(Issue #635) The Ugliest House in America?

We stumble from room to room looking for bright spots. Making do.
Or perhaps we recognize we need to change


This piece came to me from two disparate sources. One from a Henry David Thoreau quote. The other by way of an HGTV series.

Two sources that you would not normally see in the same line, paragraph, story, or book. Bear with me.

Thoreau’s (attributed) quote, “No one is as old as those who have outlived enthusiasm,”  reminds us that the concepts of age and old are not only associated with the number of years that have passed in one’s life. We have all met so-called old people who have more energy, cheer, joy, pep, and smiles than people half their age. They have enthusiasm for life. They greet each day—or at least, most days—with interest and purposeful emotion. These energizing bunnies bring light to any space they enter. They see the world with wide-eyed optimism, hope, and promise.

Conversely, you have endured the soul-sucking presence of people who always find problems, slights, inconvenience, tribulations, and boredom from the moment they place their feet on the floor each morning. They squint their eyes, letting in as little light as possible. Enthusiasm is a foreign concept.

One builds a house of light and wonder. The other lives in a darkened structure.

This leads us to the HGTV series: The Ugliest House in America.  The host travels to different regions of the United States looking for those houses (nominated by their owners) with disjointed architecture, hideous décor, terrifying design, and questionable functionality. These are homes the homeowners themselves have little enthusiasm in which to live. At the end of the season, one of the homes is declared “The Ugliest House in America” and wins a $150,000 makeover. A lot of laughs and a lot of “What in the world were they thinking?”

The HGTV show uses three scales to rate ugly homes. The higher the score, the uglier the structure.

The Connection.

I have periods when enthusiasm is difficult to find. You, too, I would guess. We find ourselves in a funk or confused about where we are and what we should do next. It can be a joyless time for us and those around us. We might feel as though, in our mind, we live in the ugliest house in America. We stumble from room to room looking for bright spots. Making do. Or perhaps we recognize we need to change our thinking, planning, and direction. Instead of a renovation, we engage in a repurposement. Where are we going? What do we want to do?

Maybe, like the HGTV series, we would do well to develop an enthusiasm scale for what we do. Let’s say your scale is “1” (not much enthusiasm) to “4” (off-the-chart enthusiasm). I choose to use an even number for the scales, eliminating the cop-out of gravitating to the middle number. With an even number scale, you are either leaning toward enthusiasm or away from it.

For instance, mornings you’ll find me on the beach at sunrise. Most of the time, that earns a “4” on the enthusiasm scale. At times, though, the number drops. Not because of the beach, clouds, sun, or temperature. They are all part of the texture and add to my enthusiasm. It dips if someone interrupts the solitude with a lot of yammering and negative vibes. Once I identify that I start adjusting the next morning to keep the enthusiasm high.

The scale helps me engage in a renovation of sorts. After all, I don’t want to live in the ugliest home in America (especially if it is in my mind and heart).

How do your daily activities measure up on that scale?


You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

My newest book, Sharing Wisdom Across the Ages: From Elementary School to Retirement, in eBook and paperback was released on January 1, 2023. Click here for more information.

And you can still order:

  • Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit (2020), in eBook and paperback format. Click here.
  • Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) is at the above link.
  • Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book)Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program used the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) could serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

You can find my podcasts (all fifty episodes) here.

©2023. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Atlantic Beach, Florida

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
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