Updated: Jun 23
© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
Inspiration is one of those things we all have free access to, but somehow, it never shows up when we need it the most. It is no coincidence that the word used to describe the drawing of air into the lungs is also 'inspiration'. You might think the process of breathing in is something you actively do, but it actually happens to you and is a subconscious act. Breathing in occurs automatically following a full exhalation due to the pressure difference created within the lungs. Inspiration or 'breathing in', therefore happens to us rather than us practicing it. Funnily enough, a similar concept happens with creative inspiration.
It is not only creatives who need inspiration. Inspiration is the fuel that turns any chore into a pleasurable, satisfying activity. I find inspiration is the cheeky little sister of motivation. They are closely related and when the cheeky little sister shows up, they form a perfect team. Let’s be honest, it's really hard to motivate yourself when you are not inspired to do a certain task. Again, this is not only true for artists or creatives, it literally goes for all of us with any undesirable task we face.
The official definitions of inspiration are:
1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative;
2. a sudden brilliant or timely idea;
3. the act of drawing in specifically: the drawing of air into the lungs.
Imagine you are sitting on the couch, cuddled up in your favourite blanket with a lovely cup of coffee (insert tea if you prefer!). Putting the bins out is the last thing on your mind. All of a sudden, an awful smell comes wafting your way from the kitchen and you start wondering where on earth it is coming from. It smells a bit fishy…..ahhh yes, of course, the leftover food from last night! You have two choices; 1) endure the awful smell and let it ruin your lovely 'me time' or 2) quickly take out the bins and carry on with your lovely afternoon, whiff-free and undisturbed. Obviously, option number two is the most appealling. You see how inspiration makes the job easy?
The mental stimulation that in this case, provided the brilliant idea to take the rubbish out and create a longer-term pleasant, pong-free zone was Inspiration. If you hadn't had the motivation to eliminate the problem and remove the rubbish (fuelled by inspiration) and someone had suggested, completely out of the blue whilst you were enjoying your well-deserved 'me-time' that you go and put the bins out...., well, let's be honest, they probably would have had their head bitten off for disturbing you!
When we feel inspired to do something, we tap into a power source that provides us with the energy to act and persevere. It's almost like renewable energy, derived from natural processes that replenish constantly. Funnily enough in my example above, the action was caused by inspiration, not only breathing in, but the desire to do something. The motivation to take out the rubbish was triggered by the smell, which infiltrated through your nostrils because of the actual act of inspiration (breathing in) or inhalation. Sounds logical, right? Now what happens when we know we need to do something, but we feel 100% uninspired to do it and there is no smell or anything else to bother us.
How to invite inspiration in
In order to be propelled forward into action through inspiration, we need to bring self-love and self-discipline into balance. Allowing yourself to be inspired, means opening up and making space for an idea to come. The best way to start that process is always to slow down and open up a nice conversation with yourself, inviting in the voices of self-love and self-discipline. It could go a little something like this:
You are standing in front of a mountain of dirty dishes and all you want to do is plop down on the sofa, binge-watch Netflix, chill and ignore the chore. Inspiration is needed to get the job done. You take a minute to sit and think. Maybe even focus on your breath, inspiration and expiration (see what I’m doing here?!)
Self-love says: You really don't like doing the dishes, you deserve to do something you love after a long and hectic day.
Self-discipline says: It has to be done; it's your turn. Just get started and get on with it!
Both of these voices are right, but you need to balance them out so they both get their way. You detest washing up, but what could you do that you love, whilst doing the dishes to make it a sweeter, more enjoyable task? Let some ideas float in. For me, I listen to audio books while doing mindless tasks, like dishes, laundry or cleaning and all of a sudden, I start to look forward to these chores. You might call a friend on speakerphone, listen to music or the radio or have the TV on in the background.
It’s not rocket science to turn the situation around, but it does work. It’s a little change, a little mindset shift towards paying more attention to yourself, how you are feeling and how you want to feel. It is absolutely OK to feel uninspired or not in the mood to do something and it's even more important to say it out loud, recognise it and be honest with yourself. It is in these moments that flashes of inspiration can hit you and you come up with ideas of how to make a task more enjoyable.
Yes, Mary Poppins was right; A spoonful of sugar does make the medicine go down! With a spoonful of inspiration, you feel more motivated and you create a different situation; one in which you are making an effort to feel better.
Here's another little example, completely random (of course! ;-) If you are not into exercising but love to dance, then let’s make you feel better about exercising together.
Click here to join one of my dance fitness classes, either online or in the studio. I can’t wait to inspire you to move, sweat, smile and most of all, have fun!
Let’s dance soon,