Everything around you began life as a spark of inspiration. What inspires you may not inspire me, and vice versa. This individual factor affecting inspiration is where it can become challenging. Because inspiration isn’t one-size-fits-all or a simple process, sometimes it can be a struggle to find a source of inspiration in the first place.
The world is full of inspiration through art, nature, literature, music, people, or experiences. The best way to find what inspires you is to open your senses and enter the world with an open heart.
This article will discuss inspiration, how it works, and the benefits it brings us. We will suggest five ways to help you find what inspires you.
What is inspiration?
The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines inspiration as “the process that takes place when somebody sees or hears something that causes them to have exciting new ideas or makes them want to create something, especially in art, music or literature.”
While I appreciate creatives rely on inspiration, I want also to recognize that inspiration is not solely for creatives. I know most athletes take inspiration from their sporting heroes and people doing incredible things. Inspiration helps us drive harder toward our personal goals.
Doing anything creative requires a source of inspiration in the first place.
Sometimes flickers of inspiration help us start something, other times, they help us continue something.
Why feeling inspired is so important
Feeling inspired by something or someone galvanizes us into action - creating something, pushing ourselves forward with renewed energy, or simply initiating a brainstorming process.
Inspiration brings sparkles and glitter into our lives. It helps us live with intention instead of sleepwalking through our days.
In this study from 2014, authors suggest inspiration is a “motivational state that compels individuals to bring ideas into fruition.”
Without actionable ideas, we become stuck in inertia. Inspiration is the vital source behind Mozart’s Requiem and Leonardo De Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Without inspiration, we wouldn’t have planes, cars, the internet, or literature.
How inspiration works
In their study from 2003, Thrash and Elliott introduced inspiration as a psychological construct. They suggest the tripartite conceptualization, consisting of:
- Approach motivation.
In layperson terms, an external source evokes inspiration within us; we don’t create inspiration internally. This first stage of inspiration ignites new thought processes, illuminating new possibilities for our conundrums. Lastly, with our newfound vision, we can actualize our inspiration and take action.
Thrash and Elliott created an inspiration scale that consists of four key questions surrounding experiences of inspiration and the scale and regularity of this. This is a useful tool in assessing your relationship with inspiration and if you allow external influences to inspire your thoughts.
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5 ways to find what inspires you
When we find our source of inspiration, our productivity and creativity surge, and our excitement and energy increase. Inspiration helps us find a state of flow.
Here are our top five tips for how to find what inspires you.
1. Notice the little glimmers
Most of us know what triggers are, but how many understand what glimmers are?
Gilmmers are the opposite of triggers. When we feel triggered, we experience internal discomfort and distress. Our heart rate may rise, and we may feel agitated and frustrated. Glimmers, on the other hand, induce feelings of safety. Glimmers are those small moments that spark joy and induce feelings of peace and comfort.
Most glimmers go unnoticed. But if you learn to pay attention to your glimmers, you will quickly find what inspires you.
Animals and nature provide me with little glimmers. Unsurprisingly, spending time in nature and with animals helps me clear my mind and find clarity of thought.
2. Listen to your energy
If we pay attention, we can hear the messages our body is trying to give us. Our energy levels are a key indicator of what inspires us.
Listen to the rise and fall of your energy. What situations increase your energy and leave you feeling tingly and excited? Energy is a strong indicator that you are around a source of inspiration. This energy boost may be derived from a person, an experience, or an environment. You may feel a surge in your energy after watching live music or visiting a museum.
If you struggle to discern your energy changes, why not keep a journal?
Sometimes we can get stuck on autopilot and fail to notice the subtle shifts in our energy. To help tune into yourself, jot down a few sentences about your energy levels and learn to attribute the causes of your energy changes.
Once you recognize the rise and fall of your energies, focus as much of your time and attention on what increases your energy and try and avoid the things that drain your energy.
3. Pay attention to your thoughts
We can’t control our thoughts. Even when we find ourselves in moments of peace, our thoughts are still churning away. While this can be distracting, it can also be a helpful indication of what captivates us and draws our attention.
If you want to know where your heart lies, look at where your mind goes when it wanders.Vi Keeland
What do you daydream about? What fantasies do you play out? Do you dream of playing the violin in the Sydney opera house? Maybe you picture yourself competing in the Olympics.
Your daydreams are inevitably a wonderful pool of inspiration. Follow them and see where they may take you.
4. Trial and error
They say you have to kiss many frogs to find your prince. Inspiration is similar to this. We must open ourselves up and explore what life has to offer. This exploration means we have to endure a lot of experiences that don’t inspire us to find things that do inspire us.
It stands to reason that we can’t find our source of inspiration if we aren’t exposed to it. So trial and error is a huge factor in the search for inspiration.
Last year I took guitar lessons. They were OK, but my fantasy of mastering the guitar was certainly brighter than my enthusiasm for learning. I didn’t particularly enjoy the process, nor did it excite me, so I stopped. And that’s OK.
Compare this to my recent kayaking trips with my new vessel. Bobbing up and down on the water and watching the seals felt invigorating. I didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day and am already planning the next kayaking trip.
Put yourself out there, and be open to trying new things. You never know when the claws of inspiration will sink in.
5. Does it garner awe and respect?
One of the biggest races on the ultra-running calendar occurred on the weekend. The first female smashed the course record and ran a mind-blowing race in tough conditions. This phenomenal performance left me in awe and greatly respecting the athlete. It leads me to wonder what I can do if I continue to commit to my training and do everything possible to achieve my dreams.
We may not match the outcomes of our heroes, but we can harness our admiration for their success to fuel our actions.
If we are full of awe and respect for what someone else has achieved, they are likely a great source of inspiration for us. Use this admiration to tap into the inspiration resource, follow them on socials, and read up on their story. Let them be your unofficial mentor.
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Sometimes we feel stuck in a rut and rudderless. But when we find what inspires us, we start to live with intention, and our surging motivation becomes action.
Here are our top five tips to help you find what inspires you.
- Notice the little glimmers.
- Listen to your energy.
- Pay attention to your thoughts.
- Trial and error.
- Does it garner awe and respect?
How do you find sources of inspiration? What's your favorite tip to find what do l inspires you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!