Be Inspired

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BE INSPIRED

We all know the feeling — that bland, tedious, "everyday is exactly the same" sensation that sets in as you begin to question whether your path in life is the right one. Self-doubt and a lack of motivation are all too common side effects of modern life that can leave you feeling utterly deflated. However, by actively seeking out sources of inspiration in the world around you and drawing upon the reserves of inspiration that exist within you, it's possible to breathe joy back into your life and start working towards your dreams. Whether you're looking for the inspiration to complete a personal passion project or simply looking for ways to get through your day.

Look for inspiration in nature. Musicians, poets, artists, and other highbrow intellectuals have long drawn upon nature's beauty as a source of inspiration, but, in truth, you don't have to be an egghead to be inspired by nature. For instance, simply taking a short walk in a nearby park or a nature preserve can be a reinvigorating experience. In addition to being a potentially inspiring experience, it feels great to get out into the wilderness and experience nature firsthand, so don't delay!

  • As you walk through nature, try to take in the beautiful, minute details around you. For instance, notice the simple, yet perfectly-crafted beauty of a flower or see the scenic quality of a creek flowing beside you. The beauty of nature can be effortless, but it's never unremarkable

Look for historical sources of inspiration. If you ever feel like there's no way that you, an ordinary person, can achieve great things, know that history offers hundreds of real-life examples which prove this idea wrong. Some of history's most inspirational stories are well-known, like those of Jesse Owens, Andrew Carnegie, Mother Theresa, and so on, but countless more people who are less well-known had similarly huge impacts on history. 

Look for fictional and artistic sources of inspiration. While real life has more sources of inspiration than can ever be accessed, fictional stories created by humans can be just as inspiring. Movies, books, songs, and other forms of art can tell inspirational stories and offer transformative new perspectives on age-old problems. As an added bonus, these things are all fairly accessible today, especially compared to certain real-life sources of inspiration. For instance, it's easy to download a new movie or song, but not so easy to start pursuing your secret mountain climber. 

Look for inspirational details in old, familiar things. Sometimes, inspiration is all around us, just waiting to be noticed. If you're feeling particularly uninspired, try doing something you've done many times before or going somewhere you've been countless times while keeping a keen eye out for details you may not have noticed before. Noticing a tiny new detail in something that you're intimately familiar with can lead you on a trail of discoveries that can give you a completely new understanding of the place or process you're revisiting.

Read motivational and self help literature. It's definitely worth noting that many, many books, publications, and articles specifically detail the process of becoming motivated and inspired to achieve a goal or reach for the stars. These sources can vary greatly in terms of length, credibility, and quality. Some are written by Ph.Ds, while others are written by self-appointed experts. Some have great, life-changing advice, while others are written primarily to make money for the author. Some are comprehensive guides for how to live your whole life, while others detail only very specific aspects of life.

Seek new sources of stimulation. When people feel uninspired, often, the root cause is simple boredom. In these cases, getting yourself excited to go out and try something genuinely new can be enough to shake you out of a deep funk. Don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone! You may discover that you had interests or talents you weren't even aware of. Below are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • See a movie. For bonus points, see a challenging art house picture or one from a director whose work you're not familiar with.
  • Listen to music. As above, you may want to try listening to styles and genres you're not familiar with.
  • Read a book. You guessed it — read the work of an author you haven't read before or read about a subject you have little knowledge of.
  • Exercise. Besides just plain feeling great, physical exercise has scientifically-proven depression-fighting benefits that can help you kick the blues and get back to your life.
  • Go on a date. The excitement from a first date can be quite intense! Use this to your advantage by channelling this excitement into productive pathways.

Travel. Sometimes, when you're feeling uninspired, a change of scenery can do the trick! There's a reason why so many friends, relatives, and self-help books will tell you to "get out of the house": removing yourself from the same old boring, uninspiring surroundings can refresh your mind, leading you to think and feel in ways that you may not have for a long time. One of the most draining parts of our daily routines is to see the same old places again and again, day in and day out. Make a change and leave these problems behind from time to time. You'll be amazed how much more inspired you feel.

  • If you've got the funds to take extravagant vacations or long sabbaticals, do so, but count yourself lucky! If you're short on cash, cheer up — you don't need to go to the French Riviera to recharge your batteries. Short trips to neighboring towns or cities can be just as inspiring as trips to faraway places and are much, much cheaper. Try spending a day or two at a local nature preserve, for instance. You may be surprised just how little you were familiar with the area you live in.

