Strengths of Mind

Zest—also referred to as vitality—is an approach to life that is filled with excitement and energy.

When people hear the word “zest,” they may first think of lemons. In psychology, zest and vitality are a combination of the physical sense and the psychological sense of feeling well. Zest is about exhibiting enthusiasm and feeling energized. But zest doesn’t need to be loud—the quiet, introverted artist can approach her latest project with zest, even if she is alone in her studio.

Most kids have enthusiasm for something. In school, we can work to find what that something is and be sure not to extinguish it as kids get older.

Observing Zest

Zest may look like extroversion, but anyone can exhibit the behaviors of zest, regardless of their normal tendency to be introverted or extroverted. Exhibiting zest could involve:

  • Actively participating by asking questions or listening closely
  • Showing enthusiasm through smiles or excited comments
  • Approaching new situations with excitement and energy
  • Invigorating others around you

What the Research Says

Zest is a skill you can choose to use when the time is right. Also, zest doesn’t look the same for everyone.

There is a fair bit of research about vitality and extroversion, which are related to zest but not quite the same. One line of research has shown that all people have the ability to act in both extroverted and introverted ways. When people act in a more extroverted way—even introverted people—they can increase their positive affect and well-being.

Keep Exploring Zest

  • Watch

    This TEDx talk from Michael Kuczala, author of The Kinesthetic Classroom.

  • Read

    these tips on enthusiasm in the classroom from the Association for Psychological Science.