Inspiration is God making contact with itself. ~Ram Dass
In various reference sources, the definition of inspiration is first described as the act of drawing air into the lungs. The term is further defined as a divine influence on expression. The opposite of the term, expiration, refers not only to exhaling, but also the cessation of breathing, or death. I find these implications pretty profound, don’t you?
A publication on Research Gate shares a review of scientific studies on inspiration. Writers, artists, and other creators have long argued that inspiration is a key motivator of creativity, the paper reads. Over the past decade, scientists have tested and found strong support for these claims. I just love when science confirms pieces of time-honored wisdom that make life more meaningful!
According to the Harvard Business Review, psychologists Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot have identified three foundational aspects of inspiration: spontaneous evocation, transcendence over self-serving concerns, and motivation to actualize a new idea. Further, they say, the heights of human motivation spring from the beauty and goodness that precede us and awaken us to better possibilities.
In the spirit of enhancing the beauty & goodness that precede us, I want to share 6 of the best ways I know for priming the heart and mind to receive inspiration.
- Start each day by reading something inspirational or closely observing beauty in some other form. Even if you, like me, wake up thinking of your to-do list, redirect your thoughts of doing and immerse yourself in being in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Cognitive researcher and psychologist Nancy Etcoff says that beauty inspires and motivates us.
- Attend an art exhibit or museum. Viewing the works of creatives, whether local or world renowned, not only brings more beauty and interest into our lives, but also has a way of returning focus to our own creativity.
- Go to a concert or other live music event. Psychologists from McGill University in Montreal studied music’s effects on the brain and found dopamine, a primary feel-good chemical, can be released both in response to music and in anticipation of it. A great basis for a strike of inspiration, wouldn’t you say?
Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature for inspiration in the day’s work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain. ~Frank Lloyd Wright
- Get outside! Leave all your devices inside and get outdoors for at least a few minutes each day. Allow your attention to be fully captivated by the the extraordinary creation surrounding you: wildlife, trees, flowers, boulders, bodies of water, canyons, or other natural beauty. Martha Stewart, creative extraordinaire, says, I’m very inspired by nature. I look around me and get all kinds of inspiration daily.
- Do at least one activity outside of your norm each week. Schedule it in your planner or on your calendar so it doesn’t fall through the cracks. New experiences provide new knowledge, opening the way for inspired thoughts, conversations, creative urges, and even new ways of being in the world.
- Make note of inspired ideas, even undeveloped ones. If you’re like me, inspiration can sometimes come in small bits, or in the form of a question. By recording these little nuggets and pondering them over weeks or months, a complete idea can emerge. In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about inspiration gifting her with ideas which, after going unused, were passed along to others (as evidenced by later publications of her unique, discarded concepts.) Don’t let your inspired ideas be regifted!
When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and ‘Good, orderly direction’ (God) to enter. ~Julia Cameron
Whether we’re referring to the act of drawing air into our lungs or being divinely influenced, inspiration is paramount. As long as we are breathing, we are creating, designing our lives in the smaller and larger contexts. By priming ourselves with beauty and goodness to receive inspiration, we open the way for expanded possibilities that infuse all our creations with deeper meaning.
Blessings for Inspiration,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.