Laugh. There's almost no situation in life that isn't better with the addition of a little laughter. The times when you're seeking inspiration are no exception. While laughing isn't necessarily going to give you genius ideas on how to achieve your goals immediately, it will help you relax, improve your mood, and, most importantly, allow you to exist in the moment (if only for a few minutes). In short, it will put you in a state in which you'll be open to new ideas and experiences which can inspire you.

Get in touch with an old contact. Ringing up an old friend, colleague or mentor can be a remarkably refreshing experience, especially if you've been feeling down because of a lack of good company in your life. Reconnecting with someone you haven't seen for a while isn't just a mood-booster, though — it can also bring you inspiration in the form of new ideas, new perspectives on old ideas, and more. Because the type of people you're likely to want to reconnect with are the types of people whose opinion you respect, the thoughts and advice of these people are also likely to influence your own. Below are just a few ideas for people you may want to get in touch with:

  • Friends that you've lost contact with due to moving, changing schools, etc.
  • Old teachers or professors (especially ones with whom you had a close relationship). Great for inspiration in the form of vocational guidance.
  • Distant relatives you haven't seen in a long time.
  • Bosses from past jobs you had a good relationship with. Great for inspiration in the form of career path guidance.

Spend time with someone new. While seeking out someone you're already familiar with can lead to inspiration, so too can striking a chord with a complete stranger. What better way to gain a new, inspirational perspective on life than from someone who's entirely new to you? To be fair, not every single person you meet will have something inspirational or groundbreaking to say. Some will undoubtedly be pessimistic, dreary, and uninspiring, but don't let the occasional bad apples let you down, as getting out and meeting new people is generally a great idea if you're looking to reinvigorate your life.

  • You have nearly countless options when it comes to locations for meeting new people. Anywhere people gather is a potential opportunity to make a new contact. This being said, some of the best places to look are places where people are likely to share interests with you. 

Reach for a dream, even if it's unlikely. The process of striving toward a dream can be just as rewarding as achieving the actual dream itself — in the words of the old cliché, "it's the journey, not the destination". The knowledge that you've made a genuine effort to achieve a long-shot goal that's dear to you can be immensely fulfilling and, more to the point of this article, can be tremendously inspiring for future endeavors. Life forces us to make a choice between idealistic visions and realistic, attainable goals. By choosing the former just once, you open your life up to the possibility, however remote, that there's something amazing waiting just around the corner. It's an incredible feeling. 

Create something. By making something new, it's possible to learn about yourself. When you make something new from scratch, tiny pieces of you are visible in the final project. Whether painting a beautiful landscape or building a sturdy table, every creator leaves a mark on his or her creation. The process of creation is great way to observe these inner qualities as they come to the surface. These qualities can inspire you by changing the way you think about yourself. You may be surprised by what you find! 

Perform a random act of kindness. One of the greatest ways to get a new viewpoint on life when you're feeling down is to do something nice for someone else, especially if this person is in a worse place than you. In addition to putting the problems keeping you from achieving your goals in perspective, performing a selfless deed usually creates a feeling of inner warmth that's genuinely difficult to recreate any other way. Most importantly, however, it makes life better for someone who may not enjoy the comfort, safety, or sense of purpose that you take for granted.

  • The recipient of your act of kindness can be a stranger (like, for instance, if you volunteer at a local homeless shelter or juvenile home), but s/he can also be someone who is close to you. Helping out a friend who's struggling with life's commitments can be an inspiring, perspective-changing experience and also a way to deepen your relationship and cement the bond that made you friends in the first place.

Meditate. The creative and inspirational benefits of meditation have long been touted by the practice's supporters, though the exact truth of these claims is still not a matter of scientific fact. Whether or not meditation provides a tangible, measurable benefit, it certainly provides intangible ones. Meditation can have a calming effect, which, can make it easier to focus and think clearly for some. Meditation can also be immensely refreshing, especially if you spend most of your day stressed out. Even just 15 or 20 minutes spent in quiet contemplation can be a luxury that few people are accustomed to!

  • If you're interested in the potential benefits of meditation, try sitting calmly on the floor or your bed with your back straight and your legs folded or stretched out in front of you. Set a timer for 15 minutes to half an hour. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and try to think about nothing at all. Alternatively, focus on a simple word, phrase, or image until it loses its meaning. Though there are many fancier, flashier ways to meditate, this simple method works perfectly well.

Love. As corny and cliché as it sounds, the love of another person can be extremely inspiring. Genuine human love is something that can change your entire life by completely changing your priorities. If you're an adult you probably know people who have made important changes in the course of their life because of their love for someone else — moving, pursuing a new job, sharing a new hobby with their partner, and so on. You may have even done this yourself!

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