the unhealthy behaviors begin to fall away. This diet is fun and doesn’t require denying yourself chocolate! It is a system to help you create more energy and delight in your daily life, not just on vacations or when the Universe surprises you out of the blue. I know from first-hand experience it will increase your zest for life and give you a program you can follow forever.

What’s the Best Way to Use This Book?

Living with Enthusiasm is organized into 21 readings within five chapters that cover: what enthusiasm is, why enthusiasm is important, characteristics of enthusiastic people, the secret to daily enthusiasm, and how to keep enthusiasm alive during challenging times.

     You’ll learn about the latest research on enthusiasm and how it impacts workplace hiring decisions, healing, and relationships. You’ll be coached on how to appreciate and celebrate yourself more often without guilt. And you’ll discover principles that give yourself permission to say “no” to the good and “yes” to the great.

     Starting with Day 1, you’ll greet each day with a question, inspiring quotations and life-changing stories about people who have discovered how to create and sustain enthusiasm in their lives. At the end of each day, there will be an action step for you to take that will increase your pleasure, additional tips to help you create more enthusiasm, and questions to ask yourself that will enhance your self-awareness. I’ll encourage you to share your renewed passion with others. If you wish to deepen your knowledge of a particular topic, go to the resource section at the end of book that includes websites, books, magazines, movies, and music.

     At the end of each day, you’ll have the opportunity to record the fun, joy, and “Oooh” or “Ah hah!” experiences you had during that day in the journaling section.

     Another way to use this material is to let your intuition guide you. Browse the Table of Contents or open to any page for inspiration and ideas that might put more enthusiasm into your life.

     I invite you to share this unique and personal program with a friend or a group of friends or extended family. Encourage everyone to commit to the program for the full 21 days for the greatest benefit. Or extend the benefits and use the book for 21 weeks, focusing on one day’s information for a week at a time. Do a weekly phone call with a friend or get your group together once a week for reinforcement. Use this as a catalyst for a self-help book club that will make every day happier for all of you.

     Whatever you do, remember: This journey is about adding more joy, excitement, delight, passion, and love into everything you do. Let your enthusiasm lead the way and share your results with as many people as possible. As my friend Jana Stanfield writes and sings so beautifully, “The world needs all the good that you can do.”

      I would love to hear from you along the way and invite you to email me at

     Watch for miracles. They are on their way.


Mary Marcdante

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Copyright 2003 Mary Marcdante
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