I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately, especially around how I can help my clients stay on track as they move toward their goals. It also happens to be that time of year when new year’s resolutions go by the wayside – that’s a topic for a different day, but perhaps this will be of use to the resolutioners out there too. No matter what kind of change you’re working toward, you’ll need a good, regular dose of inspiration.
Motivation or Inspiration?
Before we talk about how to find inspiration, I want to comment on motivation versus inspiration. These two terms tend to be used interchangeably but they’re fundamentally different from each other and both are important.
Motivation means ‘to provide with a motive, or something that causes a person to act in a certain way.’ It is synonymous with the words “induce, move, provoke, prompt, cause.” Think of Newton’s Law of Motion: “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” Change is affected when a force is applied.
In this sense, motivation has to do with the cause-effect relationship of action or inaction. Motivation can be external (your motivation comes from someone else or something outside of you) or internal (the reason for your action comes from within). Either way, you are saying: ”I am motivated to do X because I want/don’t want Y to happen.” Here are a few examples:
- I am motivated to lose weight because I want people to like the way I look. (external motivation)
- I am motivated to lose weight because I want to feel better and have more energy. (internal motivation)
- I am motivated to exercise and eat right because my doctor says if I don’t do something, I might have a heart attack. (external motivation)
- I am motivated to exercise and eat right because I want to be around to play with my grandchildren. (internal motivation)
- I am motivated to finish this project so my boss will be happy with my performance. (external motivation)
- I am motivated to finish this project so I can feel a sense of accomplishment and completion. (internal motivation)
Inspiration means ‘to breathe in’, or the act of drawing air into the lungs. Breathing can be both unconscious and conscious. You breathe automatically because of unconscious processes in the body, but you can also consciously change your breathing patterns by breathing deeper and slower. When you inspire, you take in air, it fills your lungs and becomes part of every cell in your body.
When you say you’re looking for inspiration, you want to find a little spark – something that stimulates, invigorates, arouses, intrigues or ignites you. You’re seeking a certain feeling that you can breathe in and allow to fill your entire being and reminds you how and why you want to continue to BE who you are. Cool.
Do You Find Inspiration or Does it Find You?
Actually, both. You can unexpectedly encounter something or someone that leaves you with a feeling of ‘Wow’ness. You leave feeling inspired by the beauty, simplicity, creativity, or influence you’ve witnessed. You can increase these types of encounters by being mindful and present in your day. Mindfulness doesn’t change what’s there, but it does change what you notice and invites you to appreciate what’s there.
You can also cultivate inspiration by seeking it out. And I highly recommend you do so. Regularly. As you increase your mindfulness and notice where you most derive inspiration, you’ll know where to look when you need a dose.
Whether you find it, or it finds you, breathe in that feeling of inspiration and allow it to become a part of you.
A Little Dose of Fresh Air
For me personally, I find inspiration in the beauty and magnificence of nature, the strength and love in people, the wonderment of children, chill-inducing music, and innovative, outside-the-box thinking. Oh, and sports movies (I know, this one has always baffled me too).
So I’ve assembled a few clips below in hopes that you’ll find a good dose of inspiration for yourself amongst them. As you watch, try to notice the emotions that come up for you and why, so you’ll know where to look when you need to. And please, forgive me for the sports clips – I just can’t help myself.
The Beauty of Nature
120 Pound Journey
No Arms, No Legs, No Worries