Partner School Stories

Approaching Every Opportunity with Enthusiasm

By Joey Pagano


Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

-Winston Churchill

Photo by Thanos Pal on Unsplash

Our attitudes play a major role in determining the direction of our lives. I won’t say they’re the absolute deciding factor — but I will say bringing enthusiasm to the table every day pushes us towards healthier lives.

Enthusiasm, also referred to as zest, has always been a significant aspect of my values. I have always forced myself to have energy, like when I was younger and was persistent to keep up with my peers during kickball games at recess. Because of that enthusiasm, my differences didn’t matter — and I would argue that mindset has only intensified as I’ve gotten older.

However, I didn’t identify enthusiasm as a top strength of mine until I became familiar with The Positivity Project. When I took the VIA Character Strengths Survey, I realized it was one of my top-five character strengths. This convinced me to be even more mindful of its importance.

Enthusiasm’s significance in my life comes from my experiences with disappointment. For instance, I spent much of middle school teaming up with family members, therapists, and friends, trying to figure out the best way for me to accomplish my school work. Because we knew that carrying a laptop and an adaptive mouse and keyboard wouldn’t be a realistic option once I reached college.

It was trial-and-error until we realized I could use an iPad as well as anything else.

En route to the iPad discovery, the negativity that came with searching for the answer was real — especially as I saw possibilities slowly getting crossed out. However, I didn’t allow myself to lose faith. And, I decided I would offer the same time, effort, and enthusiasm to each attempt, regardless of any preconceived notions I had about its outcome.

I knew that, in the end, success was the only option and I would have to be the one to push through the failure and adversity. But more importantly, I saw that what we were trying to figure out would greatly impact the rest of my life and would eventually be a part of my everyday life, whether it would help me get a job or give me a better way to communicate with others.

Since then, I have valued the idea of having an opportunistic mindset. Whether it’s a new device or a new environment, I see it as an opportunity — an opportunity for self-improvement and an opportunity to never look back.

Knowing there are constantly opportunities along my path is all the motivation I need. And the fear of allowing one to slip away convinces me to be equally enthusiastic about each one.

That notion of having and not having has resonated with me since day one. Sure, I may not have every ability humanity has been presented with, but I was gifted with life and have to take advantage of every thing that came in that package.

However, as with most things, my enthusiasm isn’t bulletproof. I still have moments where obstacles, like the ones I encountered as I tried to figure out how I would write articles and complete assignments, suck the life out of me.

Times like that are when I need to be the most enthusiastic. That experience — not knowing how I would express myself and my passion for writing — was discouraging. But I was persistent to make it work. When I tried a piece of technology, and it didn’t work, I moved on and looked forward to trying the next. I saw each trial as it’s own opportunity that deserved enthusiasm.

When it comes down to it, I believe I can get through anything. This belief provides me with the energy necessary to push through the tough times without losing my enthusiasm.







Joey Pagano
Student, Syracuse University

Building the Other People Matter Mindset and remembering and emphasizing its importance is what I aim for day after day. As I continue to pursue a career in journalism and attend the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, I aim to show people that buying into The Positivity Project doesn’t mean you have to be happy and positive all the time, but instead means we have to work together more and build positive relationships. You can also find Joey on Twitter @Wheelchair_QB and at his blog www.wheelchairqb.com.