Inspiration is normally seen as some kind of magical power that just occurs to certain people at specific moments in their life. Inspiration is definitely powerful, but it’s certainly not magic. Those who learn to harness its power are those who are willing to take action and seek it. It took me several years of “hoping” before I learned that inspiration doesn’t “just happen.” It completely redefined the word for me.
I now see inspiration as something much simpler than a mythical power or some magic answer to every solution. It’s simply a more innovative way of solving a problem. As humans, we are programed with an internal clock. We set routines and develop specific patterns. Some call it living “inside the box” but it’s not really a box. It’s more like being a train that stays on the same route – traveling to the same places in a lifelong cycle that never ends. We wake up, go to work, come home and then do it all over again the next day. We know that there’s more to life so we sit and hope for some form of inspiration to magically save us.
If you just sit and wait for inspiration to save you, then it’s probably never going to come. I’m not saying any of this to lower your morale. On the contrary, I want you to get out there and seek inspiration. Just remember that everything in this section is designed to provide you with long-term results. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Stop Saying “I Can’t” / Start Saying “What If”
Raising new questions and looking at our problems from a different point of view requires creativity. Creativity is what ultimately spawns inspiration so the first step on your lifelong journey to seek inspiration is to learn to avoid falling into fixed patterns of behavior. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a routine. This is more about developing proactive patterns in your attitude.
If you use close-ended statements like “I can’t do that” or “that’s impossible” then you are going to feed your negativity and remain stuck in that pattern. The problem that we all face is that those close-ended patterns are imprinted on us throughout our entire lives. Seeking inspiration begins with acknowledging that behavior and then changing it. Start making open-ended statements like:
- “What if I try this?”
- “I have the ability to learn to accomplish that goal.”
- “I’m open to the possibilities.”
- “I will seek inspiration.”
- “What are some better solutions?”
These open-ended statements will open your mind to creativity. Instead of claiming defeat, you are opening new paths. If you find yourself struggling to find inspiration, don’t let yourself say “I can’t.” Start saying “What if?”
Exercise Promotes Creativity
I know that many of you might cringe at the word exercise but if you want to make long-term success easier to achieve than you should really consider getting into physical shape. Numerous studies have shown that exercise stimulates specific regions in the brain that promote creativity. Plus, physical exercise will help keep you from falling into unhealthy patterns. Engaging in physical activities will help dictate inspiration.
Look, we all know that exercise is healthy. That’s a given but the problem is that so many people never find a way to incorporate it into their lives. This is the area that I struggle with the most so I feel your pain – I really do, but I can tell you from personal experience that my most productive days start with exercise. It gives your body a huge metabolic boost, enhances your mind and it will help you build confidence.
With that said, there are thousands of different exercise programs out there so feel free to use one of those if you are not comfortable with the exercises that I’m about to provide. How you do it is not important. What’s important is that you get out of your head and set your body into motion.
Best Exercises That Enhance Creativity
This is a list of very basic exercises and how to correctly perform each exercise.
Go For a Walk
I highly recommend that you walk or jog on a daily basis. This is the most time-consuming exercise but it’s also the most effective for spawning inspiration. Running gives you a huge metabolic boost that stays with you through the rest of the day. It’s not just the metabolic boost that promotes creativity either. You are exposing your senses to outside stimuli that can prompt inspiration.
The catch is that you need to do this in the morning in order to provide the greatest benefit. You can skip every other exercise in this section if you dedicate just 30 minutes every morning to walking or jogging. Without a doubt, this is the absolute best physical activity that writers can do to seek inspiration.
If for some reason that you cannot take a jog every morning, then here are a few more exercises that you can do in its place. I still highly encourage you to go for a jog every morning.
- Lay flat on your stomach while positioning your palms toward the floor. Make sure that your arms are aligned with your shoulders.
- Push yourself up with your arms so that they are fully extended. Make sure that your body and legs are straight. This is important because keeping your body straight helps with posture and works the abs.
- Slowly lower your body to the floor. Make sure that you keep your body as straight as possible so that you’re entire body is benefiting.
- Push your body back up to the starting position.
- This exercise begins from a standing position.
- Raise one of your knees towards the opposite elbow. Repeat this with the other knee.
