Why does zest matter?

Zest is enthusiasm and energy. Doing something with zest means reveling in the process. It's is about being so excited that you can’t wait to dive in and learn everything you possibly can. 

Zest is infectious; when we’re with someone who truly loves what they do, we also tend to see its radiance. And zest is invigorating; students often find that after they do things that they have zest for, they feel more zest and energy, not less.

This kind of vitality helps students tap into their curiosity, persevere even when learning is tough, and help peers discover new interests.

What does zest look like?

Students with zest might

  • feel both physical and psychological vitality
  • actively participate by asking questions and listening closely
  • invigorate others by talking about their interest
  • read about their interest in their free time

Teachers with zest might

  • plan extra joy into lessons and routines (e.g., gamify a lesson; introduce a song to teach a concept)
  • participate enthusiastically in professional development and meetings
  • share positive student interactions, by email or in person, with other staff

Research articles about zest

Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(2), 159–168.
Richard M. Ryan, Netta Weinstein, Jessey Bernstein, Kirk Warren Brown, Louis Mistretta, Marylène Gagné (2010).

On energy, personality, and health: Subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well-being
Journal of Personality, 65(3), 529–565.
Ryan, R. M., & Frederick, C. (1997)

Zest and work
Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(2), 161–172.
Peterson, C., Park, N., Hall, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2009)