- Increase speed gradually.
- This exercise begins from a standing position.
- Lower yourself onto your hands and then push your feet out, back in, and then leap into the air.
Note: Burpees are one of the toughest exercises so only do them if you are in good physical condition. This is one of my favorite since it works the most muscles in the least amount of time.
Mentors are an extremely powerful tool to have in your back pocket. If you are a business owner then you might already have a board of advisors. That is the business equivalent of mentors. However, I’m sure that many of you do not have that luxury.
Here’s how you create a list of mentors for those of you who might not have any.
Start by making a list of five people in your life that you trust to give you accurate advice. Make sure that these people will be honest with you though. Some people will just tell you what they think you want to hear, which can be dangerous.
When you find that you’re uninspired, turn to your list and ask open-ended questions. Then listen to what they tell you. You might not agree with them but having another viewpoint can be inspiring in itself because it forces you to look at your problem from a fresh perspective. For a writer, having an open mind is the very essence of your strength. You must be able to view life from a lot of different viewpoints. Otherwise, everything you write will come across as dull, boring propaganda.
My favorite quote about open-mindedness comes from Star Wars:
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
This is another area where I struggle because my mind always tries to take me to other worlds and tries to see things from everyone’s perspective. I simply get caught up in the moment and become lost to myself. However, mindfulness is one of my absolute favorite approaches to life. I have written a lot of self-help books on a variety of subjects. Mindfulness is my absolute favorite topic when it comes to self-improvement. It seems like such a complicated subject but in reality it’s a very easy concept.
Mindfulness means that you make it a priority to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. It’s a very sound practice but what does it have to do with seeking inspiration? Being mindful ensures that you don’t miss any important ideas. Many times, inspiration comes from the most unexpected of places. The sheer number of opportunities I was missing before I started being mindful was quite shocking.
You might wonder why I would bring up mindfulness last if I feel so strongly about it. The reason is because in order to be more mindful, you have to be open minded, strong mental health, and you must be willing to ask for help.
With that said, here are a few tips to help you be more mindful.
- Practice being mindful while performing your everyday activities that you normally do on autopilot. For example, when you’re brushing your teeth or taking a shower try to pay close attention to every detail.
- Start being mindful the moment you wake up. Don’t wait. What you do during the first hour of waking up sets the tone for the rest of the day. Don’t turn on the television or check your email until you have set that tone.
- Don’t panic if your mind starts to wander. Instead, pay attention to this in a non-judgmental way and then bring it back into the moment. Never let your emotions dictate what you think.
- Don’t overdo it. So many people will try to tell you that you must be mindful all of the time. However, recent studies have shown that the human brain responds much better to short bursts of mindfulness. It’s best to save this discipline for important moments like meetings or when you are being given important information.
- Be mindful while you are waiting. Most of us (including myself) get antsy when waiting in line or waiting for an important phone call. Waiting is not really a bad thing because it gives us time to be mindful. The reason we feel so antsy is because of the fast-paced society that we live in. I encourage you to take advantage of waiting. For example, if you are waiting in line then be mindful of the actions of those around you. How many of them seem antsy? Does anyone seem annoyed? How are they treating the staff? Don’t judge; just observe with an open mind.
- Choose some kind of prompt that will remind you to be more mindful when important situations come up. This cue helps you shift your brain when the unexpected happens. For example, many people use their wrist watch as a prompt but you can choose anything that you like. Your goal is to have something to remind you to be mindful when something unexpected happens.
- Practice meditation. I recommend that you meditate for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before bed. Learning to be mindful takes a lot of practice and patience so meditation provides an abundance of both.
Mindfulness improves your attitude, gives you a much broader perspective, and really opens your mind. All of these are important tools for seeking inspiration.
Always Carry a Notebook
Buy a small notepad to carry in your pocket at all times. You never know when you will find inspiration and it’s essential that you write it down immediately. Inspiration has a funny way of popping into your mind and then leaving moments later. If you don’t write it down as quickly as possible, then that idea will erase itself from existence.
My point in all of this is that you must go out and actively seek inspiration. You cannot pretend that it’s some magical force that is going to just randomly find you. Those who are the most inspired are those who actively seek inspiration.